Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska to tackle the issue of polarization
All are invited to join an interfaith dialogue about polarization and peace during the Interfaith Peace Conference, March 1-4, 2018, at Lake Junaluska. The conference theme is “Meeting the Other: Can We Talk?”, and it will address how to communicate with civility and respect while upholding core values and religious traditions.
George Thompson, chairman of the Interfaith Peace Conference Committee, said the topic was an intuitive choice given the current social and political climate in the United States.
“Instead of engaging in civil dialogue that inspires an atmosphere for peacemaking, people with conflicting opinions refrain from talking with those with whom they are likely to disagree,” said Thompson. “This leads to greater isolation, anger, and potential violence.”
The conference will bring together representatives from the three Abrahamic faiths – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – to promote peace. This year’s keynote speakers will reflect on what each of their faith traditions has to say about peace, especially in regards to polarizing beliefs.
“The theme of this conference could not interest me more. Every day, conversations across differences fill our newsfeed, and they continue to become more fraught,” said Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, one of the keynote speakers. “None of us can manage these difficult times alone, and the theme seems to carry a message of hope. All of our traditions are rich in practices that we can share with one another, so we need each other more than ever.”
Fuchs Kreimer is an associate professor of religious studies and founding director of the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Other keynote speakers include newly elected President of the North Carolina NAACP Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, and Associate Professor and Kenan Rifai Scholar of Islamic Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill Juliane Hammer.
The conference will include plenary sessions, workshops, worship and a concert by Abraham Jam, a trio of interfaith musicians who have maintained a message of peace since their formation in 2010.
“I learn so much every year, meet people who continue to be friends and I get challenged to change how I think and act in order to better facilitate peace,” said Karen Greenwaldt, a past participant of the Interfaith Peace Conference. “The theme of the 2018 conference gets at the root of how we live in the diversity of our encounters with others. Rather than talking ‘at’ each other, I believe this conference will help us all learn how to more deeply talk ‘with’ others.”
Thompson said he hopes people are inspired by the conference and moved to take action when they return to their local communities.
“I want to answer the question, ‘How can people of differing faith traditions work together and embody God’s peace to make a difference amidst these current circumstances?’” said Thompson.
Registration for the conference is now open at www.lakejunaluska.com/peace.
Lodging and meal packages are available for those wishing to stay at Lake Junaluska, and there are special discounted rates for students. Registration is open to the public.
For more information about the Interfaith Peace Conference, contact 800-222-4930 or visit www.lakejunaluska.com/peace.