Ashland Center for Nonviolence Asks 'Who is My Neighbor?'

3/16/11 ASHLAND, OH -- A forum among members of several of the world's major faiths will focus on the question, "Who Is My Neighbor?" at a panel discussion sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University.

The panel discussion will be held Tuesday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ridenour Room of the Dauch College of Business and Economics located on Ashland University campus. The event is free and open to the public. "Who Is My Neighbor?" was originally scheduled to be the opening program of the "Creating a Caring Community" symposium but was canceled due to weather conditions.

The hour-and-a-half long program will feature four panelists: Rabbi Joan Friedman of The College of Wooster; Hameem Habeeb, president of the Islamic Society in Mansfield; David Sherwood, lead pastor of the Five Stones Community Church in Ashland; and Father Joseph Hilinski, director of Ecumenical and Interfaith Activities for the Diocese of Cleveland.

Dr. David Aune, associate professor of religion at Ashland University, will moderate the discussion. Aune describes the symposium as an opportunity to explore ways for people of different faiths to work together, while acknowledging their differences and overcoming history of conflict in the name of religion.

"Community," according to John Stratton, executive director of the Center for Nonviolence, "is a word that is tossed about casually. Sometimes it refers to the people who happen to live around us, the people on our block or in our town or county. Other times it refers to the group of people who share deep feelings and values, such as a church group or a group of co-workers."

The challenge in thinking about community, according to Stratton, is bringing the two realities of community together. In materials prepared for the symposium, he asks, "How do we create a sense of community with the people who happen to be living in our town or our county? How do we create a sense of community among the people who happen to live near each other? Do we want to? Are we required to?"

"The community of people living around us is much more complex than we would like to admit. Some of our neighbors may have lost their jobs, or been evicted, but others are very comfortable with good jobs and a stable home life.  Some of the people in our community abuse their spouses or their children; others work as volunteers in hospitals. They may be the same people because each of us is more complex than the statistics that define us in a single way."
"Who Is My Neighbor?" will focus on the different traditions and viewpoints concerning the concept of neighbors and community within the Abrahamic faiths. Panelists will include Judaism, Islamic, Brethren and Catholic representatives. The primary focus of this discussion is to address the following questions: "How do we work together?" and "How do we challenge each other?"

Other events in the symposium have included programs on migrant and undocumented workers, and a program on the development of the Ashland Parks District, "Grassroots Democracy."

The Ashland Center for Nonviolence, located on the campus of Ashland University, is committed to exploring and promoting alternatives to violence in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.  The center is committed to finding choices when there seem to be none, as well as answering the seemingly unanswerable question, "What else can we do?"  For more information about this event, or to learn more about the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, please call 419-289-5313 or visit us online at www.ashland.edu/acn<http://www.ashland.edu/acn>.

Ashland University (www.ashland.edu<http://www.ashland.edu>) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.