Interfaith Trialogue Series

Interfaith Trialogue

Local religious leaders and experts joined together to address the topic “The Challenge of Civil Discourse: Religious Passion, Extremism and the Problem of Perception” at the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice’s 2014 Interfaith Trialogue Series in February.

Dr. Gary Peluso-Verdend, president of Phillips Theological Seminary, moderated each session. The programs are free and open to the public. Donations are welcome.

• Session 1, “The Good,” Feb. 2, 2-4 p.m., Peace Academy, 4620 S. Irvington – Kindness. Empathy. Compassion. When religious passion is channeled by a true believer, it can be a powerful contributor to the common good. Featured speakers are: The Rev. Floyd Schoenhals, retired bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Arkansas-Oklahoma synod; Rabbi Emeritus Charles Sherman, Temple Israel; and Sister Melek Oyludag, Islamic Society of Tulsa. To listen to this session, please go to this website

• Session 2, “The Bad,” Feb. 9, 2-4 p.m., Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, 1301 S. Boston Ave. – There’s a fine line between passion and extremism. That’s where religion becomes angry, triumphant. God loves me more than God loves you. Featured speakers include: The Rev. Floyd Schoenhals, retired bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Arkansas-Oklahoma synod; Rabbi Micah Citrin, Temple Israel; and Imad Enchassi, imam and president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. To listen to this session, please go to this website

• Session 3, “The Media,” Feb. 16, 2-4 p.m., Congregation B’Nai Emunah, 17th and Peoria – The trouble is that we can’t always see these things clearly. We rely on the media, but it loves a fight. How can we tell what’s true or false? Featured speakers include: Mike Jones, associate editor, Tulsa World; Yvonne Lewis, news anchor, Tulsa’s Channel 8; and Rich Fisher, general manager, KWGS Public Radio 89.5 FM.
To listen to this session please go to this website

For over 30 years, OCCJ has brought together Tulsans of various faiths for the annual Interfaith Trialogue. The series seeks to tackle tough issues in a way that helps us live together with our deepest differences.

“The views expressed are sometimes deeply unsettling, and it feels healthy to confront our differences and to expose ourselves to views that are powerfully divergent,” says Marc Boone Fitzerman, Rabbi at Congregation B’nai Emunah. “It’s a never-ending conversation. Over and over again, it’s honest conversations on some of the most difficult issues in society. It’s a fearless project. The topics we have engaged in the past quarter of a century reflect that – violence, immigration, the relationship between religion and state.”

Over the years, a broad variety of themes have been addressed. Says Sheryl Siddiqui, director of Community Relations and American Outreach for the Islamic Society of Tulsa, “Religion is one of the things that could bring us together, but it also divides us. OCCJ helps address the ills of our community in our interpersonal relationships.”

The Rev. Dr. Bill Crowell, associate minister at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church and chair of the series for the 8th consecutive year, says of the planning committee, “We’re reaching out to the young population and young professionals, to involve them more.”

The OCCJ Trialogue Series is made possible in part by the Tulsa Library Trust’s Alfred E. Aaronson Lecture Series Endowment. The Tulsa Library Trust’s Alfred E. Aaronson Lecture Series Endowment was initiated in 1969 on the occasion of Alfred E. Aaronson’s retirement from the Tulsa City-County Library Commission, the Gilcrease Museum Board and the Tulsa Community Relations Commission. Funds collected in his honor were dedicated to bringing authorities to the community to stimulate thought and action in fields where voids exist and offer other points of view.

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