Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

The 2nd Annual Festival of Faiths: Building a Vibrant Interfaith Community

Center for Interfaith Cooperation board chair Don Knebel writes:
On September 7, the second annual Festival of Faiths, open to the public at no charge, will bring thousands of people to downtown Indianapolis to enjoy a Sunday afternoon filled with music, food and opportunities to learn about the great diversity of faith traditions in our community. In a world all too divided by matters of faith, this event seeks to demonstrate that all people, no matter where or whether they worship, share a common humanity that trumps our differences.

The Indianapolis faith community is marvelously vibrant and diverse. A search on yellowpages.com for “mosques, churches and places of worship” identifies 2141 such places in the Indianapolis area, one for about every 500 people. Each week, about 40 percent of us go to one of these places of worship, where we celebrate the traditions of our faith with others sharing our beliefs. But no matter what our religious tradition, be it Roman Catholic or evangelical Christian or Hindu or Islamic or Jewish or Wiccan, we are in the minority because at least 75 percent of us have a different tradition. And yet we are essentially ignorant of the beliefs of those whose beliefs are different from our own.

The Festival of Faiths, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Veterans Memorial Plaza on Meridian Street just north of the Indiana War Memorial, seeks to change that. Music, ranging from a Jewish klezmer band to a Christian rock group, will demonstrate the joy that all people share when celebrating the rituals of their religious traditions. Faith adherents in dozens of colorful booths will explain such things as why Sikhs wear turbans and how to tie them and how John and Charles Wesley brought Methodism to the United States. A labyrinth will provide an opportunity for quiet reflection and meditation. Simple activities for children will allow them to participate in the fun. College students will lead a discussion on the differences between being spiritual and being religious and whether it is possible to be both. And, of course, food and drinks will be available.

The Center for Interfaith Cooperation, which is sponsoring the Festival of Faiths, believes that learning about the traditions and beliefs of others is a key to fostering peace and understanding. If you share that belief, I hope you will join us on September 7. I think you will be glad you did.

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