FREE SPEECH ZONE | 2011 Minneapolis Interfaith Forums Focus On “Healing A Decade of 9/11 Strife”


The 2011 Minneapolis Interfaith Forums will focus on the “healing role” arts, activism, civil dialogue and compassion play in our various religious traditions. Clergy of the 21 Catholic, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant and Unitarian downtown area congregations that participate in the Minneapolis Downtown Clergy Association, sponsor of the Forums, chose the topic in recognition of the ongoing impact of the destruction of New York’s World Trade Center Towers in this tenth anniversary year of that terrorist act.

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Few feelings and memories of “9/11” are magically changed in the aftermath of tenth anniversary commemorations around the world. Also unchanged is the ongoing need for healing a national psyche that continues to generate suspicions and create animosity between peoples of different faiths.

Beginning Oct. 27, from 7-9 p.m. on four consecutive Thursdays, clergy and congregants will join in this conversation, and the public is invited to attend and participate with them. A different congregation hosts the Forum each week.

Recognizing that our inability to understand how words and actions reflecting personal religious beliefs can thoughtlessly hurt people of other traditions, the senior clergy of the Basilica of St. Mary and Minneapolis Temple Israel began these annual public conversations 19 years ago.

The first of this year’s forums, “The Healing Role of the Arts in our Traditions,” will be hosted by Temple Israel, located at Emerson Avenue S. and 24th Street. “The Healing Role of Activism in our Traditions,” will be at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1200 Marquette Ave., Nov. 3. “The Healing Role of Civil Dialogue in our Traditions,” is at The Basilica of St. Mary, Hennepin Avenue at 17th Street on Nov. 10, and this year’s series will conclude with “The Healing Role of Compassion in our Traditions” on Nov. 17 at Central Lutheran Church, 333 S. 12th St.

Forum sessions are free and open to the public. Participants do not need to preregister, and while participation at all of the sessions is encouraged, it is not required.

The clergy have also scheduled their annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service for Nov. 24, at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave., at 10 a.m.

At the foundation of the Forums is the Minneapolis Downtown Clergy Association’s collective belief that It benefits us all to know how our neighbors’ experiences of their various faiths influence how they think and act about issues and events that affect us all.

The Forums also aim to build community and unity, recognize and celebrate religious diversity, and help individuals grow in their awareness, understanding and appreciation of our differences and commonalities.

Forum participants are encouraged to arrive early for informal conversations and refreshments. At each session a panel of clergy will speak to each of their religion’s understanding of the week’s topic. Small group table discussions follow, and then the clergy answer questions from participants on the topic.

The Minneapolis Interfaith Forums were started in 1993 by Father Michael O’Connell, then of the Basilica of St. Mary and now at Church of the Ascension, and Joseph Edelheit, former senior rabbi of Temple Israel. Their purpose was to encourage open, honest dialogue between Catholics and Jews. That vision has grown to include many Christian denominations and the Muslim community.

Recent years’ Forums have addressed the various religion’s attitudes about sacred idols and icons, relationships to the holy city of Jerusalem, how religious communities influence and are influenced by social and political issues, views on the “Ground Zero Mosque” proposal, and other current social and theological issues.

The 21downtown area member congregations are: Augustana Lutheran Church, The Basilica of St. Mary, Bethesda Baptist Church, Central Lutheran Church, Church of the Ascension, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, First Christian Church, First Covenant Church, First Unitarian Society, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, Gethsemene Episcopal Church, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, Islamic Center of Minnesota, Masjid An-Nur, Masjid Al-Ikhlas, Plymouth Congregational Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, St. Olaf Catholic Church, Temple Israel, and Westminster Presbyterian Church.

You can engage in conversation and find out more about the Forums on Facebook at:, or search for “The 2011 Minneapolis Interfaith Forums” with your favorite search engine.