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Morrow-McCombs Memorial Lecture brings Interfaith Amigos to offer words of wisdom to diverse Inland Empire community

San Bernardino – A pastor, a rabbi and a sheikh might seem the perfect setup for a joke, but for the Inland Empire, the combination is a perfect setup for serious discussion. The 24th Annual Morrow-McCombs Memorial Lecture is bringing a trio of clergymen who call themselves the Interfaith Amigos to the Inland Empire. Their discussion, “What is the Heart of Interfaith?”, will be at 7:30 p.m. March 29 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 3041 North Sierra Way, San Bernardino.

The event is free and open to the public. In their talk, Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Sheikh Jamal Rahman will discuss how people can find common ground in diverse faith traditions by exploring the shared values of love, compassion and peace. However, it’s their approach to differences that raises eyebrows.

“One of the problems in the past with interfaith dialogue is we’ve been too unwilling to upset each other,” Falcon said.

Rather than avoiding the differences, the Interfaith Amigos approach conflicts head-on. They said they became close by addressing contentious issues — such as anti-Semitism, Holy Book verses that offend, Israel, violence against other groups in the name of religion and who holds the ultimate truth.

“If we get to know each other, we will be able not only to be open to the beauty and wisdom of each other’s traditions, but we can find spiritual healing for our deeply wounded human family,” Rahman said.

The Interfaith Amigos aim to guide people to move beyond separation and suspicion of those who are different, inquire more deeply about other traditions, share both the easy and hard parts of each tradition, move beyond the safe territory and explore spiritual practices of other traditions.

“Too often religion seems to fuel more hatred than love and more conflict than collaboration,” Mackenzie said. “The creeds of each faith might differ, but the core of each is love.”

Their talk stems from each man’s personal journey in his faith and his friendship with his fellow clergymen. The minister and the rabbi met in a Christian-Jewish dialogue group, and the rabbi and the sheikh met as board members of a university. Falcon reached out to Rahman after Sept. 11, 2001 to conduct several interfaith workshops, and for the first anniversary of the attacks, Falcon invited Mackenzie to get involved.

Their friendship evolved from those dialogues and the clergymen now tour the country together and host the Interfaith Talk Radio show. Recently, they wrote a book, “Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

About the speakers

Falcon is a popular teacher of Jewish traditions of meditation and spirituality who explores the frontier of interfaith spirituality. Ordained in 1968 at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Falcon served in Los Angeles as a congregational and then a campus rabbi until earning a doctorate in professional psychology in 1975. He pursued a career in spiritually oriented psychotherapy and in 1978 founded Makom Ohr Shalom, a synagogue for Jewish spirituality. His books include “Judaism for Dummies” and “A Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life.”

Mackenzie recently retired as minister and head of staff at University Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle. Previously he served congregations in Hanover, N.H., and Princeton, N.J. Ordained in 1970, he is a graduate of Macalester College, Princeton Theological Seminary and New York University. His interest in interfaith work began while a student at Macalester and continued while living and teaching in Sidon, Lebanon, in 1966. His country music band, Life’s Other Side, recorded the sound track for the documentary film “Family Name” and has sung at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Rahman is co-founder and Muslim Sufi minister at Interfaith Community Church and adjunct faculty at Seattle University. Besides working with his own congregation, he collaborates actively in joint programs with Falcon and Mackenzie. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of California-Berkeley. He has a passion for interfaith work, travels often and presents at retreats and workshops. His books include “The Fragrance of Faith – the Enlightened Heart of Islam” and “Out of Darkness Into Light – Spiritual Guidance in the Quran With Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources.”

The annual Morrow-McCombs Memorial Lecture was established at California State University San Bernardino in 1987 to help further positive relations between Christians and Jews. It has since been expanded to include Christian, Jewish and Islamic relations.
Further information is available by calling (909)886-3666.

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