Save the Date: Tuesday, September 15
, 2009
Join us for our first potluck of the year as we celebrate our 2009/2010 theme:
Interfaith Interface: Deepening Connection Through Unity and Collaboration

Our scheduled speaker is Gwendolyn Van Sant, co-founder and executive director of B.R.I.D.G.E. Gwendolyn will share the mission of her organization and has invited four women to speak about their faith and how it drives them. An open discussion will follow.
Presenters:Mikka Barkman,Gabriela Cruz,Shirley Edgerton and Kaya Stern-Kaufman.

Reflection Questions: What does faith mean to you and how does it manifest in your life?
What does WII's theme "Interfaith/Interface: Deepening Connection through Unity and Collaboration mean to you personally and in connection to WII?

Please bring a traditional "heritage dish" to the potluck to share.

Where: Church on the Hill Chapel
55 Main Street
Lenox, MA

(The brown building is down the street from the main church, and across the street from Nejaime's Wine Cellar. Please use entrance on right side of building.)

When: 5:45 - 8:45pm

5:45 Gathering with food

6:00 Welcome circle

6:15 Potluck supper

7:15 Program

8:45 Closure and clean up

From a July 2009 story in the Berkshire Eagle:

Yazuri Santos, 6, helps other students in the BRIDGE summer youth program count to 10

in both English and Spanish on Tuesday. (Photo by Darren Vanden Berge.)

BRIDGE, short for Berkshire Resources for the Integration of Diverse Groups and Education, was co-founded by WII-B board member Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant. As executive director of BRIDGE, Gwen has been providing cultural competency training to town employees that is designed to familiarize personnel with a growing immigrant population.

BRIDGE's new home in Housatonic, MA has enabled the pilot of a summer program on literacy and tolerance for children ages 2 to 12, and their families. After the summer, Gwen hopes the model can be introduced to local youth centers and schools. The program brings in volunteer teachers to introduce age- and ability-appropriate words, books, songs and other activities in both Spanish and English languages. Other activities include guest workshops with Youth Alive step dance troupe, Norman Rockwell Museum, and staff from the Berkshire South Regional Community Center and Housatonic Playground group.

Reverend Natalie Shiras of Church-on-the-Hill in Lenox, MA, former WII Board member, shows photo of children in India who benefited from the John A. Sellon Charitable Trust grant and Women's Interfaith Initiative

June 16, 2009

Women's Interfaith Initiatives Cross Borders

with John A. Sellon Charitable Trust

Reverend Natalie Shiras and Pauline Dongala's Faith in Action

Join us on a journey to Ghana and the Congo as Reverend Natalie Shiras and Pauline Dongala share their stories and a slide show about initiatives that were funded through the Women's Interfaith Institute and the John A. Sellon Charitable Trust.

Reverend Natalie Shiras, pastor of Church-on-the-Hill in Lenox, MA, recently traveled building interfaith and cross-cultural bridges in Russia, Turkey, Ghana, Nepal and India. WII funds helped re-build a church roof in Accra, Ghana and funded medical and food supplies for disabled pensioners and their families in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Pauline Dongala, former WII board member, reaches out to the Republic of the Congo with her WII Initiative funded by the John A. Sellon Charitable Trust

Pauline Dongala is supporting two projects in the Republic of the Congo: rebuilding a church and supporting a skills-training center for women in Kinkala, Congo.


May 14, 2009

The Feminine, Sufism and Islam

Join us for an enlightening talk about the Feminine in Sufism and Islam. Zumurrud Butta from Vienna, Austria, is a Senior Teacher in the Sufi Order, Retreat Guide and European Head of Universal Worship. She will discuss the role of the feminine in the mystical traditions of Sufism and Islam. She is a member of the Ibn'Arabi Society and fluent in Arabic and Urdu. In addition to her many accomplishments, she is a delightful, warm person who is sure to leave us with a deeper appreciation of being women on the spiritual path.