As of 2020, this organization is no longer active
Address: 17 Pleasant Avenue, Portland, ME 04103
Mission: Interfaith Maine seeks peace and justice through deepening interfaith understanding and relationships.
As presented on their website, their goals are the following:
• To find ways to remove suspicion, fear, resentment of the other
• To fully respect others’ freedom and dignity
• To give and to receive truth and convictions
• To celebrate common traditions and values
• To engage in social action
• To recognize the gifts and the blessings of each other
• To be open to growth and understanding
• To engage in public activities to heal historic and present-day wounds
• To promote the path of pluralism through public educational efforts
History: Interfaith Maine became an official non-profit organization in 2003. The organization grew out of the Portland Interfaith Seminar, which was a collaborative between Bangor Theological Seminary, St. Joseph’s College and the University of Southern Maine. The Portland Interfaith Seminar began multiple faith conversations in 2001 in the Portland area, primarily among Christians, Jews and Muslims. After September 11, the group began to see the great need for dialogue, for protection of the Muslim community in Maine, and for fostering of deeper relationships.
The Portland Interfaith Seminar began plans for a day-long community-wide conference set for March 2002. The symposium was titled, “The Children of Abraham Downeast: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Search for a New Religious Pluralism.” The day featured a keynote speech by Diana Eck that addressed the new religious pluralism in the United States. The keynote was followed by workshops on topics such as the Future of Religious Pluralism facilitated by a student panel; Monotheistic Religions in America; Contemplating Democracy; and Gender and Religion. The day ended with participants sharing a simple meal together.
While the March 2002 symposium focused on Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the symposium gathered interest from other religious communities throughout Maine that also wanted to be involved in the budding interfaith conversation. Namely, Pagans, Buddhists, Baha’is, and Interfaith ministers started attending meetings and participating in events.
The group of organizers decided that the growing interest meant that the Portland Interfaith Seminar should evolve into something larger than a Portland based group that focused on a three faith model. At the same time, there were a number of people who felt that the discussions between Christianity, Judaism and Islam should continue in order to help to heal historical wounds. Thus, two tracks have emerged. The Academic Council for Post-Holocaust Christian, Jewish and Islamic Studies through the University of Southern Maine offers academic classes on the relationships of these religious traditions as well as holds important trialogues to deepen understanding. The second track, Interfaith Maine, welcomes people from all religious and spiritual traditions throughout the state of Maine to gather and get to know more about one another.
For the past two years, Interfaith Maine has held monthly lunch-time gatherings that center around a particular topic, whether it be learning more about a specific religious tradition or having interfaith conversations on issues such a prayer, the Divine, rites of passage, and religious obligation. This past academic year, the programs have been co-sponsored by the Office of the Interfaith Chaplain at the University of Southern Maine. These gatherings provide a way of beginning to build community among people of various religious traditions.
Demographics: So far, Interfaith Maine has participation from Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Interfaith Ministers, Jews, Muslims and Pagans.