These Stories Needed to Be Told

A Muslim storyteller who lifts up COVID-19 struck communities through spoken word art, an interfaith group that provides direct relief through matchmaking, and leaders of different faith groups coming together to make sure no one in their neighborhood goes hungry during lockdown -- these are just some of the uplifting stories of human resilience that are featured in Crisis and Compassion, a video series produced by Kendal Mobley, Associate Professor of Religion and Coordinator of Spiritual Life at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), for Bridge Builders Charlotte.  

Led by Queens University’s Belk Chapel and Interfaith Youth Core, and funded by the Gambrell Foundation, Bridge Builders Charlotte promotes interfaith education, cooperation, and community service through a network of seven college and university campuses and more than 20 faith communities and nonprofits across the Charlotte region. Highlighting the role of faith and community in providing relief to communities during the pandemic, the project documents how diverse religious communities in the Charlotte area are responding to the pandemic by working with local service providers, local government, and other faith communities. 

“I had no idea how to make a documentary,” says Mobley, “but I’ve never been afraid to try something new, and these stories needed to be told.” 

The series was produced with a team including LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Executive Director of Mecklenburg Metropolitan Interfaith Network (MeckMIN), and JCSU students Exodus Moon and Iyanla Parsanlal, who interviewed more than 40 people. Four episodes of 18 to 20 minutes have been released, with at least two more in the pipeline, and is intended for other faculty members to use it in their classroom to initiate conversations on religious diversity.  

“Leading the “Crisis and Compassion” project has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my academic career,” Mobley adds. “I’ve been honored to bear witness to the courage and devotion of people and organizations from diverse religious perspectives and to offer them the chance to tell their own stories. In a very dark time, they offer an example that is enlightening, empowering, and hopeful. They show us the virtues and values that will carry us through this crisis: compassion, respect for human dignity, sacrificial love, humility, unity, and cooperation.” 

Below is a list of the episodes that are available and can be watched on YouTube:  

Episode 1, “Making a Shidduch,” highlights the key role of MeckMIN in swiftly bringing diverse faith communities and nonprofits together to meet needs and adapt to the new realities of the pandemic. 

In Episode 2, “The Muslim in the Room: A Conversation with Hannah Hasan,” LeDayne McLeese Polaski talks with storyteller and spoken word artist Hannah Hasan about how prayer and faith guided through the unexpected changes in her career caused by the pandemic, how the pandemic opened her eyes to a fear she needed to confront, and how it feels to be “the Muslim in the room.” 

In Episode 3, “Doing the Work,” leaders of Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, and Unitarian Universalist communities share the values that guide them and describe how their organizations have responded to the pandemic. 

Episode 4, “That They All May Be One,” documents how the Chapel of Christ the King Episcopal Church is transforming the church’s underutilized property into an edible landscape that will address food insecurity and provide an outdoor space where longtime residents and new arrivals can come together in Charlotte’s Optimist Park neighborhood. The episode also explores the church’s role in organizing an emergency property tax relief fund to help longtime residents hold on to their homes as the neighborhood experiences rapid gentrification. 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. echoed Theodore Parker, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ Let’s bend it together.
In both my work as an interfaith leader and a dancer, rethinking is all about opening our minds, asking questions, and having conversations.
Some U.S. churches have been reckoning with this activity for years through ceremonies, apologies and archival investigations, while others are just getting started.
A global study of the communication patterns of 1.3 million workers during the global lockdown showed the average workday increased by 8.2% during the pandemic, and the average number of virtual meetings per person expanded by almost 13%.
Across Missouri, hundreds of pastors, priests and other church leaders are reaching out to urge vaccinations in a state under siege from the delta variant. Health experts say the spread is due largely to low vaccination rates — Missouri lags about 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who have initiated shots.
The solution, said Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, is “the loving care of a family, not another orphanage.” He pointed to Scripture passages that say God sets the lonely in families and call on Christians to care for those who have been orphaned.
The following interview features Debra Fraser-Howze, founder and president of Choose Healthy Life, an initiative that fortifies community infrastructure to better address the pandemic in Black communities. The interview was conducted by Shauna Morin for IFYC; it has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The seven monks have been clearing brush from around the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and running a sprinkler system dubbed “Dharma rain,” which helps keep a layer of moister around the buildings.
Over 800 Muslim Americans are expected to attend the family-focused event at the Green Meadows Petting Farm in Ijamsville, Maryland, making it one of the larger such gatherings around the country in the era of COVID-19.
Besides demanding equitable distribution of vaccines, the Interfaith Vigil for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Access called on the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property rights for vaccine manufacturing in order to enable more countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines domestically.
Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” is typically marked by communal prayers, large social gatherings, slaughtering of livestock and giving meat to the needy.
Our Lady of La Vang is said to have appeared in a remote rainforest in the late 1700s to a group of Catholics fleeing persecution in Vietnam.
This article is part of a series called Faith in the Field that explores responses to Covid-19—including vaccination efforts—within different faith communities. 
Yet the debate about the vaccine in Tennessee is not solely a debate about science. Rather, I believe the vaccine debate is also a referendum on our public capacity to embrace vulnerability.
The study found that while there are many promising signs that students perceive support for their RSSIs on campus, there is also considerable room for improving welcome, particularly for students whose RSSIs are a minority.
Coronavirus deaths among clergy are not just a Catholic problem, said Andrew Chesnut, chair of Catholic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, with faith leaders across denominations having elevated exposure rates as “spiritual front-line workers” ministering to the sick and dying in hospitals and nursing homes.
Legislation legalizing human composting has encountered religious resistance from the Catholic Church.
From the 26th of November, 2020, a farmers protest has been in existence on the outskirts of Delhi, India’s capital city. For the past eight months, farmers in the tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, have been fighting three laws that threaten the future of agriculture in the country.
Sivan and I feel that it is crucial to work for increased vaccination rates, particularly with more transmissible and potentially more deadly variants emerging across the country and throughout the world.
We made calls to friends, disseminated flyers, engaged in social media marketing, partnered with faith-based communities, and engaged the local health department to encourage members of our community to come to our upcoming clinic and get vaccinated.
"It’s not about accepting other’s beliefs and pushing your own away - it is about being respectful, while still having the freedom to express your beliefs"

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.