Monday, December 25, 2006

Middleton to celebrate community's religious diversity

Middleton to celebrate community's religious diversity
By Teresa Peneguy Paprock
Niche editor, Capital Newspapers
Around Town - Middleton, November 22, 2006

One of the joys of living in a diverse community like Middleton is getting
to know your neighbors, whether they're Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Moslem.
In an effort to promote peace and goodwill between those of different
religious faiths, Middleton will celebrate the state's Ninth Annual
Interfaith Awareness Week in December. Kurt Sonnentag, of the Middleton City
Council, will read an official proclamation at 2 p.m.Sunday, Dec. 10 in the
Archer Room at the Middleton Public Library.

Middleton's the location for the keynote program of the weeklong event.
Representatives of Middleton's Christian, Sikh, Baha'i, and Sufi
communities, and more, will be on hand during Sunday's event, which will
feature displays, discussion, presentations, singing and dance.

Coordinator Rev. John-Brian Paprock, a Middleton resident and priest at Holy
Transfiguration Orthodox Church, says Dec.10 is also Human Rights Day.

"The idea of Interfaith Awareness Week is to demonstrate that we can get
along with people that don't believe what we do," says Paprock, who has been
involved in interfaith activities in the area for more than a decade."The
activities are to help us become aware of what others believe so we don't
mistake what others do out of ignorance or prejudice."

Paprock says that some people are uncomfortable with interfaith expression
"because they think they will lose their faith. But what actually happens
when we learn about other faiths is that our own faith is confirmed."

Paprock points out that in Middleton,"There are a wide variety of
Christians, as well as people who are Jewish, Baha'i and Hindu. We even have
a Sikh Gurdwara here. Middleton has a very diverse population. Sauk Trail
Elementary School is one of the most ethnically diverse schools in the area,
and when you attend their cultural events you meet people of a variety of
religious beliefs."

The focus of the Sunday event is "What it is to be a 'good neighbor' -
especially appropriate in the Good Neighbor City,"he says."Interfaith
activities fill in a gap. Ethnic, language and spiritual identities manifest
themselves in the subcultures of society, including here in Middleton."

We used to think of the United States as "a melting pot, where people's
cultures combined and became the same,"says Paprock."But more and more, we
are acknowledging the uniqueness of individuals. Our differences are as
important as our similarities."

Events honoring different faith traditions are being held throughout the
Madison area during the week, with a special observance to be held at noon
on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the Wisconsin Capitol building.

For more information on Interfaith Awareness Week, or to participate in
activities, call 236-9622.

Middleton Proclamation (Draft - confirmed at Middleton City Council on
December 5, 2006)
WHEREAS, Wisconsin has a long history of celebrating the diversity of
belief; and
WHEREAS, Wisconsin has been a leader in human rights throughout 159 years of
statehood; and
WHEREAS, the City of Middleton has been the "Good Neighbor"leader in the
state throughout the 150 years of its history; and
WHEREAS, December 10,2006 is Human Rights Day designated by the United
Nations and the 59thanniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, which states in Article 18 that "Everyone has the right to freedom
of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change
his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with
others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
teaching, practice, worship and observance;"and
WHEREAS, the State has developed great spiritual and religious diversity and
diverse beliefs have played an important role in the development of our
State; and
WHEREAS, the celebration of diversity diminishes no one, but enriches
everyone; and
WHEREAS, we affirm the right of every person to believe and act according to
their beliefs as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others; and

WHEREAS, interfaith and multifaith efforts of different churches and faith
groups have a rich history in the city; and
WHEREAS, interfaith and multifaith coalitions, dialogues and activities
continue to grow in importance locally, regionally, nationally and
internationally; and
WHEREAS, Madison, the Capitol of the State of Wisconsin, is located on an
isthmus, which is considered a place of peace and reconciliation; and
WHEREAS, December 2006 holds holy days of many religious and faith groups;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Doug Zwank, Mayor of Middleton, do hereby proclaim
December 10-16,2006 as INTERFAITH AWARENESS WEEK in the City of Middleton
and encourage citizens to learn more about each others' beliefs in the
spirit of community.


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