We built upon the discussions during the September meeting about developing programs on themes of visits to faith communities, the arts, interfaith conversations and the empowerment of women.
After 45 minutes of animated table discussions and a break for tasty refreshments, Shirley Wells asked each group to present its ideas.
Interfaith conversations: Cara Steiner reported that their group had come up with some thematic ideas, but had not honed in on a specific program as yet. Areas of interest are the role of women in various religions, symbolism of water, light, and/or life cycles in different faiths, and religion and refugees (especially with respect to Islam and our local area).
Arts: Sue Savion reported that Jennifer Jeffery, a local poet who was part of last April’s inspiring Women’s Poetry meeting, had agreed to lead a WTB program in December in which she would discuss writing poetry and give us an opportunity to write and share around our various holiday traditions. Jennifer is also willing to lead a WTB poetry-writing group. The art group also proposed a program for a spring meeting focusing on local artist Claire Wilson, who incorporates discarded metal objects in her paintings. Another program possibility was a special Sunday afternoon tour of the new WCNY studio. Opportunities for smaller outings were suggested, such as attending a play/talkback at The Redhouse, visiting the Everson Museum visit for the Festival of Trees or an art exhibit, going to a documentary /lecture at Art Rage, and volunteering for the WCNY travel auction. Upcoming art opportunities include the Art Studio Open House/Sale at the Delevan Center and the May Memorial Fine Craft Show.
Empowerment of women: This group focusing on sex trafficking has been very active since the September meeting, gathering statistics, and attending a recent lecture at LeMoyne College by Frederick Douglass’ great-great-great grandson. They want to design a program around the issues of runaways and other young people who are “recruited” into prostitution. Destiny USA is a main recruiting point in our area. Many religions do not regard women as equal to men, and these attitudes may contribute to abuse. The group has been investigating legal issues such as the proposed Trafficking Victims Protection Act that would consider women to be victims rather than criminals. This topic generated lively interest among us all with women mentioning the role of drugs and higher risks for refugee women. The Empowerment group hasn’t firmed up a program as yet, but have talked about showing a documentary and/or having a speaker (female police officer, local judge who is trying to help victims, West Side Learning Center person who deals with the issue in our community). The group also suggested a letter writing campaign to influence legislation around sex trafficking.
Visits to faith communities: This group is looking at opportunities for interfaith visits outside of our monthly meetings. Several upcoming or ongoing opportunities were mentioned:
- Seeratu-Nabi Day gathering at the Ahmadiyya Muslim community
- Thanksgiving Circle organized by Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation at Willow Bay, Onondaga Lake Park, 10 am on Thanksgiving day
- Episcopal church in Baldwinsville, Christmas Eve candlelight service or “Lessons and Carols” service the Sunday after Christmas
- Sikh prayer time and potluck in Liverpool
- Multicultural services at St. Vincent Roman Catholic Church, 9:30 am on Sundays
- Buddhist Chanting, Zen Center, 10 am on Sundays
- Attending a local Quaker meeting
Shirley invited interested people to join the program planning committee.