Bahai News -- Interfaith council marks 10 years Saturday, November 23, 2002

Interfaith council marks 10 years

By Sue Davis Smith
The Gazette
Saturday, November 23, 2002, 9:40:20 AM


CEDAR RAPIDS -- The Inter-Religious Council of Linn County celebrates its 10th anniversary Monday with an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at 7:30 p.m. in the Mount Mercy Chapel, 1330 Elmhurst Dr. NE.

Main speaker will be the council's first president, the Rev. Cedric Lofdahl, a retired Cedar Rapids Lutheran pastor. Still active in the organization, Lofdahl will talk about the challenges of diversity.

"The whole concept of bringing other faith groups together was a challenge," he says. "You had to be sensitive to each one's needs and seek out understanding and trust."

The Inter-Religious Council was formed after the Churches United membership voted not to include non-Christian representatives as voting members.

"This was in the late '80s, early '90s, and we felt it was time to broaden the scope of Churches United and include other faith groups. We had a task force meet on how to approach it.

"When the measure failed -- by just a few votes -- we felt we'd worked so long and so well together and gone too far to forget about it. So we met to establish a separate organization," Lofdahl says.

The group's goal hasn't changed in 10 years, Lofdahl adds, but it's been put to the test. The events of Sept. 11 found the various faith com- munities -- including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Baha'i and Unitarians -- coming together.

"They all came to the support of each other," he says.

The council's programs and projects have ranged from panel presentations on different faiths to the airing of "Ethical Perspec- tives On the News" (KCRG-TV9 at 7:30 a.m. Sunday).

During the Interfaith Thanksgiving service, past presidents of the organization -- Rabbi Ed Chesman of Temple Judah, Imam Taha Tawil of the Mother Mosque of Cedar Rapids and Brian Daugherty of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is -- will offer prayers and readings.

An interfaith choir will provide music.

©Copyright 2002, The Gazette (IA, USA)


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