After September 11, the racial and ethnic hostilities and attacks on people of other faiths and ethnic backgrounds highlighted the critical need to foster dialogue and understanding. In response to this need, UMCOR established the "Honoring Differences in the Midst of Hate and Violence" Grant Program. Annual Conferences, local churches, or community groups may apply for grants to implement projects that promote dialogue, understanding, peace-building, and the establishment of an inclusive community. Below are two examples of projects that have received grants through this program:
1. The Central Texas Annual Conference is working to:
2. The Dialogue Project in Brooklyn, NY is getting national attention for its rapidly growing project that brings together Jews, Palestinians, Arab and Muslim Americans, and Supportive Others for dialogue. This project began more than a year before September 11, and since then, has been besieged with calls from people throughout the New York metropolitan area asking for help in creating dialogue groups and alleviating the tensions developing between people of different backgrounds.
Participants gather monthly for conversation and learn about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from each other's perspective. Each gathering is led by a facilitator trained in mediation, transformative dialogue techniques, or group dynamics. Neighbors who had grown silent around these issues as the conflict intensified, are now listening to each other's stories and learning from each other.
The participants have learned that true dialogue and listening to each other are skills that take time to cultivate, but their perspectives are changing, and they are learning to trust each other. By creating a more cohesive community, participants will be able to act as bridges among other Jews/Israelis, Palestinians and Arab or Muslim Americans both here in the U.S. and in their home countries of Israel and Palestine. Participants believe that the existence of dialogue circles, committed to building relationships, will have an impact on how people and policy makers perceive the conflict in the Middle East. Dialogue will ultimately influence legislation and peace initiatives.
For further information on the "Honoring Differences" grant program, resources, and grant applications, contact Marjorie L. Rudolph, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call UMCOR at (202) 548-2002.
Photo Credit: copyright © Diana Barnett, September 2001, Used by permission. The picture(s) on this page was taken in Manhattan within a week after the collapse of the World Trade Center. Click on the photo to see a larger version.