Building Bridges of Shared Values: Discovering Marin (October 6, 2002)
Together we raised many interests and concerns that we feel could and should be addressed with active involvement by the religious communities working alongside other members of the community.
The conference began with an opening statements by Dr. Nahid Angha and Dr. Harlan Stelmach. The goals of this conference were to engender greater understanding of the different religious traditions present and active in Marin County, to enrich the dialogue among different faith and philosophical perspectives to further discover not only the beauty of our differences but also the essential core that we all share, in order to understand how we can collectively focus on important and to envision ways we can strengthen our community for the sake of social justice. Dr. Harlan Stelmach, Humanities Chair of Dominican University of California, captured the intent of this first forum well by posing the following two questions inthe opening address: “How do we go beyond a way of seeing the world that no longer serves the creativity of vision needed to engage the problems we face?” and “Today’s civil religious context is too complex and maybe it is just this complexity that can meet this challenge. We are a multi-faith society. How do we allow the strength of our diversity to elevate the situation in the world?”
Panelists included Rabbi Douglas Kahn, The Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs, Furyu Nancy Schroeder, The Rev. Kevin F. Tripp, Dr. Seyed Ali Kianfar, Rabbi Chai Levy, Dr. Philip Novak, and Dr. Robert Traer. The forum was attended by Marin County residents from the Jewish, Catholic, Sufi, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, and Religious Science faith communities, as well as individuals who self identified as “spiritually curious,” “no one tradition,” “not religious,” “non-denominational,” “individual and strictly personal relgionship with a higher power of my choice.” Over the course of the day, the group identified the most pressing issues that the interfaith community should address together: social justice, health care, economic justice, affordable housing, peace, the environment, tolerance, celebrating diversity, children and youth, immigrants, community caring, involving others, spirituality and religion, and prisons and penalties.