World Interfaith Harmony Day will be celebrated on Saturday, February 1, 2020, 1:00-4:00 p.m.. at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd., Fremont, CA, 94536. This Tri-City Interfaith Council (TCIC) event is co-sponsored with the Human Relations Commissions of Alameda County, Fremont, and Union City. It is free and open to the public. Enjoy food, music, 12 faith tables, and small group conversations facilitated by Jessy Zapanta of the Oakland Peace Center.
In 2010 the United Nations established World Interfaith Harmony Week “to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.” The Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, current TCIC president and senior pastor of Niles Discovery Church says, “TCIC has sponsored events to create harmony, understanding, appreciation, and respect for all people from all faiths and no faiths for over 30 years. At this event people may ask questions to gain knowledge and appreciation of religious practices and beliefs. They can also gain skills for having difficult conversations. Our theme is ‘Braving Harmony Across Those Divides’ and we’ll focus on the divides that have caused families communities to fall apart. Many people wish they knew how to have these conversations effectively, and we think this event will help.”
At the event, people can visit information tables on many faith traditions and enjoy food that people bring to share. The faiths include Baha'i, Thai Buddhist, Christian Science, Episcopal, Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, and Protestant.
Beginning at 1:30 p.m., Jessy Zapanta, Director of Programs and Partnerships at the Oakland Peace Center and co-founder of Dharma in Motion Sangha at East Bay Meditation Center, will teach ways to create a safe space for listening, compassion, harmony, and justice making. Jessy will offer paths for engaging in conversations that allow conflicting perspectives on race, religion, homelessness, immigration, gender, sexuality, politics, violence, and climate change. There will be time to identify and explore communication and conflict styles, common ground, and areas to stretch and grow.
Born in the Bay area, Jessy is an experienced community builder, advocate for youth, and workshop facilitator in meditation, movement, counseling, and community building.
During a break, there will be time to eat, visit information tables, or learn music with guest musicians: Rabbi Tsvi Bar-David, Rashid Patch, Soni Kaur, and Manjeev Singh. At 3:30 pm, the closing Harmony Celebration will lift up the day’s highlights and feature music led by our guest musicians from the Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh traditions.
The public is encouraged to come, whether this is the first interfaith experience or their hundredth. Participants are encouraged to bring food to share so that all may enjoy the rich religious and cultural diversity of the Tri-Cities. Children are welcome and need to stay with their guardians.
Moina Shaiq, co-chairperson and founder of “Meet a Muslim,” says, “I wish every community had this kind of event with so many faith traditions; we are very fortunate. The world wouldn’t be at war if there were more communities like ours. We need to keep proving that we can all coexist. All major faiths teach us to live in harmony. It’s the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.”
It started with a poster. It’s expanded into an entire week of events showing that the Bay Area is United Against Hate.
In the fall of 2017, when members of white supremacist groups began a campaign to hold rallies in Berkeley and Oakland, California, a group of community leaders came up with a way to make a statement that neo-Nazis, their hatred and their ideas were not welcome in the East Bay. Posters were produced proclaiming, “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate” and “Oakland Stands United Against Hate.”
The poster movement grew in many more communities around the Bay Area, including Fremont where two grassroots organizations, Compassionate Fremont and the Tri-City Interfaith Council, worked with the City of Fremont to get similar posters printed and distributed.
In 2018, an entire November week was dedicated to activities to show that the “Bay Area Stands United Against Hate.”
This year, November 17-23 has been designated United Against Hate Week and Compassionate Fremont and the Tri-City Interfaith Council (with various co-sponsors) are organizing five free events to which the public is invited. Each event shows that our community stands united against hate as we grow and learn more about each other. (You can download a flyer with the basics about each of these events here.)
On Monday, November 18, 7:00-8:00 p.m., there will be a candlelight vigil at St. James’ Episcopal Church, 37051 Cabrillo Terrace, Fremont. Co-sponsored by St. James’ Church and Abode Services, the vigil will be a time to reflect on lives impacted by homelessness and to remember by name those who have died on the streets. Canned food and non-perishable items will be collected for distribution by Abode Services. Download a flyer to print to share in your faith community or neighborhood here.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is Wednesday, November 20, and at 7:00 p.m., a gathering in solidarity with the trans community will be held at Cole Hall on the First United Methodist Church/Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation (MPUUC) campus, 2950 Washington Blvd., Fremont. Co-sponsored by MPUUC, this will be a time to honor and grieve the transgender people who have died at the hands of others in the past year. Remembrances will be given to attendees to help remember and respect the people whose lives who were cut short by violence. Download a flyer to print to share in your faith community or neighborhood here.
There will be two events on Saturday, November 23. From 10:00 a.m. to noon, TCIC and Compassionate Fremont will hold “Tea and Conversation” at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 2791 Driscoll Rd., Fremont. In a directed process, people will be invited to pair up with someone they don’t know from a faith tradition different from their own and have a conversation over a cup of tea. Through this process, barriers will be broken down and friendship may be formed. Participants are asked to stay for the entire time. Download a flyer to print to share in your faith community or neighborhood here.
That afternoon at 4:00 p.m., the East Bay People’s Choir will present a free concert at Irvington Presbyterian Church, 4181 Irvington Ave., Fremont. The East Bay People’s Choir is a non-auditioned, open ensemble for people of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. The concert will present music that is hopeful, multicultural and beautiful. Download a flyer to print to share in your faith community or neighborhood here.
The final event sponsored by the Tri-City Interfaith Council actually falls after the official seven days of Bay Area United Against Hate Week. This is the 58th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. It will be held on Monday, November 25, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 43148 Mission Blvd., Fremont. With readings from sacred texts, prayers, songs, and even dance, everyone from the Tri-Cities is invited to a time of gratitude for and celebration of the diverse faith traditions represented that night, all part of our wider community. A free-will offering will be received at this event to help underwrite the justice work of the Tri-City Interfaith Council. Read much more here. Download a flyer to print to share in your faith community or neighborhood here.
You can learn more about Bay Area United Against Hate week at unitedagainsthateweek.org.
The 58th Annual Tri-City Interfaith Thanksgiving Service will be held on Monday, November 25, 7:30 p.m., at St Joseph Catholic Church, 43148 Mission Blvd, Fremont. The program is sponsored by the Tri-City Interfaith Council (TCIC). This year's theme, “Growing In Unity,” focuses on hurdles we face as a society to being truly united and the ways we can overcome those hurdles.
TCIC President, the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, senior pastor at Niles Discovery Church, will share a reflection during the service.
The liturgical fabric of the service is rich in readings from sacred text, prayers, songs, traditional costumes, dances, and music from many of the various faith and spiritual traditions represented in the Tri-Cities. The importance of passing the sacred tradition to the next generation is highlighted at the conclusion of the service when a symbol is passed from an adult to a younger member of many of the Tri-City’s faith communities.
Attendees are invited to bring refreshments for a time of fellowship after the service. A financial offering will be received to underwrite an expansion of the justice ministries of the TCIC.
Parents are encouraged to bring children and youth for this inspiring and educational program. The Thanksgiving service provides a unique opportunity to become acquainted with the varied cultural and religious traditions that are such an important part of our community. A reception follows the service.
Since 1962, when three Protestant Christian churches gathered for Thanksgiving worship, this holiday service has evolved to reflect dramatic historical changes and diversity in the Bay Area. Vatican II encouraged interfaith dialogue between Catholics, Protestants, and the Jewish community. Then in the late 1980s representatives from other faith traditions joined in the celebration. Now, it is common to have people representing the Hindu, Muslim, Ohlone Indian, Unitarian Universalist, Sikh, Baha’i, and Buddhist communities share in the Thanksgiving Service.
For the second year, this interfaith service concludes the Bay Area United Against Hate Week, a movement supported by governments and non-governmental organizations around the Bay Area in November. You can learn more about it at https://unitedagainsthateweek.org/.
You can download a flyer to post somewhere in the community here.
The United Nations has designated September 21 "International Day of Prayer for Peace." The Tri-City Interfaith Council co-sponsors (with Pax Christi and Compassionate Fremont) a local, interfaith gathering on that day by the Peace Pole at Lake Elizabeth, in Fremont. Here are the details for this year's gathering.
4:50 p.m. - gather at the peace pole (near the boat house) for welcome and instructions
5:00 p.m. - peace walk around Lake Elizabeth
6:00 p.m. - interfaith prayers for peace
about 6:30 p.m. - dismissal
Beginning on Friday, September 20, and continuing for a week through Friday, September 27, people around the globe will be taking part in a Global Climate Strike.
The Global Climate Strike started taking shape at the request of the young people who’ve been staging powerful school strikes around the world. Now they've invited people everywhere to walk out of their workplaces to spend time demanding emergency action to tackle the climate crisis.
As people of spirit and faith, we have a moral responsibility to stand with the youth for urgent climate action that is grounded in the values shared by all our traditions: love, justice and compassion. It will be a powerful day of solidarity and hope, and we hope you’ll join us -- and invite five of your friends as well. We need everyone to create the change we need!
Here's a list of actions taking place around the Bay Area and the Tri-Cities. This file also has links to other resources.
URI, the United Religions Initiative, presented the 2019 Bowes Award to the URI Interfaith Councils of the Bay Area and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. At a time of rising tensions and increased division among people of different beliefs, the URI Interfaith Councils of the Bay Area and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio are beacons of light amidst the shadows of prejudice and discrimination. Each Council brings together members of different belief communities to work on local and global issues of great significance. From homelessness and housing, to disaster relief, to standing up for communities under assault like the Yazidis, to combating hate speech and coming together in solidarity in the face of acts of violence.
The URI Cooperation Circles receiving the award are:
The Bowes Award was instituted in honor of longtime URI supporter William K. Bowes by his brother John, and given to URI Cooperation Circles whose work exemplifies URI’s purpose and principles. The Bowes Award was presented during Accelerating Peace: An International Conference at Stanford University, held on June 26 and 27.
The Tri-City Interfaith Council invites the public to attend their annual Holocaust Remembrance Service on Sunday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. The service is held at Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont.
This year Jim McGarry will be the featured speaker. He has been a Holocaust educator since 1992 when he heard his first survivor speak. He has trained at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He has traveled to Germany, Poland, and Israel several times with students and survivors. In 2007 he founded the Helen and Joe Farkas Center for the Study of the Holocaust in Catholic Schools at Mercy High School in San Francisco. McGarry’s talk is titled “The Holocaust as a Call to Conscience.”
The service will include a couple songs from an Interfaith Choir that is being put together specifically for this event. The choir will rehearse at the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation's site, 2950 Washington Blvd., Fremont. You can download a flyer to help recruit singers here.
The service is free and open to everyone from all religious backgrounds, and no religious background. A free will offering will be received for The Healing WELL. More information about their work is available at www.healingwellsf.org.
The Tri-City Interfaith Council, sponsor of this service, is the largest interfaith organization in southern Alameda County. Their mission is to promote an inclusive society in which people of all faiths and traditions respect and appreciate one another.
Download a flyer to print and post in your faith community, your favorite coffee shop, or some other location by clicking here.
FREMONT, 18 January 2019 – The Tri-City Interfaith Council (TCIC) will host the Tri-Cities’ fifth annual World Interfaith Harmony Day Celebration on Saturday, February 2, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd. Fremont, CA. The event is free and open to everyone.
In 2010 the United Nations General Council established World Interfaith Harmony Week “to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.”
“TCIC has sponsored events to create harmony, understanding, appreciation, and respect of all people from all faiths and no faiths for over 30 years,” said the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, current president of TCIC and senior pastor of Niles Discovery Church. “This Harmony Day Celebration pulls together people from over 15 faith traditions and no faith to share powerful ways we’re each bringing love, peace, and justice into the world.”
“If you are curious about any faith tradition, or if you’re longing for more harmony, please attend and enjoy the Celebration,” he added.
This is the first year that a “Concert of Love” has been added to conclude the Harmony Celebration. Songs from the Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions will be taught to those who are interested by Jagmeet Kaur, Rosie Kasem, Rabbi Tsvi-Bar David with Rashid Patch, and Ofer dal Lal during the middle of the afternoon’s activities. At the same time, those who would rather talk than sing will be involved in interfaith “Conversations of Love.”
The “Concert of Love” that concludes the day’s Celebration will include highlights from the “Conversations of Love.” TCIC member Shamsa Rafay, who is Muslim, says, “I am always moved during the sharing at these events, because some people will say that they’ve never felt so loved by people from other faiths before.”
People will gather for the popular small group conversations – the “Conversations of Love” – either randomly or because they share an interest, such as visual arts, books, poetry, film, public speaking about faith, or delivering food to people.
TCIC chair of the planning committee, Cindy Sojourner said, “Our hope is the shared-interest groups will extend the harmony by continuing to meet in the future.”
“I’m excited that at least 5 artists from the Faith Trio Interfaith Art Exhibit in Oakland and Moina Shaiq, who does Meet a Muslim conversations, are joining us,” Sojourner added.
The Celebration begins with a half-hour of sharing refreshments and visiting information tables from over 10 faith traditions, including Judaism, Islam, Religious Science, Unitarian Universalist, Sikh, Moorish Science, Buddhist, Interfaith, and Christian. Then, after a greeting, people will move into their small groups for learning song and having conversations for 20 minutes. They will have an opportunity to gather for a second round of small group singing or conversation. Then everyone will gather for the “Concert of Love.”
This World Interfaith Harmony Celebration is sponsored by TCIC, the Alameda County Human Relations Commission, the Fremont Human Relations Commission, and the Union City Human Relations Commission. All people are welcome to attend all or any portion of the Celebration. Children will need to stay with their guardians. For more information about the Tri-City Interfaith Council, visit tcicouncil.weebly.com.