A short history of the CIC
The Center for Interfaith Cooperation was based on a number of existing interfaith initiatives in Central Indiana. From 2006-2011 it was a program of the Peace Learning Center called the International Interfaith Initiative, which began many projects that have continued with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation.
Since its formation in 2011, the CIC has built up a large, robust and diverse network of partnerships with Central Indiana congregations, colleges and universities, and civic and community organizations. One of its most important assets in fulfilling this mission is CIC’s diverse and active board, consisting of forty religious and community leaders. CIC organizes two signature events every year. The Festival of Faiths is one of the Midwest’s largest one-day celebrations of religious diversity and vitality. The second Festival of Faiths in 2014 doubled the attendance of 2013, drawing more than 100 congregations, 22 community organizations, nine universities, and fifteen food and merchant vendors. Numbers are expected to go up again at the 2015 Festival of Faiths scheduled for August 30.
CIC’s second annual signature event is our Interfaith Banquet. The purpose of the Festival of Faiths is to connect a wide array of Central Indiana residents to the region’s congregations and community organizations. The Interfaith Banquet, by contrast, connects the city’s religious, educational, and civic leaders to each other. A capacity audience of nearly two hundred people attended the inaugural Interfaith Banquet at Christian Theological Seminary on January 22. We are seeking a larger venue for the next Banquet in February.
CIC helps organize interfaith educational and community programs virtually every week. These are all in partnership with other organizations. Examples include:
- A Speaker’s Bureau featuring more than two dozen leading experts on different faiths and religions.
- An Interfaith Lecture Series in partnership with several universities, which brings nationally renowned scholars to Indianapolis.
- The Sacred Spaces Tour of places of worship, which in the spring and summer has exposed hundreds of Hoosiers to congregations of different faiths.
- An Interfaith Film Series, in partnership with Heartland and other community groups.
- Dinners and other events connecting newly arrived refugees with congregations wishing to learn from and assist them.
The Immigrant & Refugee Service Corps (IRSC) is an AmeriCorps program hosted by CIC. IRSC mobilizes community support to increase services to newcomers and others in Central Indiana. Members specifically focus on developing and disseminating information that provides immigrant and refugee families with better access to healthcare and wellness services. Members have taken the lead in formulating the Ethnic Self-Help Charter, which identified mental health as an urgent need for newcomers.
The IRSC program began in 2012 with 10 members hosted in eight different community organizations. The second year of the program grew to 12 members, and IRSC’s success of extending health services to newcomers in Central Indiana led two the addition of two host organizations, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Cancer Support Community. In fall of 2015, the number of host sites increased to 16 (CIC’s is the only AmeriCorps program in Indiana that is currently expanding). An indication of the IRSC’s success: Ben Leslie began as an IRSC member; today he is the IRSC program director.