My Neighbor's Faith coming to Stamford

STAMFORD — The InterFaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut is joining with the Mayor’s Multicultural Council of Stamford to host My Neighbor’s Faith, featuring a panel of five religious leaders representing major faith traditions in Stamford. The discussion will be held on Feb. 27, from 2-4 p.m. at the auditorium in the Ferguson Library. Dr. Heidi Hadsell, president of Hartford Seminary, will be the moderator.  

This event is the brainchild of Jules Naudet, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker residing in Stamford, whose 2007 documentary, In God’s Name, examined the lives and faith of twelve of the world’s most influential religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama and Pope Benedict. The film marked the first time that this distinct group of 12 very different religious leaders appeared in one program, allowing the viewer to see them in intimate settings, including their homes and personal places of worship.

Naudet brought the idea to the Mayor’s Multicultural Council, on which he sits, hoping to invite Stamford residents to become more aware of the tenets and practices of the religions practiced by their neighbors. He says, “Too often conversation about faith has been driven by suspicion, prejudice and misunderstanding. I hope that through this forum, we will dispel the preconceived ideas and realize that if we took the time to get to know each other’s faith, we will find that much more unites us than divides us."

The panel will include leaders from Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Christian congregations. Each leader will speak briefly about his or her own religious tradition, and then respond to questions. The event is free and open to the public, and will include a reception following the presentation.

In order to provide a broader perspective on major world religions, and “prime the pump” for the local discussion, the Councils will also host a screening of In God’s Name with Jules Naudetat the Ferguson on Feb. 16, beginning at 5:30 p.m.  In the film, these spiritual beacons speak out about violence and hatred and reveal their own thoughts about faith, peace, unity, tolerance and hope. Through the eyes of these leaders, the filmmakers found common ground among believers around the world.

The Mayor’s Multicultural Council was created by Mayor Michael Pavia to help foster such common ground among different communities in Stamford. Its chair, Nino Antonelli, says, “The Council is an effort to ensure every immigrant, both new and old, is welcomed in Stamford with open arms. This makes our great city a better place to live and work.”

Stamford has been a beacon for immigrants since its establishment. Immigrants have come to Stamford and found a welcoming place to live. They have brought their traditions and their religion and have been able to seamlessly assimilate to the American culture, without losing their heritage or forgetting their home country. Antonelli continues, “These proud immigrants celebrate their traditions and religion without prejudice every day and have enriched our  community, as well. The goal of the Stamford community is to continue to be the City where immigrants are always welcomed, and a place to raise their family and call home."

The InterFaith Council has a long history of bringing people of different faith traditions together for conversation and collaborative action. The Council actively supports the diverse religious expressions found within the communities of lower Fairfield County, and seeks to build understanding among the various traditions through both collaborative action addressing social needs, and through conversation and education. It sponsors a monthly interfaith conversation, Learning and Latte, as well as a monthly InterFaith Book Club. Through a diverse array of special events and programs, the InterFaith Council is making “the place for interfaith action and the space for interfaith conversation” in our communities. 

The Ferguson Library is at 96 Broad Street at Bedford Street, in Stamford. Free parking will be available in the Burlington Coat Factory garage. For more information, call 203-348.2800 or check the InterFaith Council’s website, http://www.interfaithcouncil.org, or InterFaith Council on Facebook. For more information on this and other programs, please contact Kate Heichler (kateheichler@gmail.com).

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