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.
The 2014 Festival of Faiths, “Sacred Earth, Sacred Self,” sought healing of self and society through a faith–based look at the earth. An interfaith prayer service opened the festival with a call to re-awaken to a world of beauty and abundance.
This 19th annual festival included a morning meditation led by Gerardo Abboud, founder of the Dongyuling Center in Argentina and translator for the Dalai Lama in Latin America. Wendell Berry showed us how to view the earth as a neighbor, and concepts of resilience were applied to our daily lives by social entrepreneurs Nina Simons and Kenny Ausubel. Islamic scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, founder of Zaytuna College, led us in a talk entitled “Healing Self, Healing Society.”
The 2013 Festival of Faiths, Sacred Silence: Pathway to Compassion, redirected attention from the self to the other, creating a pathway to compassion. Programming was carefully curated to reflect the 2013 Festival’s dedication to highlighting the historic 1968 meeting of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Thomas Merton.
We were privileged to collaborate with the Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion, the city of Louisville and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in preparing a program of events leading up to the arrival of the Dalai Lama.
The Festival of Faiths and the Institute for Contemplative Practice also hosted an opening of an exhibit featuring the work of photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard. The exhibit, “Merton/Meatyard; Meatyard/Merton,” included many of Meatyard’s iconic photos of Merton, along with eight original Thomas Merton calligraphies.
The 17th annual Festival of Faiths, Sacred Fire: Light of Compassion, continued our investigation into roles of the primal elements in our spiritual lives.
In 1995, elders from the Ojibwa tribe lit a sacred fire for international peace. Coals from this fire have been shared around the world, and in 2012, Native American spiritual leader Rupert Encinas and firekeepers of indigenous American traditions kept the light burning throughout the festival.
The Rev. Joan Brown Campbell and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer set the standard for what defines a “compassionate city,” directing festival attendees and the city at large on how to follow the International Charter for Compassion. Our evening program featured a Whirling Ceremony of the Mevlevi Dervishes, combining meditative movement and classical Sufi music.
Our sweet 16th Festival of Faiths, Sacred Air: Breath of Life, explored our united need for the gift of clean air. The immensity of nature was in scope for the regional premier of “Journey of the Universe,” and we capped off the festival with a tree–planting ceremony in honor of the lungs of the planet.
A Seder for the Skies kicked off our 16th Festival of Faiths, Sacred Air: Breath of Life. Hosted by Rabbis Joe Rapport and Gaylia Rooks at The Temple in Louisville, this interfaith observance allowed participants to engage in the prayers, poems, and songs of the Seder.
Our festival meditation room emulated a sacred grove, with each faith tradition hosting a day and sharing their breath in different ways. EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy acknowledged her responsibility and ours to deal with climate change and legacy pollutants.
Smith, Peter. “Hearing Bad News on ‘Sacred Air’.” The Courier-Journal, 5 Nov. 2011, p. B3.
In 2010, we continued down the path of looking at our spiritual relationships with the primal elements, focusing on Sacred Soil: Foundations of Life.
Wendell Berry joined students from the Kentucky School Garden Network to showcase why gardens matter to our future. Will Allen, food activist and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” shared the spirit of Terra Madre, his foundation developing sustainable urban farming practices. Young farmers took the stage in a session with Slow Food USA to discuss fresh ideas along with experienced farmers, in addition to highlighting the experiences of African-American and migrant farmers.
Martin Palmer of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation encouraged us to “shift toward a proper relationship between our food and the land,” while Harvard neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor recounted her comeback from a brain hemorrhage and the faith she relied upon to recover.
Bruggers, James. “Faithful to Help Improve Food.” The Courier-Journal, 6 Nov. 2010, p. B1.
Smith, Peter. “Festival of Faiths Gets Down to Earth.” The Courier-Journal, 30 Oct. 2010, p. B3.
Smith, Peter. “Faiths Consider ‘Sacred Soil’.” The Courier-Journal, 4 Nov. 2010, p. B1.