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Interfaith Peace Conference to 'Imagine the Way' to peace through the arts


All are invited to join celebrate and reflect upon the role that various arts play in reconciliation and peace-building during the Interfaith Peace Conference, a capstone event, Nov. 21-24, at Lake Junaluska. The conference theme is “The Arts of Peace: Imagining the Way.”

The conference will highlight the way Abrahamic traditions have written, embellished and illuminated their Scriptures to draw readers and worshippers into their deeper and more expansive meanings. Participants will draw on music, drama, textile art, dance and other art forms that lead people to new ways of imagining the peace promised within their deepest religious visions.

 “We could not be more excited about the speakers, artists, musical performers, and display of visual arts in relationship to this theme,” said George Thompson, chairman of the Interfaith Peace Conference Committee. “These participants represent an amazing diversity in faith and cultural backgrounds.”

The guest presenters include:

•           Mariela Shaker, Syrian violinist, motivational speaker and award-winning advocate for refugees. Shaker survived the war in her homeland after receiving a full-tuition scholarship to attend Monmouth College. She has performed for audiences around the world. Her goal is to use her music to build bridges, promote peace and raise awareness for the plights of the Syrian people.

•           Laurie Wohl, fiber artist and lecturer. Wohl is internationally known for her unique Unweavings®, liturgical projects and interfaith messages. Her interfaith project, "Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory," relates poetry and spiritual texts from the Spanish medieval period of the Convivencia to contemporary Middle Eastern poetry in the context of her Unweavings® fiber art pieces. She has exhibited her work around the world.

•           Jonathan Homrighausen, Biblical scholar and doctoral student in Old Testament at Duke University. Homrighausen is author of “Illuminating Justice: The Ethical Imagination of The Saint John’s Bible.” He earned his master's degree in Biblical Studies at the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley), where he spent a good deal of time studying Judaism and Islam. Inspired by “The Saint John’s Bible,” he is also a very amateur calligrapher.

•           Ilyas Kashani, a “hakim” or practitioner of Traditional Islamic Healing and Medicine. Kashani has studied traditional and modern holistic therapies since 1990. He has a master’s degree in acupuncture from the Traditional Acupuncture Institute and certification in Chinese herbology from the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture. In 2000, he founded the Circle of One, a non-profit Center of Traditional Medicine that serves people in need.

The Interfaith Peace Conference will feature artists, interpreters, workshops, worship, films and other arts-related activities. Guest performances include a sema or whirling ceremony, the Mars Hill University Gospel Choir and “Women and War,” a reader's theater play by Jack Hilton Cunningham.

The conference will also display two volumes of the Heritage Edition of “The Saint John’s Bible,” on loan from Carson Newman University.

Registration for the conference is now open at Lodging and meal packages are available for those wishing to stay at Lake Junaluska, and there are special discounted rates for students. Registration is open to the public.

The Interfaith Peace Conference at Lake Junaluska is an ongoing response to God’s call to peacemaking and reconciliation. Affirming the community of Abrahamic faiths, the Peace Conference seeks to work in partnership with Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other religious traditions to advance the work of reconciliation and peace.

For more information about the Interfaith Peace Conference, contact 800-222-4930 or visit

Lake Junaluska is a conference and retreat center and residential community that surround a 200-acre mountain lake in Western North Carolina. Lake Junaluska’s mission is to be a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information, visit



Lake Junaluska Communications
Lake Junaluska