September 10, 2021

Annual Festival of Faiths to take place online, interactive on Sept. 26

By Sean Gallagher

The Center for Interfaith Cooperation in Indianapolis will host its ninth annual Festival of Faiths from 2-4 p.m. on Sept. 26. The theme of this year’s festival is “Sharing Gifts of Faith: Compassion, Resilience and Hope.”

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the festival will be held online this year on the virtual meeting platform Hopin. Those interested in taking part in the festival can register at no cost at www.indycic.org/festival-of-faiths. Freewill donations to the center can also be made there.

Representatives of faith traditions from around the world that have settled in the Indianapolis metropolitan area and formed communities will have virtual booths in the festival’s online exhibit hall. Some will include video recordings from faith communities. Others will be interactive in which visitors can have conversations with people from various faith traditions.

There will also be a virtual main stage that will feature an opening ceremony in which representatives from different faith traditions will offer a message to all taking part in the festival.

The main stage will also include spoken-word performances and music from various faith traditions, including the 65th Street Klezmorim of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and music representing the Turkish Muslim tradition.

A schedule on the offerings on the main stage will be made available on the center’s website and by e-mail to registrants about a week before the festival.

Finally, the online festival will include various interactive sessions, including one for youths.

“There will be several youths from different faith backgrounds having a discussion about faith, particularly in a time of COVID,” said Charlie Wiles, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation. “They’ll be discussing how COVID has impacted their faith tradition, rituals and practices.”

A video recording of all that takes place at this year’s festival will be available to registrants for 72 hours after it is completed.

Wiles noted that the goal of all of the center’s activities, including the Festival of Faiths, is to increase “religious literacy and empathy for people from different faith backgrounds” and “to encourage more conversation about faith and community.”

Father Rick Ginther, director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs, has taken part in the festival in the past and is looking forward to representing the Church during this year’s online event.

“The festival has helped me in my work through making connections with other religions, to encounter a small part of their enthusiasm, longings and values,” said Father Ginther, who is also pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis. “I have experienced human goodness in the people of other religions. Most of all, I have witnessed a clear longing of the varied people wishing to live in peace with their neighbors.”

Father Ginther encouraged Catholics in central and southern Indiana to take part in this year’s festival.

“The event is only two hours long,” he said. “Take at least some of that two hours to explore one other religion with which you are not familiar. If the booth of that religion offers direct interaction, ask a basic question about their religion or religious practice. What is your most important religious day or festival of the year? How do you celebrate it?

“If there is a Catholic Christian celebration of a similar focus, share how a Catholic would celebrate it and what it means to them.” †

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