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The University of Kentucky Interfaith Dialogue Organization (IDO) and Rumi Forum (Washington, D.C.), with the support of Student Government, Office of Institutional Diversity, Office of Student Affairs, Office of the Provost, Office of International Affairs and MLK Jr. Cultural Center, sponsored the 4th Annual Dialogue Dinner on Monday, November 9, 2009 in the Boone Center, underlining the importance of mutual understanding and Gulen Movement`s educational initiatives.

The University of Kentucky student organization, Interfaith Dialogue Organization (IDO) and Rumi Forum (Washington, DC) presented its fourth annual Dialogue Dinner recently at the University of Kentucky Boone Center.

“The purpose of the dinner is to bring community and university together to promote religious and cultural diversity,” said Mehmet Saracoglu, UK graduate student and president of IDO. In 2006, IDO was established at UK as a nonprofit student organization by students from different religions and cultures to promote dialogue, friendship, compassion, respect and love toward fellow human beings by sharing cultures and traditions of the world’s religions.

City and state government officials, administrators and faculty from UK and other local colleges and universities, and leaders of other community organizations came together at the dinner to underline the importance of this dialogue.

The program started with the Recognition Letters from KY Governor Steve Beshear and UK President Lee Todd and Proclamation from Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry as declaring November 9, 2009 as the “Interfaith Dialogue Day”.

Opening remarks were given by two KY State Representatives, Kelly Flood and David Floyd. In her speech Rep. Flood said: “We gather tonight to temper the judgment that human activity can divide and alienate us from one another, instead pay tribute to the truth that we greatly depend on the well being of one another, if we are to have a hope of being in peace.” Rep. Flood continued by saying that: “It is this dreams of peace and inclusion that I imagine inspires the young students among us who worked tirelessly to bring us all together tonight.Thank you for doing that.”

KY House Minority Whip, Rep. Floyd summarized his ideas with these words: “All mankind seeks the truth.  It’s our very nature. So a dialogue it shall be.  And mankind surely is better served by this and the world’s great religions are natural allies. The concept of an interfaith dialogue is beautiful inasmuch as the world’s great religions seek to reach out to everyone in their own way and in their own time.I`m honored to be invited here,I look forward to work with you.”

Keynote speech of the night was delivered by Jon Pahl from Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia, where he teaches the Christianity in North America and recently on the impact of educational initiatives around the world. In his speech: “Transforming Global Education: The Gulen Movement and Religious Peacebuilding”, he presented the Gulen Movement and the schools around the world inspired by his emphasis on education and the new generation. He gave examples from Uganda, Kenya, Turkey and the U.S. and pointed out their peaceful learning environment.

The closing remarks were given by the Lexington`s former police chief and the current assistant vice president for campus services at UK, Anthany Beatty. He said: “I understand the importance of having open-minded and culturally sensitive officers who are integrated into their communities. I think tonight is representative of such a setting. I am also pleased to see some of my close friends here encouraging and supporting this group of young people at UK who are contributing to community peace and justice.” He also mentioned the trip he took with his wife to visit Turkey this summer. He said: “We were very fortunate to spend more time with those who are inspired by the dialogue initiative.  Our fondest memories during the trip will forever be the children of the families that we visited.  Their curiosity and innocence left us feeling that through them the world will be a better place for all.  As MLK Jr. said “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” These children and our children give us infinite hope.”

He praised the dialogue activities by saying that:” We learned more about the Honorary President of Rumi Forum, a Turkish Muslim Scholar, Fethullah Gulen and his inspirational thoughts to express the importance of dialogue. The times we are in living in right now give us no excuses to ignore each other.  We truly live in a global world, and we live with the hope that we can bring out the best in all people when we listen to each other. Tonight is a great example of the most effective way to handle problems in this world; dialogue. And these initiatives are a great plus for our future.”

At the end of the program, a water marbling artist from Maryland, Ayse Gurses show beautiful examples of a traditional Turkish-Islamic art form, called “Ebru” in Turkish, to the audience. The guests were amazed by the combination of different colors and figures coming together to form a flower; as they did by participating to the dinner.

As it was mentioned at the dinner, Rumi said: “Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” IDO and Rumi Forum once again showed the importance of working together.

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