Delaware is such a small state. You might think that interfaith activists here would know what’s going on elsewhere, but often we don’t. We get preoccupied with our own labors and miss what’s going on even in our own vicinity. So let’s take a few minutes to catch up. on Delaware Interfaith News.
International Peace Making
Peace Drums Project a Christian, Jewish, and Muslim collaboration, is using music to promote friendship among Arab and Jewish youth. Peace Drums raised over $100,000 to purchase steel drums for an Arab and Jewish school in Israel, and funded teachers to train students there. Those students have learned very quickly, and have formed a united steel drum band, which will travel to the U.S. this Spring on tour.
Ulster Project Delaware continues to bring Protestant and Catholic youth from Ireland to live with American families during summers. UPD has helped to change attitudes among young people and create a stronger culture of peace in their homeland.
The American-Turkish Friendship Association, through collaborative service projects, the sharing of food at Iftar suppers, and occasions for interfaith dialogue, ATFA has contributed much to a spirit of mutual hospitality.
Local Interfaith Peace Efforts
The Wilmington Peacekeepers walk together every week into neighborhoods where there has been a recent shooting, to comfort families and neighbors and establish stronger bonds among neighbors. Christians, Muslims, and Jews pray together on street corners, and read from the Bible and Koran.
Delaware Interfaith Power and Light is helping faith communities educate their members to protect our planet by addressing multiple challenges posed by climate change. DEIPL’s technical assistance is making churches,mosques, and homes more energy efficient, and teaching their members the benefits of soil and water conservation, community gardening, and local farmer’s markets.
The Wilmington chapter of Family Promise is an interfaith project located at Peninsula McCabe United Methodist Church, where Christians and Jews are staffing a program to feed and shelter homeless families. Family Promise keeps families together and helps them regain their financial footing. While parents are seeking employment, the children can continue to attend school.
Nemours Children’s Hospital has furnished an interfaith chapel to address the spiritual needs of all families in a population which is growing more and more culturally diverse. The hospital is also sending community outreach staff into neighborhoods in order to extend its aid beyond the hospital campus.
Silverside Church, in cooperation with the Islamic Society of Delaware, recently convened a public forum to examine the reasons for rising Islomophobia in the U.S., and what people of faith can do to reverse this trend.
Movement for a Culture of Peace is a huge local coalition of people of faith from many traditions, joining together principally to address the problem of gun violence in Delaware, by conducting community study sessions and Q&A forums, and by organizing lobby efforts and marches to raise public awareness.
Delaware Pacem in Terris is, some say, the premier peace organization on the U.S. east coast. Although it is not explicitly faith based, many of Pacem’s members are motivated by their respective religious traditions, and they belong to many. Dating from the Vietnam war, “Pacem” conducts numerous educational and advocacy programs, and shares expertise and volunteers with other not-for-profits.
Wellness Among Military Veterans and Their Families
The Interfaith Veterans Workgroup is organizing Delaware veterans and friends of veterans to help active duty personnel transition successfully to civilian life, maintaining a camaraderie of service to promote health and an exprit de corps among local veterans.
The Victory Village is a recently renovated property near Middletown which will provide transitional housing for male and female veterans in separate facilities, and a one-stop center for all veterans’ needs, physical, social, and spiritual. A small interfaith chapel is already open on the campus. The aim of Victory Village is to give vets the skills needed for employment, but also to train them to start their own businesses.
The Veterans’ Freedom Mural, funded by the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation, has employed a Philadelphia artist, Eric Okdeh, to lead a mural-painting project at 901 Washington Street in Wilmington, where previously homeless veterans are housed. The purpose of this project is not only to beautify the exterior of the building, but also to raise the awareness of passers-by to the needs and skills of veterans, to help vets find each other and support each other along the path from war to wisdom.
Many Candles One Light
Finally, I should mention my own interfaith efforts. In 2011 New Castle Presbyery of the Presbyterian Church USA, which covers Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, commissioned me an Interfaith Peacemaker. In that role I moderate an online interfaith egroup of 180+ members called Many Candles One Light. MCOL keeps local interfaith activists in the know. Members include Christians, Jews, Muslims, Bahais, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, practitioners of Lakota Sioux spirituality, and secular humanists. Yes, I regard many of the latter as people of faith too. If you’re puzzled by this, please read my post, “Some People of Faith Are Not Religious: Toward a Deeper Understanding of ‘Interfaith'”.
No doubt I’ve missed some important recent events in Delaware interfaith news. If you have an addition for the list, please contact me via the Contact tab at this website. And check the Interfaith Calendar on this site for upcoming interfaith events in Delaware.