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Interfaith Peace Conference Workshops


Workshops take place on Saturday at 10:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Participants may choose two workshops to attend.

Russell Pregeant at the Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska

For the Healing of the Nation: A Biblical Vision

Led by Russell Pregeant

It is the author’s belief that far too often our churches either avoid controversial issues in the social and political spheres altogether, tread too lightly when dealing with them, or push one point of view as the obvious truth. The intention of this workshop is to bring together persons who share a biblical faith but might differ considerably on how to interpret the bible and how it might apply matters of social values and politics. We will seek to have serious discussions within the context of a covenant of mutual respect and genuine sharing and listening, with the hope of better understanding one another as well as opening ourselves to spiritual growth.

About Russell: Russell Pregeant is Professor of Religion and Philosophy and Chaplain Emeritus at Curry College, Milton, Massachusetts. His special interests include biblical ethics, contemporary theology, and religion and politics. A native of Louisiana and an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, he served for four years as Associate Pastor at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church in New Orleans. He is the author of eight previous books, most recently Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons (Fortress Press, 2011), Encounter with the New Testament: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Fortress Press, 2009), and Knowing Truth, Doing Good: Engaging New Testament Ethics (Fortress Press, 2008).

Sajjad Hussain Changezi at the Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska

Understanding the Muslim Rage 

Led by Sajjad Hussain Changezi | 10:45 a.m.

Are Muslims incompatible with the world? Why do they resist globalization? European colonization and the Muslim response. Merecnaries or Jihadists?

Diversity within Islam

Lead by Sajjad Hussain Changezi | 1:30 p.m.

Exploring the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam. Sufism and Wahdat-ul-Wujood or the Unity of Existence.

About Sajjad: Sajjad was born in Quetta, Balochistan, the southwestern province of Pakistan which borders Afghanistan and Iran. His online and offline activism has been acknowledged by civil society organizations in Pakistan and abroad. Since April 2013, he is proudly associated with Alif Ailaan, a campaign for education reforms in Pakistan. Sajjad is also a member of the Swedish Institute (SI) alumni of its Young Connectors of Future (YCF), a leadership program for emerging leaders from South Asia. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, he plans to embark on an academic journey to study Global Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Through the knowledge and skills gained at UNC, he wants to join the cohort of moderators and global activists who are facilitating socio-political conversations between communities and societies often described as ‘incompatible’.

Pam and Charley Rogers at the Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska

Moments of Truth: Building Relationships, Building Community

Led by Charley and Pam Rogers

The workshop is designed to help people bridge the deep divides they are experiencing as a result of our country's current tensions. Many of us are finding that suddenly we can't talk to our friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers or fellow committee members. Relationships are strained at best, or broken, at worst. The moment is upon us to find a way to communicate and build relationship. Come and explore the tools of compassionate listening and transformative language, and discover their power in our personal "moments of truth."

About Charley and Pam: Charley and Pam are deeply committed to the environment and social justice. Charley enjoyed a 27-year career with IBM, followed by nine years as a business consultant. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Henderson County Community Foundation.

Pam partnered in a public relations firm for 25 years, concentrating on the non-profit and political sectors. She served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Henderson County Community Foundation for six years. Pam and Charley have facilitated 18 "Moments of Truth" workshops to 500 participants in the past year across Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. Pam and Charley have four children and eight grandchildren who are the lights of their lives! 

Kate Fisher at the Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska

How to Talk Across the Political Divide

Led by Kate Fisher with Better Angels | This is a two-part workshop. Participants need to attend both the 10:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. sessions

Learn skills for having respectful conversations that clarify differences, search for common ground, and affirm the importance of the relationship.

About Kate: Kate Weinman Fisher is a professional educator working in Henderson County since 1987, including over 20 years in the public schools where she served as a Specialist for the Academically Gifted and as a School Media Specialist.  Her early work in the community was as a Director of Christian Education and as a School Mediation Coordinator. Kate’s passion is to help people make meaningful connections through respectful conversations. 

About Better Angels: Launched in 2016, Better Angels is a bi-partisan citizen’s movement to unify our divided nation. We’re building new ways to talk with one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation. The name “Better Angels” comes from Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address in 1861, “We must not be enemies… The mystic chords of memory…will yet dwell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Helen Ryde at the Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska

Inclusive Conversations: Getting Brave and Talking about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 

Led by Helen Ryde

In this workshop we will explore how our sexual orientation and gender identity can create connectedness for some, AND MARGINALIZATION FOR OTHERS. We’ll talk about how the experience of our faith traditions has helped us to reduce and/or increase our capacity for welcoming people in the LGBTQ community and provide specific skills to help us become advocates and allies for inclusion.

About Helen: Helen Ryde is a Home Missioner in The United Methodist Church (UMC) and serves as Reconciling Ministries Network’s Southeastern Regional Organizer, working for LGBTQ inclusion in the UMC.  Helen grew up in the UK and moved to the States 20 years ago. She and her spouse Kate live near Asheville, NC. You can follow Hellen @helenryde on Twitter and Instagram.

Seth Ledi at the Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska

When Hate Groups Come to Town

Led by Seth Levi

This workshop will focus on developing a community response to combat bigotry when alt-right, white supremacists and other racist organizations target your town. It will cover how to build coalitions, educate the public and stage peaceful counter events. 

About Seth: Seth Levi is the Director of Marketing at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). His work for the SPLC includes paid media campaigns and voting rights. Prior to joining the SPLC, Seth was the Director of Strategic Initiatives for an at-large Philadelphia City Councilman and worked for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in a variety of capacities, including Deputy Campaign Manager. He holds degrees from Cornell and Columbia universities.

Abraham Jam at the Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska

Interfaith Creative Dialogue

Led by Abraham Jam | 1:30 p.m. ONLY

The Abraham Jam wouldn’t exist without the particular faith traditions that nurture and challenge each member of the group. In some ways, the group also owes its existence to the ways members of those faiths have misunderstood one another, sometimes tragically. How do these distinct belief systems contribute to the creativity of Billy, Dawud, and David as individuals and as a trio? What is gained in this interfaith creative dialogue?

About Abraham Jam: Abraham Jam composed of Billy Jonas, David LaMotte, and Dawud Wharnsby, features three “brothers” from the three Abrahamic faiths. They don’t just take turns sharing songs, but create music together, contributing vocal harmonies, percussion and instrumentation to each other’s songs.