Thursday, September 8, 2011

Interfaith Commemorations of 9/11

The corresponding video can be found at:

Other videos mentioned or seen during this chat can be found at: (documentary) (Tony Blair) (Desmond Tutu)

9/8/2011 12:45 pm (et) Moderator: logs in on 9/8/2011 12:45 pm (et).
9/8/2011 12:53 pm (et) Susan: private message to Moderator: logs in on 9/8/2011 12:53 pm (et).
9/8/2011 12:57 pm (et) Laura S: private message to Moderator: logs in on 9/8/2011 12:57 pm (et).
9/8/2011 1:00 pm (et) Moderator: Welcome! This is Rebecca from the InterFaith Conference (IFC) and I will be your moderator. As this is still new, let me explain how this will work. On the right, you will see a video playing of our current topic to get the conversation going. If you have a comment and/or question send it along to me, the moderator. As long as I deem it appropriate, the comment will be posted to everyone and the speaker will have the opportunity to answer your question.
9/8/2011 1:00 pm (et) Moderator: Today, our topic is ‘Interfaith Commemorations of 9/11.’ The reflection is from Mr. Kyle Poole, Founder of 9/11 Unity Walk. More information on the event and his work can be found at
9/8/2011 1:00 pm (et) Moderator: As always, I would like to remind you of the rules of our engagement. This is a respectful place where we come together to learn more about the religions of the world. Whether you agree or disagree, we welcome your comments and questions that are posed in a respectful manner. Please no profane or offensive remarks, they will not be posted. Also, this is a place of learning, so please refrain from ‘soapboxing.’ If there are any issues or questions about this, they can be submitted along with the comments pertaining to our topic. I am here to make this a pleasant and educational experience for all, so enjoy and remember there are no stupid questions, just hostile ones!
9/8/2011 1:00 pm (et) Moderator: You can now view the beginning comments on the right. As you listen, please feel free to start sending questions or comments (YES, we want your comments). Also, the video will remain within the sidebar, so feel free to return to it as you wish. Our chat window automatically refreshes to keep the flow going, but if you wish to view the whole of the conversation, just hit the archive button. And lastly, PLEASE do not use double quotes as it leads to some issues.
9/8/2011 1:04 pm (et) Rachel: private message to Moderator: logs in on 9/8/2011 1:04 pm (et).
9/8/2011 1:07 pm (et) Moderator: Hi everyone, so Kyle is super busy as the Unity Walk is just a couple of days away, so he will be popping in and out, but we can certainly have our discussion.
9/8/2011 1:08 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Has anyone here been on this walk in past years? I plan to go for the first time this year
9/8/2011 1:08 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I haven't been yet either, but plan on going this year too, it should be amazing!
9/8/2011 1:09 pm (et) Moderator: Rachel said: How long has this walk been going on
9/8/2011 1:09 pm (et) Moderator: I believe they have been going for the last six years, so 2005 was the first year.
9/8/2011 1:11 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: What do you guys think is unique about the interfaith experience, especially on such a big anniversary
9/8/2011 1:11 pm (et) Moderator: Rachel said: This definitely embraces what the InterFaith Conference is all about. What a great idea!
9/8/2011 1:14 pm (et) Kyle Poole: logs in on 9/8/2011 1:14 pm (et).
9/8/2011 1:15 pm (et) Moderator: Rachel said: It lets you walk alongside with all people on a day that impacted all people
9/8/2011 1:15 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I am obviouly an advocate for interfaith, but could this possibly be the wrong emphasis? I mean it is important to show that no religion was actually at fault in this action, so does calling attention to religion gloss over this or make it more prominent?
9/8/2011 1:16 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S has shared a link to the video of the Unity Walk that you can now see on the right
9/8/2011 1:17 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: are similar walks taking place elsewhere?
9/8/2011 1:17 pm (et) LauraG: private message to Moderator: logs in on 9/8/2011 1:17 pm (et).
9/8/2011 1:18 pm (et) Moderator: Rachel said: I know we seem to be focusing on the religious aspect of these people but there is also the cultural side that will be embraced
9/8/2011 1:18 pm (et) sheaandmae: private message to Moderator: logs in on 9/8/2011 1:18 pm (et).
9/8/2011 1:19 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: logs in on 9/8/2011 1:19 pm (et).
9/8/2011 1:20 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Unfortunately, the major unity walk event is Sunday, and the fundraiser is tonight; I won’t be able to fully participate in the Chat, but want to share with you an introduction to the Walk that I wrote this morning . . .
9/8/2011 1:21 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Has there been any opposition to the walk in past years?
9/8/2011 1:21 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: How long (miles) is the walk from start to end?
9/8/2011 1:21 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Dear Friends, For the 6th year, every Church, Synagogue, Temple and Mosque on Embassy Row opens up their doors to build bridges of respect to each other and to symbolically show the World a dramatic display of unity to commemorate the tragedy of 9/11. Reminiscent of Gandhi’s Walks, people of all faiths, and many of no faith, gather along Embassy Row in Washington, DC, to put aside their differences and learn about each other in a fun, authentic atmosphere. I’m just a North Carolina Presbyterian who had an idea which was brought to reality in our living room by Erik Schwartz, Dan Tutt, and wife to be Meg Clifford. Out of the humble beginnings, the 9/11 Unity Walk has now been broadcast nationally and internationally and attracted the attention of world leaders like Desmond Tutu and Tony Blair. The lifelong friendships that have been made have enabled the Unity Walk to broaden its impact by establishing year-round youth led service projects through the Interfaith Youth Action Group (IYAG) – indeed, service is now a key component of the Walk. The impact of the Unity Walk is felt locally, and well beyond. For Washington, it’s a testament to a city not known for coming together, at least not politically. In fact, the Walk is completely apolitical with no signs, banners or placards. Washingtonians should be proud that such bridge building and respect comes from the heart of their city. Nationally and even internationally, it’s a statement of what is possible from Washington – the fact that people care enough to put aside their differences, come together, and learn about each other. The Unity Walk is very moving, with walkers and worship houses alike often going beyond what is comfortable. Consider that hearing a Muslim call to prayer at a Jewish synagogue or hearing the sweet sound of “Amazing Grace” being sung over Mosque loudspeakers is, quite frankly, unthinkable in many parts of the world! As you enjoy the Walk, eating great food, and meeting your neighbor, please take a moment to realize the global impact that your very presence makes. On behalf of myself, and all the committees, and all of the volunteers, but most of all, on behalf of every house of worship on Embassy Row, we thank that you for coming, and hope you have a meaningful, uplifting experience.
9/8/2011 1:23 pm (et) Kyle Poole: And also, if I can get it posted, we are premiering a video by Tony Blair on the Unity Walk, tonight at our fundraiser . . . so this will be a pre-premiere, premiere of the video
9/8/2011 1:23 pm (et) Moderator: That would be great!
9/8/2011 1:24 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Rev. Lobenstine, you are now online and Kyle mentions you in the video have you dont the walk in the past as well?
9/8/2011 1:25 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: is there any anticipated possible danger in the walk? Given that this is a large gathering in the nation's capital on 9-11
9/8/2011 1:25 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: could be a target for someone
9/8/2011 1:26 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Yea, I could imagine some danger n that as well, Laura...althopugh that is quite unfortunate
9/8/2011 1:27 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Kyle, is that statement you wrote going to be a speech given at the opening of Sunday's walk?
9/8/2011 1:28 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: While there are some who will fear the possibility of violence, I don't focus on this nor fear it. Come, join us and send a wonder-full message to others!
9/8/2011 1:29 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: What is unique about the messga eClark? I guess what I mean is what is unique in the interfaith message it sends?
9/8/2011 1:30 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I think the message is that of UNITY - that we come together as ONE with a higher cause than that of what separates us
9/8/2011 1:30 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Kyle Poole's opening statement on video answers this well, I think.
9/8/2011 1:31 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Laura has said it well as well!
9/8/2011 1:31 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Laura: the statement is an intro in the 9/11 Unity Walk booklet given out to Walk participants
9/8/2011 1:31 pm (et) Moderator: Rachel said: But this gathering of all people shows that we are not fearful and join together to show our committment to differances in religion and culture and acceptance of such.
9/8/2011 1:32 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I don't think any in the room have been to something like the walk, can you tell us about the experience, I guess more specifically what it feels like to be part of such a group?
9/8/2011 1:34 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Its a wonderful experience of unity and diversity and I sure hope you will join us, Susan
9/8/2011 1:34 pm (et) Kyle Poole: To address the talk of what some may perceive as potentially controversial aspects of the Walk, the Walk is somewhat of a cross between a Church Open House and a Gandhi style walk--we have never had even a protester at a Unity Walk
9/8/2011 1:35 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Kyle, how has the Walk evolved over the years from the first one. Is is basically the same as the first or what had been changed or added over the years?
9/8/2011 1:37 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: You began the walk in 2005, and 4 years is hardly a long time to put that together, but were there reasons for it taking 4 years to put together?I am just thinking of the immediate aftermath of 9/11, do you think America was ready then for something like this?
9/8/2011 1:38 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: One important change that has taken place is having the opportunity to visit one of two or three of the congregations and experience something of what is central to their tradition.
9/8/2011 1:39 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: There are three major places for the walkers to gather -- at Washington Hebrew Congregation, The Islamic Center and the Gandhi Memorial'
9/8/2011 1:39 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I was young back then, and all I knew is that Islamaphobia was raging right after 9/11, but was interfaith happening too?
9/8/2011 1:40 pm (et) Moderator: Rachel said: Have there been survivors of the attack that attend
9/8/2011 1:41 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Yes, there are wonderful examples of interaith relations in response to the terrorist attacks. There was some violence, name calling or worse, but the spirit of the country was primarily one of unity or of realizing I don't know much about that faith.
9/8/2011 1:41 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: susan, Interfaith activity has been happening for decades (IFC since 1979, for example). Is there more interfaith activity in the past 10 years? or are simple more people aware of such activity?
9/8/2011 1:42 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: How about the youth that come to the event, how do you think it shapes them? I was probably right at the cusp of truly understanding what was happening, but I think of people younger than me and truly wonder how all this sits on them
9/8/2011 1:43 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: I would say yes to both questions. There is definitely more interfaith actively in the past 10 years AND there is more awareness of that activity!
9/8/2011 1:43 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Laura, as an example of the Walk's evolution over the years: We now begin the walk with a Muslim Call to Prayer at a Synagogue, have Pentecostals speaking in tongues at Christ Church (our second
stop), and have Gospel singers singing Amazing Grace at a Mosque
9/8/2011 1:44 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: So what was the first walk like? Has the atmosphere changed?
9/8/2011 1:44 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Also--to answer the question regarding why the Walk was not started until 2005, there was a call for service projects by the Points of Light foundation in early 2005. The event was in response
for that call.
9/8/2011 1:45 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Kids and youth are certainly an important part of the Unity Walk. Passing the message on to the next generation is a commitment of the planners of the 9/11
9/8/2011 1:45 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: As I anticipate where I might stop in during the walk, how much time and how many of the different places might I spend that time in vs actually walking? IOW, how far do we walk? how long will the walking itself take? and how much additional time can we plan to stop in at some of the open houses?
9/8/2011 1:46 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: There is 30-40 minutes planned for each of three stops at congregations you choose between Washington Hebrew Congregation and the Islamic Center.
9/8/2011 1:46 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: 30-40 minutes EACH or total?
9/8/2011 1:47 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: It's interesting to hear talk of 'passing it on.' Not to draw a straight line of comparison, because tragedies are incomparable, but do you think this sits in our conciousness as Americans as say Shoah for the Jewish people?
9/8/2011 1:47 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: The Unity Walk is scheduled to start at 1:30 and be over at 5:30 at the Gandhi Memorial. The planners hope you come for all of it, but some for any part of it if you cannot stay for all of it.!
9/8/2011 1:48 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: No, I don't think that 9/11 stands in the same way as the Shoah does for Jews, but it is certainly a major event in very recent history.
9/8/2011 1:49 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Hmm, I feel like it can make an interesting study as years pass....exactly how formative is it to the American consciousness...Sorry, thinking out loud
9/8/2011 1:49 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: One of the challenges the planners have faced is that 9/11/01 was a terrorist attack on the US, not on other countries. While there was great support for America right afterwards, those in England, for example, may well choose a different day for a unity walk because of the anniversary of another significant event in their lives, especially one of terrorism.
9/8/2011 1:50 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: the very first day I recall hearing the 9-11 event compared to Pearl Harbor
9/8/2011 1:51 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Yea, I remember that too Laura....I guess time will tell where it will end up in the American ethos
9/8/2011 1:51 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: And I heard a speaker say last night at a mosque that different generations may well have different events seared into their memory. That could be Pearl Harbor, or the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.
9/8/2011 1:52 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: All I know is even this week has been difficult as we are being bombarded with the memory, Sunday will be an emotional day
9/8/2011 1:53 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: being the 10 year anniversary I think also makes it more significant
9/8/2011 1:53 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: The media is certainly focusing on this 10th anniversary in a way it did not on the 9th or 8th anniversary. That also makes this year's event especially important!
9/8/2011 1:53 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I guess we can say that it does offer a wonderful opportunity to be there for one another and build bridges that way
9/8/2011 1:53 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Amen, Susan!
9/8/2011 1:54 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Laura--there are three speaking stops on the Walk. In between the Hebrew Center and the Gandhi Memorial, there are three 30 minute spots, and many choices to choose from--be it delicious food at the Sikh Gurdwara, a silent meditation at Khalil park, shaking the hands of the Papal Nuncio, and touring every house of worship on Embassy Row
9/8/2011 1:55 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I think Rachel mentioned it before, but do you have survivors attend or be a part of the event?
9/8/2011 1:55 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: And I believe Laura asked earlier about the walk happening in other places, what about NYC?
9/8/2011 1:56 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Susan, good question . . . we haven't sought out or highlighted survivors, so I can't say whether they've attended or not  
9/8/2011 1:56 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I mean DC has some wonderful symbolism as the capital and with the Pentagon, but so much has focused on NYC, it would also be special there
9/8/2011 1:56 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I thought I heard something from Kyle in the video about Kansas? Turkey? Not clear if that was a HOPE that they WILL happen in other places in the future or that they ARE happening there now
9/8/2011 1:57 pm (et) Kyle Poole: Susan: we've had small walks in New York City several times in the past, but not this year
9/8/2011 1:57 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: To add to Susan's comment about this being a wonderful opportunity to be there for one another and to build bridges, Kyle Poole has asked the InterFaith Conference to again come up with a few questions which will be made available to all the walkers and which the planning committee hopes that will stimulate conversation between and among walkers, especially those who did not know each other before the Walk.
9/8/2011 1:58 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: That's great, trust is such an important component to peace building and opening up like that will surely foster trust
9/8/2011 1:58 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Clark: so we are getting those questions at the synagogue to mull over and talk about along the way?
9/8/2011 1:58 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Yes, we will get the questions at the synagogue!
9/8/2011 1:59 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Do you expect media coverage this year...has it been growing over the past several years?
9/8/2011 1:59 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I've extended to my students (for extra credit) the invitation to join the walk. Now I'll know that those who attend should get some printed information and also have these questions to ponder
9/8/2011 2:00 pm (et) Moderator: Ok everyone, we actually have to call it day, but maybe you could share one more story Clark and Kyle, what has be the most prominent memory from the walks?
9/8/2011 2:00 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: There has been some media coverage, including international media coverage. I do expect that there will be important media coverage this year because of the media's focus on the 10th anniversary.
9/8/2011 2:02 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: Seeing hundreds of persons, many hundreds of persons walking together, visiting congregations that they may never have been to before, exchanging warm greetings with strangers who are fellow walkers, experiencing the unity in diversity on the walk and its many participating congregations. These are some of the most prominent memories for me of the Unity Walk.
9/8/2011 2:02 pm (et) Moderator: Thank you for your participation today. Next week our chat is on ‘Sacred Spaces.’ We hope to see you there! If you would like to contact or guest, please contact me at
9/8/2011 2:03 pm (et) Moderator: Also, this is a new effort on our part so we welcome your feedback! Any comments will be helpful. If you have any suggestion please feel free to email me at
9/8/2011 2:03 pm (et) Moderator: This moderated chat room is just one example of the many programs which the InterFaith Conference is doing. If you are able and willing to financially support the InterFaith Conference’s vital year-round work, please donate now using the donate button on our website – You can also find out more about us and sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter.

No comments:

Post a Comment