Festival of Faiths to focus on ‘Sacred Fire’

By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor

The Center for Interfaith Relations’ 17th annual Festival of Faiths will return Nov. 14 to 18 with a focus on “Sacred Fire: Light of Compassion.”

The theme is meant to highlight “the sacred fire in our spiritual and daily lives” and “the fire of compassion that motivates us to be good stewards,” said Chris Wooten, the communications director of the center, formerly known as the Cathedral Heritage Foundation.

The festival will be held primarily at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 W. Muhhamad Ali Blvd. It will feature presentations, workshops, music and panel discussions on a variety of  topics, including compassion, issues related to the enviornment and sacred traditions.

A “lighting of the sacred fire” will open the festival on Nov. 14 at 5:15 p.m. The fire will be lit by the festival’s Native American participants at the George Garvin Brown Garden, 415 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard near the Cathedral of the Assumption. It will be transported to the festival and kept burning throughout the events.

Following the lighting of the fire, the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service will be held at 6 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Assumption undercroft, 433 S. Fifth St.

The next day, Nov. 15, Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer and the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell will speak about “Compassion and Community” during a presentation from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. The Rev. Campbell is the director of Religion at the Chautauqua Institution and co-author of the “Charter for Compassion.” The cost to attend is $25.

Fischer and the Louisville Metro Council committed to the “Charter for Compassion” and a campaign to make Louisville a more compassionate city last year.

Also on Nov. 15, Dr. Larry Rassmussen will speak at the annual Interfaith Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the heritage center. Rasmussen is the Reinhold Niebuhr professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He will present “Born to Belonging: Praying the Primal Elements.” The cost is $25.

Following is a sampling of other festival events. They will be held at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

  • “Changing Hearts through Sign and Ritual” will be presented by Franciscan Sister Robbie Pentecost, manager of Christian Partners in the Christian Appalachian Project, and Father John Rausch, director of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia. It will be held Nov. 15 at 9:30 a.m. This event is free but registration is required.
  • “Homeward Bound through Compassion,” a panel discussion set for 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Nov. 15, will focus on care and compassion for people without homes. The program is free but registration is required.
  • “Be Careful What you Burn” and “Our Land Cries Out: Communities of Faith Address the Call to Stewardship” will be presented on Nov. 16. Both programs deal with the morality of conservation. The former will begin at 9 a.m. and it is free. The latter runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $25.
  • Programs for youth will be held on Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on a variety of topics, including solar energy, homelessness and race relations. Reservations are free, but must be made through a teacher or school representative.
  • The annual “Night of A Thousand Stars” fund-raising dinner will be Nov. 17 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $200.
  • Sufi sacred music and meditation will be presented Nov. 16  from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is free but reservations are required.
  • “Keep the Fire Burning Gospel Explosion,” a showcase of gospel music, will be presented on Nov. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

To register for events or for more information, call 583-3100 or visit festivaloffaiths.org.

In addition to the annual Festival of Faiths, the Center for Interfaith Relations said it plans to hold similar festival events in May when the Dalai Lama visits Louisville. These events will not replace the annual festival, though next fall’s festival may be modified, said Wooten.

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