Dinner Honors Hartford Seminary, Heidi Hadsell For Commitment to Interreligious Understanding

Update: Photos from the dinner

Bill Cronin, Chair of the Board of Trustees, receives the Hartford Seminary award from Anne Alleva

Heidi Hadsell, President of Hartford Seminary, receives her award from Jim Friedman.

HARTFORD, CT (March 12, 2012) ? Hartford Seminary and Heidi Hadsell, President of the Seminary, have been named the first recipients of the Rev. Dr. Richard B. Griffis Award, presented by the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding, for their deep commitment and ongoing contributions to interreligious understanding.

The Seminary and Dr. Hadsell will be recognized at an Award Dinner on Thursday, May 10, at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

?Speaking for Hartford Seminary and for myself, we are honored that CCIU is recognizing us for our commitment to interfaith relations and understanding. It is vitally important to prepare religious leaders to lead their faith communities in our plural society. Hartford Seminary is a key player in this effort, through our various interfaith programs and courses,? Hadsell said.

?At Hartford Seminary, students benefit from a lived experience of what is learned in the classroom. We offer unique programs within an interfaith setting, focusing on deepening knowledge of one?s own tradition balanced with developing skills in interfaith dialogue in a real-world setting,? Hadsell said.

Since its inception in 1994, CCIU has been workingto promote public awareness, understanding about, and respect for Connecticut’s religious pluralism through an array of programs and initiatives.

CCIU’s principal focus is on educating adults and children about the world’s religions, the values they share in common, and their differences, and how they have contributed to our respective world views and identities.

?CCIU believes it is critical that we engage with open minds and hearts in the process of learning about others’ religions so that we can advance respect, understanding, compassion, and inter-group peace. We believe that ignorance leads to stereotyping which is destructive to and inconsistent with these values,? James Friedman, a Board member, said.

CCIU’s Board of Directorsand Membership include representatives from Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Unitarian Universalism.

Richard Griffis, who died in December, was the founder of CCIU. He was a minister in the United Church of Christ for 51 years. He was Senior Minister at Immanuel Congregational, UCC, in Hartford for 13 years.

During his time in Connecticut, Griffis also served as interim minister at Round Hill Community Church in Greenwich and the Congregational Church of Union, and was on the staff of the Connecticut Conference of the UCC and the Capitol Region Conference of Churches.

He was active in the United Nations Association in Connecticut and Washington, D.C., and lived and worked inNigeria and South India.

Friends remember that, at his core, and in all of the work he did throughout his life, there was a quiet determination to create a more just and peaceful world.

Speakers at the Award Dinner will be:

  • The Rev. Dr. Stephen Sidorak, General Secretary to the Board of Directors of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns of The United Methodist Church. Sidorak was a co-founder and early chair of CCIU, andlong-timeExecutive Director of the Christian Conference of Connecticut.
  • Ethan Felson, Vice President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Felson was a co-founder of CCIU, and for many years Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.
  • Jane Smith Ph.D., Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, Harvard Divinity School. Smith is a former Chair of CCIU, and is Professor Emeritus at Hartford Seminary, where she was Co-Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.

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