Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stay tuned for the upcoming Hospitality Initiative Summit first weekend of May 2013

One of the biggest events the Michigan Professional Communicators with interest in religion and cross-cultural issues have been promoting and preparing for since this time last year is the first summit of the Hospitality Initiative. The Initiative has already hosted a few smaller events throughout the past year to both introduce people to the concept of hospitality as an integral part of cooperation and peacemaking in a multi-faith world, and to promote the larger summit to be held this upcoming weekend, May 3rd through 5th, 2013, at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

The summit kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday with a free introductory session, “the promise of hospitality in a multi-faith world.” The use of the term “multi-faith,” rather than the more common “interfaith,” throughout the flier for the event brought to mind an article I read an issue of the WISDOM Window, the monthly e-newsletter of Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit. The author was discussing the marriage of a Christian and a Jew, and explained she prefers the term “multi-faith” because it implies more than one faith cooperating, whereas the term “interfaith” to some people sounds more like an attempt to blend traditions rather than celebrate and synergize their complementary differences.

I don’t know if that’s what the program coordinators for the Hospitality Initiative Summit had in mind when they chose the term “multi-faith,” but it fits the theme of accepting that people of different faiths are indeed different from us, and that this is not a bad thing.

Rather than being cause for fear and mistrust, these differences create an opportunity for expanding our knowledge and appreciation of the diversity of the human experience, and for learning from people who see things differently than we do, while at the same time finding out we do inevitably have some things in common, because we’re all human.

The program for Saturday May 4 lasts from 8:30 a.m. through 5 p.m., and the cost for the whole day of seminars is $15. Topics include hospitality and business in a multi-faith world; “G/hosts, guests, strangers and enemies in a multi-faith world;” and the importance of hospitality in everyday life, including overviews of hospitality in core religious traditions.

The seminars are followed by a dinner from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the nearby First Congregational Church (admission $15), then a theatrical performance called “The Good Person of Szechwan” from 7 - 9:30 pm in the church’s sanctuary (admission $10).

Sunday May 5 is a two-hour follow-up meeting from 2 – 4 p.m., which will serve as a recap of the summit and discuss ways of using what everyone has learned to generate ideas to help increase cooperation and a sense of welcome between diverse faith communities for a more peaceful society.

If you can only make it to part of the summit, which may be the case for me, I’m thinking the best session to attend would be the last one of the seminars, which is the one discussing multi-faith hospitality in daily life and the role hospitality has traditionally played on the major faiths of the world. Check my blog next week for my take on what I learned at the summit.

For more background info about the Hospitality Initiative, please feel free to check out my previous blog entries regarding the Michigan Professional Communicators meetings, particularly the June 2012 one.

Pre-registration for the summit is available at the Hospitality Initiative Web site,; you can also find the address of and directions to the venue on there. Pre-registration for the whole summit is $35, and on-site registration is $40.

Please feel free to share this with everyone you know who you think may be interested—including your temples, schools, and workplaces! I hope to see you there.


Illustration by Karla Joy Huber, 2010; Oil pastel

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