Interfaith Opportunities
Network

 

About ION

     Statement of Support for Muslims
                             in the Amherst Area
          As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approached in 2015, Muslims in the Amherst area received an unprecedented expression of support.  Thirteen local religious congregations, including both Christians and Jews, and two campus religious organizations, have formally and publicly endorsed a statement opposing any mistreatment of Muslims and calling for solidarity and friendship. 
         
The statement reads:

          As people of faith, we voice our support for Muslims in our community and beyond.  We deplore anti-Islamic harassment, prejudice, hate-speech, and hate-based actions.  We stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers and oppose any mistreatment or exclusion based on religion.  We welcome opportunities to grow in our understanding of each others' faiths, and to build relationships of
mutual respect, trust, and friendship.

The Interfaith Opportunities Network developed the statement, and ION also gathered the formal endorsements.

Groups endorsing this statement include:  United Church of Christ churches First Congregational, South Congregational, and North Congregational, Amherst, and North Hadley Congregational and First Congregational, Hadley; Grace Episcopal, Amherst; Immanuel Lutheran, Amherst; Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst; Jewish Community of Amherst; Wesley United Methodist, Hadley; First Baptist Church, Amherst; Hope Community Church, Amherst; Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, Amherst; the Office of Religious Life at Amherst
College; Reverend Dr. Paul Sorrentino, Director of Religious Life, Amherst College; Chris Clark, DHM, Catholic Religious Advisor, Amherst College; and United Christian Foundation at UMass Amherst.  In addition, the Mount Toby Friends Meeting published a similar statement of support in December 2010.

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ION's 10th Anniversary Celebration

          Unity in Diversity was the theme as ION reached out to more than 100 faith communities in the Pioneer Valley, hand-delivering a letter inviting each group to join ION in praying for peace on the weekend of October 2-4, 2015. 

           Convener Naz Mohamed wrote,   "[J]oin us in exercising the most effective instrument at our disposal - the power of prayer - building a world of unity in diversity.  As communities of faith, let us fill our surroundings with prayer rooted in faith, hope, and love, to bear the fruit of peace in our world."

              Read the letter . . .
          In a smaller, private celebration, ION members recalled the work of Joan Lindeman whose vision established EON (Ecumenical Officers Network) in the summer of 2005, and the other four founders of the group: Carol Kreischer-Wesley United Methodist, Amherst; Zina Tillona-Grace Episcopal, Amherst; John Allen- First Congregational, Hadley; Bonny Vaught-Immanuel Lutheran, Amherst. 
        Today, we enjoy recalling how - as Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian Universalist representatives became members - the name changed to Interfaith Opportunities Network.

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2014 Joan Lindeman Interfaith Opportunities Awards
On left: Olivia Stokes Dreier, Executive Director, Karuna Center for Peacebuilding
On right: Mehlaqa Samdini, Founder & Executive Director, Critical Connections

     Karuna Center and Critical Connections were recognized for their efforts to provide events where community members could engage in an analysis of the relationships among Muslims, Christians, Jews and others in order to lay the foundation for mutual understanding and respect.
  Rev. Alison Wohler, minister Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst with some participants in Our Neighboring Faith program. 
Left to right: Augusta Fricke, Lilah Redonnet, Anna Stanforth


     The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst was commended for its program Our Neighboring Faiths, in which seventh and eighth graders were offered the opportunity to increase their awareness of other faith communities by visitations to several houses of faith, follow-up discussion and a final presentation to their own congregation.

More . . .

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Founded in 2005,

marking TEN YEARS of interfaith work,

What does ION do?


Provides a lay interfaith network that strengthens communication, leading to education and collaboration among participating congregations

Partnered with the Jones Library in Amherst as part of Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys - a 2013 bookshelf grant received by the library from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Supports - and members participate in - "Coming Together," an Amherst area anti-racism effort founded by Russ Vernon-Jones

Offers the Joan Lindeman Interfaith Opportunities Award, recognizing efforts of individuals or groups to strengthen communication and understanding between faith communities

Remains mindful of ION's Statement of Support for Muslims, created as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approached

ION welcomes guest speakers on immigration concerns, human trafficking, public school issues, special faith group concerns.  Response often leads to action

Introduces and distributes copies of a Multifaith Calendar


Participates every year in Project Backpack, collecting supplies and backpacks  needed for Amherst/Pelham Regional Schools students.  ("Project Backpack gives good weight.")

Joins in the Community Mapping Project

Received and appreciated a 2005 invitation from the UMass Rumi Club for a gift Ramadan Iftar dinner for ION congregations - continued annually, with an Iftar in 2014, now sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Center

Began Abraham Group #1 - a four-year conversation with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim participants - followed by Abraham Group #2

Established a one-year Women's Interfaith Scripture Group, based on Silks for Sisters Project

Researched and distributed contact information from/to leaders of Youth Ministries

Sponsored "Walking God's Paths," a six-week Jewish-Christian Dialogue group

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Jason Lee for the Boston Globe

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             Statement of Support for Muslims
                             in the Amherst Area
          As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approached, Muslims in the Amherst area received an unprecedented expression of support.  Thirteen local religious congregations, including both Christians and Jews, and two campus religious organizations, have formally and publicly endorsed a statement opposing any mistreatment of Muslims and calling for solidarity and friendship. 
         
The statement reads:


          As people of faith, we voice our support for Muslims in our community and beyond.  We deplore anti-Islamic harassment, prejudice, hate-speech, and hate-based actions.  We stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers and oppose any mistreatment or exclusion based on religion.  We welcome opportunities to grow in our understanding of each others' faiths, and to build relationships of
mutual respect, trust, and friendship.

The Interfaith Opportunities Network developed the statement, and ION also gathered the formal endorsements.

Groups endorsing this statement include:  United Church of Christ churches First Congregational, South Congregational, and North Congregational, Amherst, and North Hadley Congregational and First Congregational, Hadley; Grace Episcopal, Amherst; Immanuel Lutheran, Amherst; Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst; Jewish Community of Amherst; Wesley United Methodist, Hadley; First Baptist Church, Amherst; Hope Community Church, Amherst; Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, Amherst; the Office of Religious Life at Amherst
College; Reverend Dr. Paul Sorrentino, Director of Religious Life, Amherst College; Chris Clark, DHM, Catholic Religious Advisor, Amherst College; and United Christian Foundation at UMass Amherst.  In addition, the Mount Toby Friends Meeting published a similar statement of support in December 2010.

          Pioneer Valley Quakers express support
                          for Islamic Community 

The Mount Toby Monthly Meeting of Friends, wanting to express support for our Muslim neighbors, came to unity on the following statement:

          Increasingly aware of fears about Islam within the United States, we of Mt. Toby Friends Meeting (Quakers) voice our support for Muslims within our community and beyond.  We stand with those who live in fear because of their religion.  We deplore anti-Islamic harassment and welcome the opportunity to grow in the understanding of each others' faiths. 


ION Honors Founder Joan Lindeman
          Joan Lindeman, who founded Interfaith Opportunities Network in 2005, was honored as she stepped down after leading the group for 7+ years.   ION 's Co-Conveners Naz Mohamed and Lee Bridegam announced the newly-created Joan Lindeman Interfaith Opportunities Award.          
Jewish, Christian, Muslim members of ION said thanks
in Hebrew, English, Arabic

Read the Amherst Bulletin article
"Founder of program on religious understanding is honored"

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ION's Youngest Member!