Baha'i News -- Event stresses peace, understanding
Posted on Thu, Mar. 14, 2002
Event stresses peace, understanding
TIM W. McCANN
Herald Staff Writer
MANATEE - Understanding and accepting the beliefs of others was the message delivered by speakers
at the 16th annual gathering of the Interfaith-Interracial Council of Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
Members of the Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Baha'i faiths stressed the importance of tolerance and love
for all members of the community. About 100 people of various faiths and backgrounds had breakfast
together Wednesday morning at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium.
The event comes at a time of racial and religious clashes within the local community and beyond.
The Palmetto Police Department has been plagued by incidents of racial intolerance, which led to the
hiring of a new police chief. Elsewhere in the world, religious and ethnic differences have been at the
root of violent conflicts.
Palmetto Mayor Larry Bustle, elected in November, said speeches of tolerance and understanding are "very
timely and very important." The messages reflect recent efforts in Palmetto, where diversity training is
now offered to city employees, he said.
"It's important for us to all be together and hear different opinions about how we can work together,"
Bustle, along with Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, who uses only one name, were the only Manatee mayors in
Nina Burwell, council president, said barriers must be removed in the community between those of
different religions, cultures and race. This takes courage, she said, but the power of diverse ideas and
wisdom creates understanding.
She called for an end to racial injustice and bigotry. "If the sun does not discriminate on whom it
shines, why should we?" Burwell asked.
Keynote speaker Don Roberts, a Methodist pastor and director/chief executive officer of Goodwill
Industries, used his five siblings as examples of a diverse family with opposing views on "almost
everything," yet he noted they all have the same parents.
Others taking part in the service included Laurie Zimmerman of the Baha'i faith, Rabbi Barbara
Aiello and Toufick Etyem, of the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton.
"I think it's a very good event to bring together different cultures and different religions to give us
an opportunity to hear each other's views. It's important we understand," said Tony Stephens, executive
director of the Palmetto Youth Center.
The youth center, along with Brenda Bryant, director of HOW (Homeless, Orphans and Widows), and Adelaide
Tesh Robinson, a volunteer at Manatee Memorial Hospital, were presented with this year's humanitarian
awards by the council.
Tim W. McCann, Bradenton city government reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2620, or at
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