It’s a scene that feels grander than its surroundings: representatives from more than 50 faith-based organizations gathered together in one place for a common cause. The group is diverse. Collectively, they represent more than 14 world religions and as many backgrounds and cultures as there are individuals in attendance.
The setting, though, is simply a Zoom room on a casual Friday morning in Cincinnati, where leaders from the region’s various faith organizations are gathered together to plan the city’s Fourth Annual Festival of Faiths. The meeting is hosted by EquaSion, the nonprofit formerly known as the Bridges of Faith Trialogue and primary organizer of the Festival.
The 2021 Festival of Faiths, happening virtually from Aug. 22-29, is focused on a key theme that unites all of these organizations together in a common cause: “Compassion Through Action.”
“Our theme, “Compassion Through Action: We’re In This Together,” is especially poignant given the challenges our communities have faced over the past year from COVID-19, racial injustices, social uprisings, and more,” said Chip Harrod, executive director of EquaSion. “This year’s Steering Committee has worked hard to create an opportunity for people of all backgrounds, religions, traditions and faiths to come together and celebrate one another in a safe and welcoming environment. It’s our hope that individuals and families everywhere feel invited to join us.”
The Festival is free and open to the public and features faith-based conversations, dialogues, workshops, medications, and music programs. The week’s activities and planning have been led by the 2021 Festival co-chairs: Afreen Asif, Bishop Marvin Thomas Sr., Jaipal Singh and Penny Pensak.
For the first time, the festival is honoring a local individual as Honorary Chair of the Festival. To inaugurate this recognition, the EquaSion board selected James P. Buchanan, Ph.D., recently retired executive director of the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University. Dr. Buchanan, a widely recognized scholar and civic leader, has devoted 20 years to promoting interfaith education, dialogue and collaboration both locally and nationally. He is currently the director of Interfaith Cincy and A Blessing to One Another and serves on the boards of numerous charitable organizations.
Public programming begins on Sunday, Aug. 22, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 29. All events and services are free and open to the public, but advanced reservations are required for participation. The entire calendar of activities and links to register for all events are available at www.cincifestivaloffaiths.org.