World Interfaith Harmony Day will be celebrated on Saturday, February 1, 2020, 1:00-4:00 p.m.. at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd., Fremont, CA, 94536. This Tri-City Interfaith Council (TCIC) event is co-sponsored with the Human Relations Commissions of Alameda County, Fremont, and Union City. It is free and open to the public. Enjoy food, music, 12 faith tables, and small group conversations facilitated by Jessy Zapanta of the Oakland Peace Center.
In 2010 the United Nations established World Interfaith Harmony Week “to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.” The Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, current TCIC president and senior pastor of Niles Discovery Church says, “TCIC has sponsored events to create harmony, understanding, appreciation, and respect for all people from all faiths and no faiths for over 30 years. At this event people may ask questions to gain knowledge and appreciation of religious practices and beliefs. They can also gain skills for having difficult conversations. Our theme is ‘Braving Harmony Across Those Divides,’ and we’ll focus on the divides that have caused families communities to fall apart. Many people wish they knew how to have these conversations effectively, and we think this event will help.”
At the event, people can visit information tables on many faith traditions and enjoy food that people bring to share. The faiths include Baha’i, Thai Buddhist, Christian Science, Episcopal, Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, and Protestant.
Beginning at 1:30 p.m., Jessy Zapanta, Director of Programs and Partnerships at the Oakland Peace Center and co-founder of Dharma in Motion Sangha at East Bay Meditation Center, will teach ways to create a safe space for listening, compassion, harmony, and justice making. Jessy will offer paths for engaging in conversations that allow conflicting perspectives on race, religion, homelessness, immigration, gender, sexuality, politics, violence, and climate change. There will be time to identify and explore communication and conflict styles, common ground, and areas to stretch and grow.
Born in the Bay area, Jessy is an experienced community builder, advocate for youth, and workshop facilitator in meditation, movement, counseling, and community building.
During a break, there will be time to eat, visit information tables, or learn music with guest musicians: Rabbi Tsvi Bar-David, Rashid Patch, Soni Kaur, and Manjeev Singh. At 3:30 pm, the closing Harmony Celebration will lift up the day’s highlights and feature music led by our guest musicians from the Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh traditions.
The public is encouraged to come, whether this is the first interfaith experience or their hundredth. Participants are encouraged to bring food to share so that all may enjoy the rich religious and cultural diversity of the Tri-Cities. Children are welcome and need to stay with their guardians.
Moina Shaiq, co-chairperson of this Interfaith Harmony Day event and founder of “Meet a Muslim,” says, “I wish every community had this kind of event with so many faith traditions; we are very fortunate. The world wouldn’t be at war if there were more communities like ours. We need to keep proving that we can all coexist. All major faiths teach us to live in harmony. It’s the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.”