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Participating Congregations and Organizations
  • American Muslim Voice
  • Beyt Tikkun Synagogue
  • First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) Palo Alto
  • First Evangelical Lutheran Church Palo Alto
  • First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto
  • First United Methodist Church Palo Alto
  • Network of Spiritual Progressives
  • Palo Alto Friends Meeting
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Palo Alto (Catholic)
  • Trinity Church in Menlo Park (Episcopal)
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
  • West Bay Chapter, Buddhist Peace Fellowship

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Bystander Intervention Training

What do you do if you are in a public place and witness hateful harassment?
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A BYSTANDER!

Wednesday, May 2, 7-9pm
St. Albert the Great Church
1095 Channing Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Click here for directions.

Gain tools and practice to be able to respond to hate incidents due to religion, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or any other factors.
Learn how to overcome the bystander effect and de-escalate the situation in a non-confrontational way.

Led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and sponsored by Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, this is the first time this training will be presented in Palo Alto.

The workshop is free. Donations will be accepted at the event. 

Help us spread the word by sharing our Facebook page.

Click here to download a PDF flyer.  Click here to download a jpg flyer. 

Click here to read a San Jose Mercury News article about the workshop.

Everyone is welcome.
To register, complete the form below (click "Read more" if you don't see the form) and hit "Submit."
Registration is very helpful, but not required.


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UPDATED: Faith Coalition Condemns Nomination of Haspel for CIA due to Past Record on Torture

UPDATE: It is expected that the U.S. Senate will take up the nominations of Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel when they return from recess the week of April 7. Please call your Senators every single day until the vote is taken. One of California's own Senators, Diane Feinstein, is a particularly important contact - she has not said yet how she will vote! CALL SENATOR FEINSTEIN every day and URGE HER TO VOTE AGAINST GINA HASPEL on deep moral grounds.  Call Feinstein's office at 202-224-3841 or 415-393-0707 to say NO to Haspel!

March 13, 2018 Press Release:
"With news that President Trump plans to nominate CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to replace Mike Pompeo as CIA Director, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) reiterates its call for no new government jobs for torturers. Rev. Ron Stief, Executive Director, said, 'It is morally repugnant that a former head of a CIA torture site who helped destroy videotaped evidence of torture would be elevated to the role of CIA Director. Haspel cannot be trusted to follow the law nor represent our country's fundamental values of ethical government and transparency.'"

As a long-time member of NRCAT, Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice asks you to:
1) contact your Senators and urge them to VOTE NO on Haspel nomination. (See below for contact information for Senators Feinstein and Harris.)
2) sign NRCAT's petition to the U.S. Senate stating, "It is a moral outrage for someone who headed a CIA torture site and destroyed videotaped evidence of torture to become CIA Director. Stand up for our democracy and the rule of law by blocking President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA Director." Click here to sign.

Background material from the ACLU and a link to a letter signing page to U.S. Senators (where you can sign the letter as is or add your own comments) is provided by this Peninsula Peace & Justice Center action page. Or you may use the information below to contact California Senators directly.



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Thoughts & Prayers - or Isaiah? A Response to the High School Shooting in Florida

In response to the horrific shooting at a high school in Floriday, MVPJ member Craig Wiesner wrote an article for Tikkun Daily Blog. Start it here then go to the Tikkun website to read the whole piece.

"Thoughts and Prayers? What the Prophet Isaiah Said"
by Craig Wiesner

17 more dead. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” Sackcloth, ashes, bowing your head… Actually, on the night 17 people were killed in Florida, I thought to myself that maybe my husband and I should fast. We didn’t. We did sit and watch the news as details of the mass shooting at a high school in Florida were slowly revealed. We closed our eyes in prayer, feeling helpless, angry, sad.

17 dead, the shooter in custody, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, neighbors, grieving. A chorus rings out “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” Two words come to mind when I hear or read that phrase coming from people in power who could do so much more than think and pray. Then, yesterday, the pastor of our church asked me if I would lead the Time for the Child in us all at church this Sunday. “What’s the scripture?” I asked. Curious? Read on!


Isaiah 58:1-5 English Standard Version (ESV)

True and False Fasting

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;

lift up your voice like a trumpet;

declare to my people their transgression,

to the house of Jacob their sins.


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Multifaith Prayers for Peace on 11th of the Month

Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace
7-7:30pm on 11th of every month

NEXT GATHERING: Wednesday, April 11, 7-7:30pm, hosted by the Palo Alto Baha'i Community, at the Palo Alto Art Center
, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, in the Meeting Room (through the main doors across from the library)

In the midst of difficult times, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice will host “Peaceful Presence,” a monthly prayer service on the evening of the 11th of each month, offering a time of quiet multifaith prayers for peace and strength for the journey.  All are welcome: those of all faith traditions and of no defined faith, those who are suffering at the hands of their own government, those who need a pause in the midst of intensive work on behalf of others, and all who would like to pray with others for the well-being of all.  The prayer time will include elements from several religious traditions.

Upcoming
Wednesday, April 11, 7-7:30pm, hosted by the Palo Alto Baha'i Community, at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, in the Meeting Room (through the main doors across from the library)
Friday, May 11, 7-7:30pm, Friends Meeting House, 957 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto
Monday, June 11, 7-7:30pm, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 745 Waverley St., Palo Alto


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NEW MVPJ Solidarity Team Plans in Place

Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice (MVPJ) has set up a process which will allow us to respond quickly with publicly visible acts of solidarity on behalf of any religious, ethnic, or other vulnerable communities in our local area which are being threatened, or which have been harmed or violated in some way.  Examples of triggers could be receipt of hate mail, defacing of property, threats to the well-being of the community or to a member of the community.   Our goal is to gather in response and public solidarity within 24-48 hours of learning about the incident. These MVPJ solidarity responses will be faithful, peaceful demonstrations of solidarity and friendship, and do not require the training necessary for the Rapid Response teams who will be possibly confronting ICE agents or raids.  Supportive, peaceful, faith-based signs may be brought by participants to these public solidarity events. 
 
When an action is needed, our email subject title will be “IMMEDIATE LOCAL RESPONSE NEEDED”, and the body of the email will include instructions as to where and when to gather.
 
If your community is targeted or threatened in some way, and you want to ask for a public show of solidarity, or simply discuss this possibility, please contact us through this email: solidarity@multifaithpeace.org. You may certainly talk with anyone on the MVPJ steering committee personally if you prefer, however the "solidarity@multifaithpeace.org" email is set up to be checked several times every day, for a quick response.
 
If your community is required to evacuate its premises due to an emergency such as a bomb threat or threatening graffiti and needs an alternate space for worship or study on short notice, we have several congregations who are willing to host you if at all possible. You may inquire about this offer through solidarity@multifaithpeace.org and we will help you connect to these communities as quickly as possible. 
 
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice Non-Violent Commitment
 
In all actions that it takes, members of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice commit to the principles of non-violence, and pledge that all their actions will be peaceful, respectful, prayerful and non-violent.

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Prayers for the Suffering of Rohingya People

Please join in the prayers and pleas for compassion as shared by the Elijah Interfaith Institute:

"Saddened by the suffering of Rohingiya people, which has been added to the suffering of so many other human being during the last few weeks,  we, Buddhist and Muslim Leaders, associated with the Elijah Interfaith Institute, as well as leaders of other faith traditions, invoke the timeless aspiration of humankind for compassion and love, and yearning for guidance, succor, and help from supra-human realms so powerfully captured in the two prayers below—one from Buddhist sources and the second from the opening chapter of the Quran. We wish to recall this common teaching and high moral and spiritual yearning of the human soul at this point in time, especially in view of the suffering of the Rohingiya Muslims who are being persecuted and are suffering due to policies of a Buddhist majority state."


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Sept. 11 Peaceful Presence

Over 200 people braved the thunder and rain on King Plaza in Palo Alto for a Peace Picnic followed by Multifaith Prayers for Peace & Justice. (For the words of the poem read at the picnic, click here.) The program included all ages, many faith traditions and people from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds.  

Gathering songs were led by Chris Lundin of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic parish, and the Mitzvah Singers from Congregation Etz Chaim, both in Palo Alto.


Other musical offerings came from Baha'i singers Mahrou Derakshani and Chris French, young adults from the Sathya Sai International Organization, Region 7, and a children's choir from Congregation Beth Am.


 

The Sound of the Shofar, an Islamic Call to Prayer, a Christian Call to Worship and a Buddhist invitation to silence called us together, and Rabbi Amy Eilberg welcomed us into community and prayer. Speakers included Cantor Jaime Shpall from Congregation Beth Am (pictured with the children's choir above), Farha Andrabi Navaid (pictured right) who is President of the MVPA Musalla, a worship and community center for Muslims in the Palo Alto area, Rev. Fa Jun, a Buddhist/Interfaith minister from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos (pictured left), and Rev. Annanda Barclay from the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto (pictured below in the closing circle). A Prayer of Lament was led by Farukh Basrai, from Anjuman-e-Jamali and MVPJ, and Rev. Mark Arevalo from Spark Church, Palo Alto.


Episcopal priest Rev. Frannie Hall Kieschnick led us in a closing ritual of circle, candlelight, song.  Rev. Kaloma Smith of University AME Zion Church, along with Rev. Annanda Barclay, sent us out with the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. 

MVPJ holds Peaceful Presence Prayer gatherings on the 11th of every month.
On October 11 the Baha'i Community of Palo Alto will host the service. Click here for more information.

We thank Chris Cassell and Alfred Leung, afflicates of Pro-Bono Photography for the wonderful photos!  To see more great pictures taken by them, click here and here. If you share these photos, please be sure to give them credit!


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Sept. 11 Multifaith Prayer of Lament

O God of Many Names,

Mystery of all Creation,

Source of Life and Love,

You who teach our spirits to sing,

And our hearts to weep:

We gather to celebrate our oneness, to pray for peace, to stand for love, to light a candle -- in a nation and a world that seem filled with division, violence, hatred and darkness.
     RESPONSE: O God, hear our cry.

Give us courage to name and face the gaping wounds and evils around us:

The hatred that led to the attacks of September 11, 2001; the devastation and death of many innocent lives that day; the ensuing spiral of war, revenge and human rights violations, shattering lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and beyond, as well as lives of U.S. women and men in uniform, their families, communities, and friends.
     RESPONSE: O God, hear our cry.

Hatred and white supremacy – from Charlottesville to Palo Alto; xenophobia and bigotry that treat some people as disposable;

Nationalism that justifies war and torture, the build up of weapons of mass destruction, bans on Muslims and refugees, cruel immigration policies and the destruction of dreams;
     RESPONSE: O God, hear our cry.

Religious hypocrisy that denies the sacred image of God in each and every human being;

Ignorance that denies the real crisis of our planet, that offers weak platitudes rather than wise policies in the face of ecological catastrophe;
    
RESPONSE: O God, hear our cry.

For all we do, and all we tolerate, that destroys the dreams of our children, of any child, for a chance to live in a just and peaceful world.
     RESPONSE: O God, hear our cry.


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"WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER" - Poetry from Multifaith Peace Picnic

Many people asked about the wonderful poem written and read by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry (pictured left reading it at the picnic) during the Peace Picnic program.
 
"WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER" 
  ... by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry 
  
We can be boys and we can be girls
But altogether we'll shine like pearls 
 
We can be black and we can be white 
But altogether we'll have the might 

We can be short and we can be tall
But altogether we'll never fall 
 
We can be strong and we can be weak
But altogether we'll be unique 
 
We can be poor and we can be rich 
But altogether we'll make the switch 
 
We can be fast and we can be slow 
But altogether we'll make it flow 
 
We can be right and we can be wrong 
But altogether we will be strong!

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Resources for Challenging Times

We are collecting helpful resources from other organizations. 

Here are some we have found so far:

Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Resource Guide - Great resource from Southern Poverty Law Center.

Do's and Don'ts for Bystander Intervention - A one page list of important guidelines from the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization).


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Events
Quote of the Week

My heart is open to all the winds... Wherever God's caravans turn, the religion of love shall be my religion. And my faith.

- Ibn 'Arabi, 13th Century Sufi traveler & mystic