In a world where division and intolerance seem to be on the rise, the Interfaith Study Group offers a space where people of different faiths can come together and learn from one another.
Founded in 2007 by the All Saints Church in Pasadena, the Islamic Center of Southern California, and the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, the Interfaith Study Group was created to promote understanding and appreciation for different faith traditions.
The Interfaith Study Group started small, with book readings, but it quickly grew and evolved.
“Originally, they focused on reading books (i.e.. Three Cups of Tea), but as our organization grew, having speakers making presentations on faith traditions and topics of mutual concern became more popular at our monthly meetings,” said Interfaith Study Group Chairperson John Hyde.
For February’s meeting on Sunday, Feb. 12, 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. the Interfaith Study Group will feature broadcast journalist Val Zavala.
A veteran journalist, Zavala will speak on “The Changing News Landscape: From Cronkite to Fake News.”
Zavala spent 30 years as a broadcast journalist at KCET public television in Los Angeles, winning numerous journalism awards, including 19 LA Area Emmy Awards. She retired in 2018.
According to Hyde, her presentation will focus on how TV News has evolved from three huge networks to cable, streaming and podcasts with declining quality.
“The faith of Americans in the integrity of the news they receive has been threatened over the years.”
“I sense that an effort to divide Americans is hard at work and that the public is concerned about truth and how their faiths and houses of worship will be portrayed in the future,” Hyde said about the meeting.
The meeting will be held at the Islamic Center of Southern California at 434 S.Vermont Ave, Los Angeles.
“We do encourage those who would like to join us to: Please bring an open heart, a mind willing to listen and learn, and a vegetarian dish to share in our potluck,” said Hyde.
Interfaith Study Group’s Work and Mission
The 8-man leadership at Interfaith Study Group, who represent three collaborating places of worship, gathers every month for a planning meeting to develop possible topics for future events and speakers.
“The work and mission of the Interfaith Study Group is to work collaboratively to build kinship among Abrahamic and other faith traditions,” said Hyde.
“Our inclusive mission is supported with noted speakers and interesting topics of mutual interest as we rotate our monthly meetings between Mosque, Church and Temple.”
Every 2 years, the leadership at Interfaith Study Group rotates between Church, Mosque and Temple.
The group meets on the second Sunday of each month between September and June. Events are held at one of the three religious institutions and attendees share a pot-luck vegetarian meal together.
“At every meeting we enjoy discussing the presentation over a potluck dinner and end with a question-and-answer session. Shortly after our meeting a writeup of our event is sent to all our members along with a YouTube video.”
“Anyone of any faith or no faith at all can join our meetings. We have had presentations from Buddhists, Zen Buddhists, Quakers, Methodists, Indigenous Americans, Hindus, Shinto, Mormons and more,” said Hyde.
According to him, meeting topics range from environmental concerns, Afghan immigration, sufism, journeys of faith, sumo’s shinto spirit and more.
“One of the discoveries we’ve made is that exploring different religious traditions not only helps us appreciate other faiths; it also deepens the understanding of our own,” said Hyde.
Apart from its public meetings, the Interfaith Study Group also organizes other programs.
“Before Covid, we enjoyed Iftar dinners at All Saints-Pasadena, a tour of Islamic Art at MOCA and a visit to Homeboy Industries in downtown LA,” said Hyde.
For information about the upcoming meeting on Feb. 12, contact Amanda McCormick at (626) 583-2732.