Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania

10th Anniversary Celebration November 1, 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2015 00:19

The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania celebrated its 10th Anniversary celebration on Sunday, November 1, 2015 at the Penbrook United Church of Christ. Speakers included Rabbi Jack Moline, national Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance, headquartered in Washington, D.C.,   Reverend Sandra L. Strauss, Director of Public Advocacy for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches; and Rabbi Carl Choper, co-founder and President of The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania.  Rabbi Choper also serves as Executive Director of the Religion and Society Center.

A performance of the Unisingers from the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg added a highly appropriate musical voice. State Senator Rob Teplitz presented a citation focusing on the contribution The Interfaith Alliance has made to improve social justice in Pennsylvania. Senator Teplitz highlighted the need for people to work toward understanding each other despite differences, adding that this would not be easy, but that it would be worth the effort.  Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania Representative Susan Helm also sent citations.

Rabbi Moline remarked that creating the Interfaith Alliance was a counterbalance to conservative groups claiming that the United States was a Christian nation. The Interfaith Alliance advocates for protecting faith and freedom, getting government out of religion and religion out of government. He urged that supporters be optimistic and use successes as a springboard to future achievements. Universal inclusivity is the goal. Supporters of the Constitution need to be alert to people such as Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, who tried to break her legal oath by denying marriage licenses to same sex couples. The lesson is that the Constitution trumps Biblical scripture. Rabbi Moline made the point that even atheists should take time to reflect or meditate in some space sacred to them even if they do not believe in a deity.

Rabbi Choper reported on the history and current activities of the Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania (TIA-PA). By focusing on shared values, TIA-PA has supported a variety of projects, programs and organizations doing valuable work. Among these projects are LGBT initiatives, diversity programs, interfaith events such as the Harmony Walk, the annual Commonwealth Interfaith Service, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light, the annual 9/11 program, and working with Heeding Gods Call and the Community Responders’ Network and others.

Reverend Strauss reviewed her work early on with TIA-PA in the context of her work at the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.  She detailed common concerns among social justice advocates including problems of mass incarceration. What is critical is reaching out to people focused on engaging in change.  Ammon Ripple, a new Executive Board member of TIA-PA and an officer in Equality Pennsylvania noted that support of TIA-PA helped his mission of promoting social justice in Pennsylvania. A panel moderated by Buddhist Osho Geoff Dunaway followed the formal presentation. A reception followed, which included a display, highlighting both the history and current activities of The Interfaith Alliance. To learn more about the Interfaith Alliance and the Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania, including how offer support, please go to www.interfaithalliance.org

 

Senator Rob Teplitz with Rabbi Choper (seated)

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