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‘Beyond a Climate of Fear’ is theme for Jan. 22 conference

Faith community will explore issues and ways to empower common action

Jim Mohr, chair of the Institute for Hate Studies at Gonzaga University, will be the keynote speaker for the Eastern Washington Legislative Conference, addressing the 2010 theme, “Beyond a Climate of Fear: Empowering the Community of Faith to Action.”

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Cathedral of St. John, 127 E. 12th in Spokane.

Jim is director of student achievement, student activities and diversity programs at the Community Colleges of Spokane. 

He completed his doctoral degree in leadership studies at Gonzaga University and served as interim director of the Institute for Hate Studies, which recently changed its name from the Institute for Action Against Hate, to reflect its commitment to establish and expand the academic field of hate studies.

The institute was established to combat hate and hate crimes through fostering understandings of the causes and effects of hate, and strategies to combat hate, bigotry and intolerance.

A highlight of the conference is the recognition of the Rev. Happy Watkins, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church and community leader, by the Washington Association of Churches (WAC).  The WAC will present him their annual Eastern Washington award for ecumenical and interfaith justice leadership during the event.
Sponsored by the Lutheran Public Policy Office (LPPO), the WAC, Catholic Charities Spokane and The Fig Tree, the event will address the current political climate that promotes fear—dividing people and increasing citizen apathy.

There will be two sessions of workshops with panels addressing current immigration, poverty, and police/civil rights issues.

Workshops and leaders will include;

“Beyond Fear of the Stranger:  Immigration, Refugees and Trafficking,” with Greg Cunningham, Catholic Charities’ Refugee and Immigration Services director; Azra Grudig of Lutheran Community Services Northwest, and Mark Kadel, director of World Relief;

“Beyond Economic Fears: Budget Shortfalls and Tax Cuts, Widened Disparities between Rich and Poor,” with Erica Scott, community organizer with VOICES (Voices for Opportunity, Income, Childcare, Education and Support), Nadine Van Stone, director of St. Margaret’s Shelter, and Shar Lichty, outreach coordinator of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.

“Beyond Fear for Personal Safety:  Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Police and Jails” with Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich; Liz Moore, director of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, and ecumenical and human rights leaders Happy Watkins and Yvonne Lopez-Morton.

The Rev. Paul Benz, director of the LPPO, will review issues before the state’s legislative session.  Alice Woldt, director of the WAC, will discuss “Messaging Faith Communities and Our Culture.”

They will present an “Action Toolkit” with resources to engage congregations members in education and advocacy.

Area religious leaders, coordinated by the Rev. Nick Block of the Spokane Friends Church, will lead opening and closing worship times using resources from the 2011 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity resources, with a focus on peace, justice and reconciliation.  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is Jan. 18 to 25.

Area congregations, parishes, ministries and nonprofits are encouraged to send participants and bring displays for a resource fair.

For information, call 535-4112.


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