Interfaith Week Kicks Off

Interfaith Week kicks off with forgiveness workshop

Published: Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010 1:04 a.m. MST by Emily James | Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — An intimate group of women gathered Saturday to discuss forgiveness, and all the aspects involved, at a workshop that began the annual Interfaith Week in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, an organization formed in 1999 to prepare to welcome the world to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Olympics, sponsors Interfaith Week.

The Saturday workshop — “Forgiving One Another as the Path to Peace” — was held at the Episcopal Diocese of Utah and was led by Carla Kelley, founder of the Human Rights Education Center of Utah. Kelley regularly teaches workshops on subjects such as diversity, cultural competency and bullying prevention education in the area.

The forgiveness workshop was important to Kelley on a professional level, as well as a personal level, she said.

“I realized forgiveness has made a huge difference in my own life,” Kelley said. “I believe that forgiveness is a seed, a seed to common humanity. The world is in great need of forgiveness, of learning forgiveness and of practicing forgiveness.”

Kelley began seriously studying the process of forgiveness four years ago. She led the group, seated comfortably in a circle, some on orange and purple beanbag chairs, in discussions about the importance of forgiveness, the power behind it and making restitution. The group discussed how forgiveness plays a role in different religions and settings.

Those in attendance read a summary of “The Sunflower” by Simon Wiesenthal, a survivor of the concentration camps who was asked forgiveness by a dying Nazi soldier. Each person in the group took turns putting themselves in Wiesenthal’s shoes, sharing different responses to what she would have done regarding the forgiveness requested.

Karla Reading, a close friend of Kelley’s, assisted in leading the workshop.

“What a difficult, intricate process forgiveness is,” Reading said. “There’s no agreement on what it is.”

Reading said she hoped the workshop would encourage people to more openly teach younger members of society the importance of forgiveness.

“Our youth are learning retaliation, not reconciliation,” Reading said. “That needs to change.”

Daily events that are part of the Interfaith Week, including lectures, ceremonies and a cooking demonstration, will be held at different locations around Salt Lake City over the upcoming week.

Interfaith Week will close with a musical tribute on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Tabernacle on Temple Square. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature myriad musical performers and dancers from many different faiths.

Tickets for the musical tribute and more information about events happening during Interfaith Week can be found at interfaithroundtable.org.

e-mail: ejames@desnews.com