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OKC's Institute of Interfaith Dialog hosts successful friendship dinner

The Institute of Interfaith Dialog held their 7th Annual 'Dialog and Friendship' dinner on Nov. 24
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From staff reports

Posted: December 1, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Institute of Interfaith Dialog was proud to present its Seventh annual sponsored a "Dialog and Friendship" dinner in the music hall at Oklahoma City University on Nov. 24.

The event was co-sponsored with the Oklahoma City University. The theme of this year’s program was "Celebrating Democracy as a Key to Living Together." The event was very timely as the spirit of friendship and dialog reaches at its peak during the time of Thanksgiving. The crowd was very eclectic and diverse. There were 60 elected officials from local, state, and federal levels and people from liberal activists to conservatives, to faith leaders. Also in attendance were Attorney General Drew Edmondson, State Treasurer Scott Meacham, former mayor Ron Norick, multiple senators and representatives, three university presidents, and many academic, faith, business, andcommunity leaders. 

Secretary of State Susan Savage was the emcee of the program. She told that it was her privilege to lead such an insightful and inspirational program.

The program started with the welcome speech of President Tom McDaniel of the Oklahoma City University. President McDaniel had purposefully and with great success opened the doors of the Uinversity to those who present ideas, knowledge and a world view which often challenges the status quo.

Next, Dr. Bilal Erturk who is a faculty member at the Spears School of Business, OSU with a PHD in Finance from Texas A&M welcomed the audience on behalf of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog.  Dr. Erturk highlighted the fact that as the world becomes a global small village, it is unavoidable to have interfaith and intercultural interacts and dialog among citizens of the World. He suggested that faith based communities and educators should be leaders in initiating these kinds of dialog events.

The keynote speaker of the unique program was the Honorable Robert Henry Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Judge Henry serves a Chief of Judge at the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

He was nominated by William J. Clinton on February 9, 1994, to a seat vacated by William Judson Holloway, Jr. Judge Henry eloquently put in words the need of interfaith dialog. He told the audience the story of a Rabbi and his people who were about to be expelled out of their city because of a Roman Emporer. Although they didn’t speak the same language, the Rabbi, witty and cunning person, managed to persuade the Emperor to stay. Judge Henry stressed that that of the people's wisdom, not their will, being the essence of the law. He spoke on democracy and the importance of a society of laws and values, not just majority rule. 

During the program community members whose service has added to the public discourse to strengthen dialogue were also recognized with awards.

The Institute’s Management Award, was presented by Oklahoma’s Attorney General Drew Edmondson.  General Edmondson’s service to Oklahoma began in the Oklahoma Legislature and has included three consecutive terms as Muskogee County District Attorney.  He has served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General since 1994 receiving national recognition for his consumer protection and victims’ advocacy work.  General Edmondson has led the National Assoc of Attorneys General and has repeatedly stepped forward to tackle tough issues on behalf of Oklahomans.  Please welcome our Attorney General Drew Edmondson. The award went to Treasurer Scott Meacham who has done an incredible job by overcoming the economic crisis that the State faced.

The Outstanding Educator Award was presented by Dr. Houston Davis, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.  Dr. Davis is well versed and highly experienced in analyzing the role of education in the economy and resulting public policy issues. The award went to President Haysbert, who is the first African-American Woman president of a Higher Education Institute in Oklahoma.

Representative Randy McDaniel was asked to present the Leadership Award. Representative Randy McDaniel represents District 83 in northern Oklahoma County has used his leadership position to advocate for education and healthcare.  His financial knowledge and training provide him with exceptional skills to analyze many of the complicated budget issues facing our state.  Representative McDaniel presented the Leadership Award to his father President McDaniel. President McDaniel received the award because of the positive change in the body of the University during his leadership.

The Institute of Interfaith Dialogue has created opportunities for many state and local leaders to have the experience of traveling to Turkey.  At the program two members of the Oklahoma legislature shared with the guests a few moments about their own experiences and their personal views of democracy.   Representative Tad Jones, House Majority Floor Leader and State Senator Constace Jonhson expressed their gratitude for a life changing experience. They said they had a chance to grasp at the first hand the importance of the Gulen movement as a force of inclusion and dialogue.

As Secretary of State Susan Savage closed the program, she thanked to the Institute of Interfaith Dialog and stated that the event was an evening of friendship and dialogue because of the good work of the Institute. The guests heard through dialogue people strengthen democracy.  They heard through inclusion of different ideas and perspectives, people solidify a common purpose, build partnerships and create the foundation for tackling the tough challenges of our communities and state. 

Dr. Curtis Nigh, Minister, Church of the Servant to give the Benediction closed the evening.

Ergin Bostanci, a math teacher at Dove Science Academy's elementary school in Oklahoma City, is Turkish and enjoyed the evening thoroughly.

"It was a very good chance for me to meet people from different positions and it helped me to have contact information from different people," Bostanci said. 

The Institute of Interfaith Dialogue is founded by Turkish-Americans in 2000 in Houston, Texas. It is committed to the principles of discussion, the productive exchange of ideas and the celebration of the richness of the cultures, ethnicities, religions and races which exist in our community. The Institute serves as a forum through which the ever present issues of human relations can be thoughtfully examined to further solutions to the complex and complicated issues of our time.  Rather than contributing to divides along ideological lines, the Institute promotes the exchange of information, collaboration among diverse people, and direct communication which improves the connections among us all.  Inspired by the writer, philosopher and scholar, Fethullah Gulen, the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue has embraced tolerance and dialogue through a movement of shared values that reaches internationally.  The Gulen Movement has become a “search for a culture of reconciliation on a world scale,” and has inspired a body of intellectual analysis through which its principles are examined and discussed.  Fethullah Gulen was recently named by Georgetown University first among the most influential Muslims in the world.   

Copyright 2009 West Marie Media

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