The Center for Interfaith Relations is delighted to celebrate
25 Years of
Festival of Faiths
In 2020, The Center for Interfaith Relations is celebrating its 25th annual Festival of Faiths. Join the celebration by learning more from our 25 year Festival retrospective.
This past year we celebrated the 24th Festival of Faiths with Sacred Cosmos: Faith & Science, looking at the “and” where faith AND science overlap and interact.
Our world views are shaped by the way we investigate and make sense of our surroundings, and helping us through this journey were guests including Cynthia Bourgeault — a modern-day mystic, Episcopal priest and writer — who led us in a centering morning prayer.
Workshops have been an ever-increasing part of our festival, and that was especially true in 2019, with sessions held by Toby Herzlich and the Biomimicry Institute. We also investigated the nature of human connection with Vivek Murthy, Alice Chen and Naweed Syed.
As with many festivals, our 23rd was topical and timely in the wake of the Women’s March and the #mettoo movement. Sacred Insight: Feminine Wisdom sought to introduce ways of understanding the world as both feminine and masculine.
Rabbi Nina Simons spoke with Woman Stands Shining of the Dine Nation and the Rev. Monica Coleman on how to see, hear and value the feminine aspects of our wisdom. Our culture of addiction was addressed by activist Becca Stevens and her Thistle Farms project, and we heard from speakers on the wholeness modeled for us by the earth.
In 2017, our 22nd annual Festival of Faiths focussed on a topic at the heart of our mission and a value that’s a priority in the city we call home: compassion. The festival, entitled “Compassion Shining Like the Sun,” kicked off with a conversation about compassionate cities.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer talked with Joan Brown Campbell and Karen Armstrong, authors of the Charter for Compassion, along with mayors of several U.S. cities, tackling the topic of what compassionate governance can accomplish. Armstrong also joined Ambassador Matthew Barzun (United Kingdom) and Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, to discuss compassion as the primary motivator for global exchange.
Journalist Ann Curry participated in the opening service, as did Louisville-based musical group Linkin’ Bridge. Curry, who is known for work in war-torn countries, also served as the festival’s keynote speaker.
In 2016, our 21st Festival of Faiths focused on Sacred Wisdom: Pathways to Nonviolence. Festival activities included Enso calligraphy with Zen Master Dae Gak of the Furnace Mountain Retreat Center and a sand mandala created by the monks of the Drepung Gomang Monastery, and concluded with a compassion walk. The walk, from our venue at Actor’s Theatre to the Ohio River, was made silently through the streets of downtown and culminated with pouring the sand from the mandala into the Ohio River.
Festival sessions covered a wide range of topics including Islamophobia, Black Lives Matter, gun violence, and the media and the public trust.
As we examined various pathways to compassion and peace, the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association took place concurrently and across the street from the Festival.
Our 2015 Festival of Faiths, Sacred Journeys, went back to our roots with a deep look at the life and legacy of Thomas Merton.
The Center for Interfaith Relations sits at the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets in Louisville, the exact spot where on March 18, 1958, Merton had the epiphany that we are “all walking around shining like the sun.” Thomas Merton’s dialogue between other faiths, especially his conversations with the Dalai Lama and interest in Tibetan Buddhism, have served as the model for inter-religious conversations for the Center.
The 20th annual festival began with a divine reading by a student of Merton’s, Brother Paul Quenon of the Abbey of Gethsemani. Theology professor Dr. Chris Pramuk spoke on topics of race and religion in the writings of Merton, and Buddhist teacher Roshi Jones Halifax discussed living Merton’s legacy in a compassionate city.