Abilene Interfaith Council Active Despite COVID
By NANCY PATRICK
As with most social, business, educational, and spiritual organizations, the Abilene Interfaith Council (AIC) has had to make many changes in its structure and performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. These months have challenged all organizations as they try to retain their missions and purposes while observing safety and healthcare precautions at the same time.
Most readers of Spirit of Abilene are probably familiar with the AIC, but many of you may not know exactly what the organization does. Its purpose is to promote communication, understanding, and peace among people of different faiths who live together in our community.
I serve along with nine other members on the board. In order to plan and conduct “programs” this year, we have come together via Zoom for our monthly meetings.
AIC is open to any faith group that would like to participate. Before COVID-19, the council held monthly in-person meetings. These meetings usually included a speaker or visual presentation to provide information that would help other faith groups understand the tenets and practices of the speaker’s faith.
These meetings included lunch at noon sessions, but meetings were sometimes held in the evenings. In the past, AIC sponsored special events such as bringing Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Dr. Arun Gandhi, to Abilene a few years ago. The 2020-2021 calendar has presented special challenges to the board as we have sought ways to continue meeting our mission without endangering people in group meetings.
The board came up with a plan to interview various faith leaders in our community. Along with the interview, we wanted to include tours of the featured facilities with a focus on that faith’s tenets, symbols, and practices.
The board is fortunate to have some talented people who are tech savvy and willing to do the work of the tours and interviews. Angela Nicolini, Grace Sosa, and Greg Wilson film the sessions as Pierce LoPachin interviews the spiritual leader. As with any project of this nature, much more is filmed than can be used, so Grace has the ability to edit the footage and put together the final product.
This fall we have produced three videos: Dyess AFB chaplains’ department, the Jewish synagogue (Temple Mizpah), and the Abilene Hindu Temple. I invite you to browse our webpage at https://www.abileneinterfaith.org/ to see some of the community activities in which we participate. We were part of Giving Tuesday and are also included in United Way’s Leave Five program (a plan to include nonprofits in estate planning). In addition, you can find us on Facebook.
Plans for the remainder of the school year include interviews regarding the fefugee experience, the Episcopal Church of Heavenly Rest, Curtis House Cultural Center, and participation in the National Day of Prayer in May. Although Abilene does not have a mosque, it does have a prayer room housed at McMurry University. Plans are underway to visit with the Imam and observe the prayer room.
Abilene Interfaith Council invites you to join us. Membership information is on the webpage (annual dues are $25 per person). Most of this year’s interviews will be available to the public via links on the webpage. We hope you will view them and consider becoming a part of the organization.
Nancy Patrick is a regular contributor to Spirit of Abilene and a member of the Abilene Interfaith Council board