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Christians & Arabs share a meal at St. Stephen's, Reno

A message of peace and tolerance was spread by members of the Sierra Foundation, who joined St. Stephen's on Wednesday, February 16 as guests at the first Lenten Supper of 2005. The Sierra Foundation, an organization dedicated to the practice of Inter-faith Dialogue, presented a power-point slide show to a receptive gathering of St. Stephen's members.

The presentation was given by Ferhat Ozturk and covered the initiation of the Interfaith Dialog movement in Turkey and the current goals of the organization. Interfaith Dialog is a practice that seeks to identify commonalities in world religions, especially the Abrahamic faiths, in order to lessen cultural and religious tensions in the world and, eventually, to strive for world peace.

As Mr. Ozturk pointed out in his presentation, living and working together in diversity is a challenge. Religious beliefs and differences in cultures can unleash deep emotions, and these misunderstanding can sometimes take destructive forms. In order to build a better future, the Sierra Foundation will work hand in hand with other communities and groups that recognize the same mission in order to work for a better and more peaceful future.

In addition to Mr. Ozturk and his wife, Hafsa, Ismail Ozdemir, the president of the organization, and his wife, Meral, joined about twenty St. Stephen*s parishioners for the potluck dinner and presentation. The other members of the Sierra Foundation who attended the event were Volkan Akbas, Mehmet Eser, Fatih Yilmaz, Emre Aksoy, and Tekin Tuncer.

Mr. Tuncer brought a delicious Turkish desert, "Noah's Pudding," to share with St. Stephen's. Muslims prepare Noah's Pudding every year in the month of Muharram, according to the Islamic calendar. In remembrance of what Noah and his people went through, this pudding is made by mixing dry beans and wheat together and is then shared with neighbors and friends.

The event was considered a great success, as the Sierra Foundation and the Episcopal Church have common goals for spreading religious understanding and tolerance. We plan to schedule future joint events, and the Sierra Foundation will inform St. Stephen's of other Interfaith Dialog events in the Reno-Sparks community.

Published in The Pilot of St. Stephen's Church, Reno, Aoril 2005