Seeking Peace Through Dialogue in Wake of 9/11

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Where were you when 9/11 happened? What have we learned since those acts of terrorism destroyed lives and changed lives all over the world? How can we best honor those who perished while taking specific steps forward towards peace, forgiveness and reconciliation?

Also: Lynn Selich remembers 9/11.

According to Newport resident Bob Ochsner, a positive and productive way to observe the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is to attend Lumen, a community-wide event at the Mariner’s Church Community Center on Sunday, designed for people of all faiths to come together and build bridges of peace across ethnic, cultural and religious differences.

NYFD 9/11 responder Kevin James, a Muslim, will be among the speakers exploring strategies for dialogue and peace at the Lumen conference on Sunday.

“This is an opportunity for Orange County residents to see how others have responded positively since 9/11,” explained Ochsner, a volunteer on the Lumen team. “Let’s find constructive ways to build relationships within our community, regardless of religious belief, church affiliation or cultural background. We can learn how others have channeled their many different emotions into peace and healing. We can fall into the trap of reacting with fear-based responses, or be proactive in replacing the culture of fear and suspicion with a new culture of trust and respect, especially in our own backyard.”

“There will be voices from different faiths and different viewpoints all impacted by 9/11 and all who want to pursue peace and reconciliation,” he added. “We’re commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with candid discussions among leading national and local experts on interfaith peacemaking from both the Muslim and Christian faiths. It will also be a time of remembrance and honoring.”

Lumen is a semiannual gathering that brings together cultural thinkers, leading authors, artists and visionaries to learn from one another through creative interactions. Kyle Zimmerman, Mariners Worship Pastor and leader of the Lumen team, explained that the concept for Lumen came out of an ongoing conversation a handful of friends cultivated over the last five years. The specific title for Sunday’s conversation is “Lumen 9.11: Then, Now, Next –What Does Peacemaking Look Like in a Post-9/11 Culture?” The creative combination of speakers, Q&As, and roundtable discussions will provide the opportunity to share openly with others without compromising one’s own faith.

“Lumen is about bringing tough issues and important questions to light,” Zimmerman said. “It’s about tackling issues that churches don’t often address and learning to be agents of change and grace. We thought 9/11 was the perfect time for us to find tangible, practical ways to be ministers of reconciliation. To love our neighbors means we need to understand them and to understand them means we need to know who they are. We’re called to love and be in relationship with others, and while not everybody agrees with everybody, let’s connect and have important conversations.”

“We have incredible presenters, and we’ve asked them to give us their best thoughts and ideas to challenge our thinking in less than18 minutes each,” he added. “We leave space for Q&A to dialogue with each other, because we know that the participants have great thoughts and ideas that we can learn from.”

The line-up of presenters includes:

• Kevin James: a former NYFD supervising Fire Marshal, who is Muslim, will share his experience as a 9/11 first responder. He is a recipient of the 2001 Islamic Community Award by the Council on American Islamic Relations and was profiled in the 2002 PBS documentary “Mohammed: Legacy of a Prophet.”

• Salam Al-Marayati: President and one of the founders of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a public service agency committed to strengthening relationships between American Muslims and their representatives, and promoting a vibrant American Muslim community.

• Carl Medearis: An internationally recognized author, speaker and scholar in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations.

• Michael Ly: Co-founder and Northwest region director of Peace Catalyst and a pastor with Soma Communities, a fellowship of Jesus followers committed to serving the Muslim communities of greater Seattle. Born into a Chinese-Cambodian refugee home after his parents escaped the Khmer Rouge regime, Ly grew up against the backdrop of both Christian and Ancestral-Buddhist beliefs.

• Jim Mullins: Co-founder and vice president of Peace Catalyst International, an organization dedicated to promoting peacemaking initiatives with a special focus on Muslim-Christian relations, and co-founder of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers.

• Mike Foster: Director of People of the Second Chance, a nonprofit organization providing innovative strategies on dealing with failure and crisis, and author of “Gracenomics: Unleash the Power of Second Chance Living.”

• Mike Erre: Teaching pastor at Mariners Church Mission Viejo and formerly head teaching pastor at Rock Harbor Church.

“My heart’s desire for this ongoing conversation is transformation,” Zimmerman said. “Everyone can benefit from it and I hope everybody leaves changed, with a heart for loving their neighbor in new ways.”

The program will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, but pre-registration helps with preparation. For information, and to register, visit

Cindy can be reached at [email protected].



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