Three faith-based groups are already up and running with their agendas for 2016.
One Light’s Building Respect in Community, the local Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light chapter and the Philadelphia Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild have charted out their respective courses.
One Light’s founder, Mary Wade, organized a second “Focus on Reverence with a Call to Counter Violence and Disrespect” committee, which is gearing up for a series of programs during King Day, Black History Month and the rest of the year.
“This call comprises a year of activities intended to raise the level of peace and compassion through reverence in our homes and community,” Wade said. “Underlining every issue confronting our community is a disregard for the integrity of life.
“Whether in the workplace, by those in authority or everyday people walking down the street the problem is the same. It is a lack of appreciation for our Creator and the sacredness of life. This has led to the visible breakdown of societal mores and values. So, we are calling upon people of faith and good will to commit to open our hearts and minds and hold God,” she said.
This year’s round table speaker’s list will include many at the forefront of the local faith community. It will include University of Pennsylvania chaplain the Rev. Charles Howard, Philadelphia Sikh Society leader Yashpal Bain, Islamic representative Aziz Nathoo and Wharton Wesley United Methodist Church deacon David Brown.
The roster will also have the Rev. Donn Jones of Cookman Emerging Ministries and Dr. Lucille Ijoy, a family therapist and founder of Motivation Institute of America.
The local PAIPL is planning a full schedule of monthly meetings and a January retreat. The sessions will take place at the Summit Presbyterian Church, 6757 Greene St. in Mount Airy. They will be coordinated by the Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, pastor of Summit, and Malkah Binah Klein, co-chair of Philadelphia’s PAIPL.
The focus will be on educating and bringing together people of faith to learn about climate change, continuing last year’s activities relating to preserving the environment.
“We have many programs in the coming year,” Pyrch said. “On our agenda are spiritual exercises with Malkah Binah Klein, a house party on Jan. 9 and the Time to Build Up campaign for this year.
“We are also planning a Tu B’Shvat celebration, viewing climate films like ‘Chasing Ice,’ and closing the month with a retreat,” she added.
POWER has already signaled part of its focus for 2016 when its members gathered outside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul for a prayer vigil in October. It was followed by the 22nd annual Children’s Sabbath program the next day.
During that time, several POWER clergy and laypersons from Christian, Muslim and Jewish houses of worship jointly spelled out some of the initiatives they will be working on in the coming year.
“In response to Pope Francis’ challenge of practicing the commandment of love through radical faith, Mary Laver, along with members of 12 Philadelphia-area parishes, gathered for the Prayer for the Pilgrims,” said the Rev. Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER.
“This expressed the commitment to act on the Pope Francis reflection series they have been participating in for the past few months sponsored by POWER and the PICO National Network,” he said.
“The act of tying the ribbons represented their newfound commitment to advocating for social, racial and economic justice using principles of their faith,” Royster said.