Interfaith Scholar in Residence Program Begins March 3 | Local News
Neighbors come in all shapes, ethnicities and religious traditions.
And faith can make good neighbors.
That’s the overarching theme of “Building Bridges With My Neighbor,” an upcoming series of presentations offered by the Kenosha Interfaith Scholar in Residence program from March 3-6.
A church, temple, college and mosque are the settings for the lectures that will be presented by Amir Hussain, the 2022 Kenosha Interfaith Fellow-in-Residence.
Hussain is president and professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, the Jesuit college in Los Angeles. He gives courses on Islam and comparative religion.
The Interfaith Scholar in Residence program is offered every two years and this is the third year it has been held in Kenosha, according to Rabbi Dena Feingold, a committee member and one of the program’s hosts.
The program began at the suggestion of Beth Hillel congregation member Rabbi Michael Remson, who had the idea of bringing well-known religious speakers to the Kenosha community.
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Feingold noted that this year’s event is dedicated to Remson, who passed away in January 2020.
In previous years, clergy partners have included St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
Through congregational donations and grants, interfaith partners raise the funds necessary to pay the scholar-in-residence to travel and stay in Kenosha.
Hussain was recruited for this year’s series by Fatih Harpci, an associate professor of religion at Carthage College and a member of the Interfaith Scholar in Residence team.
When the Interfaith Scholars Committee decided it was time to bring in a renowned Muslim speaker as an Interfaith Scholar from Kenosha, and Hussain was at the top of Harpci’s list of nominees.
As a representative of the Islamic Center, Harpci also hoped to bring the American-Albanian Islamic Center of Wisconsin into this year’s program.
“I wanted Amir to carry out interfaith activities as a means of discerning and reaffirming our common universal religious and human values,” he said.
Through a series of four lectures, Hussain hopes to enlighten his audience in several ways.
“Part of that is the educational part, even some recent Muslim immigrants may not know these stories. The second thing is about the interfaith connection. Let’s talk about some of those connections.
Hussain is particularly excited about his March 4 lecture “Muslims and Media Images” at the Albanian American Islamic Center. “I want to emphasize that while we need doctors and lawyers, (the Muslim community) needs more journalists and artists to tell our stories.”
Feingold notes that this year two of the conferences will be held in the context of worship services, Saturday, March 5 at Temple Beth Hillel and Sunday, March 6 at First United Methodist Church.
“It’s about giving the community an interfaith experience that may be different from their own worship tradition,” she said.
“In today’s world, programs like this are vital, and not just a luxury, for Kenosha and other communities, as interfaith dialogue promises to bring increased cooperation and understanding,” he said. said Harpci.
“We shine a light of awareness because people may not know each other,” Hussain said.
“Through learning and understanding, we have the opportunity to see people in a new light, not just as a group that we can stereotype, but to see how much we have in common with our neighbors from other confessions,” Feingold said.
For his part, Hussain says he is just the catalyst for new interfaith discussions. “I’m happy to help make connections, but those on the ground will be the ones to keep them going,” he said.