NIOT Interfaith Gathering: Peace Through Religious Diversity | Not in Our Town

NIOT Interfaith Gathering: Peace Through Religious Diversity

by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Michael S. Brown speaks at interfaith breakfast.

Michael S. Brown speaks at interfaith breakfast.

This blog post was originally posted at the Bowling Green Independent News website.

The Bowling Green interfaith breakfast affirming values of diversity and religious inclusion is an annual event sponsored by NIOT and community partners.

Some religious voices in the world claim superiority for themselves and vilify all others.

“But we know that we are better together,” Rev. Gary Saunders said this morning at the fourth annual Community Interfaith Breakfast in Bowling Green.

“Faith traditions are not a battleground to see who wins,” Saunders said, addressing the theme of “Peace Through Religious Diversity.”

“We need to stand up for what we know to be true,” he said. “Let us make a commitment to stand strong.”

Tarisha Verma sings at start of program.

Tarisha Verma sings at start of program

The keynote speaker for the event, Michael S. Brown, suggested that the community also adopt some “Absolutely In Our Town” beliefs. Brown, president of the Campus Multi-Faith Alliance at BGSU, suggested:

  • Look closely. “You might actually see something you’ve never seen before,” he said.
  • Listen carefully, instead of thinking what you will say next. “We’re a culture of distraction,” but we can change that, he said.
  • Learn deliberately. Don’t fall for the theory that we all share the same beliefs. “We don’t all basically believe the same thing,” so let’s learn from each other.
  • Live wisely, which is the ability to live life well.
  • Lead heroically. “Friends, we should not be bystanders” when racism or other injustices occur, he said. “Everyone can lead.”
  • Leverage strategically, using your time, treasure and talents. “We only have so much time.”
  • Love extravagantly, with an “over the top kind of love,” he said.

Brown said many people have a “disconnect between what we believe and how we behave.”

People often take the more comfortable route of surrounding themselves with similar-thinking people.

“Man, do we love our huddles,” he said.

And conversations are often one-sided.

“Most of our conversations sound like presentations,” Brown said.

Artwork from Bowling Green High School students

Artwork from Bowling Green High School students

Others who spoke at the interfaith breakfast included Rev. Lynn Kerr, Christina Lunceford of NIOT, BGSU President Rodney Rogers, BG Mayor Dick Edwards and BG City Schools Superintendent Francis Scruci.

Joe Jacoby represented the Jewish community and Imam Talal Eid spoke for the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

“This event truly shows how we can come together as people and learn from each other,” Lunceford said.

Scruci talked about the recent stances taken by Bowling Green students in the face of school violence across the nation. They are targeting far more than guns and mental health issues, he said.

“They speak about the kindness and acceptance that has been lost,” Scruci said.

Music and artwork was provided by Bowling Green High School students. Food was donated by South Side 6, Nichols and Biggby Coffee.


In this video from "The Journal," representatives of the Bowling Green Interfaith Council discuss the council’s mission and activities including the annual Not in Our Town Community Interfaith Breakfast. Council representatives include Tom Mellot, Heather Sayler and Dhiman Chattopadhyay.

You can learn more about the NIOT Bowling Green chapter at their Facebook page and more about the event via Twitter hashtag #BGInterfaith2018.


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