Building Bridges of Understanding

For the past three years the Henry Ford Community College Religious Studies Program, along with the Office of Service Learning and the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation, has hosted a three day conference on campus, “Religion, Conflict and Peace.” This conference was instigated by and jointly orchestrated with the Common Bond Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering peace through the promotion of cultural literacy and compassionate dialogue. The institute has facilitated over 40 international conferences of this nature over the past 20 years. Although the conferences here have been deemed very successful for those in attendance, we have decided that the College should now build a program of our own; one that is a wholly organic expression of our unique campus and community. Towards this end a committee of past conference participants have been meeting and planning since April, 2012.
Our goal is to bring together campus personnel and local citizenry of various ethnic and religious backgrounds that we might replace fear and enmity with empathy and understanding. We have begun planning a program that will invite distinguished key note speakers who will set the tone for the conference and articulate the challenges we face. Break-out and plenary sessions, panel discussions, shared meals and evening activities including art and music will afford conferees the opportunity to come to know one another better and appreciate one another more.
As a way of promoting this event and amplifying its reach, we propose launching a speaker series shortly. Our speakers will address conference topics from their particular cultural or faith perspective, and be invited to participate in the conference that is scheduled to take place from April 4 through 6, 2013.
This coordinating committee is inviting the HFCC Council of World Cultures to join us in this endeavor. This initiative is in direct alignment with the CWC’s primary charge…
“ to initiate, encourage and support activities, events and educational opportunities that promote a better understanding of cultural, political, economic, environmental, religious, and social issues on our campus, in our communities, and around the world.”
Our inaugural lecture will be held in the Liberal Arts Building Lecture Hall, L-14 on Tuesday, October 2nd from 11:10-12:30pm. Our distinguished speaker will be
Dr. Benjamin Baker. Dr. Baker is the pastor of the Church of Abundant Life Baptist Church in Southfield, Michigan. A Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, and an interfaith activist on our Building Bridges Task Force. Professor Baker will speak on African American Religious Experience and Expression. He has taught courses on this topic at several colleges and universities around the nation, and he will be offering this course at HFCC beginning in the Winter Semester, 2013. He is the author of 14 books, and is the recipient of several prestigious awards.
Faculty! Please bring your classes. Students, Staff, and the General Public! Come and help us build bridges of understanding that we must have if we are to reach the farther shore of peace and happiness in our time.

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