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(History) The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion traces its beginnings to 1939, when Rabbi Leo Franklin and Rev. Harry Hitt Crane returned from attending an NCCJ conference in New York and established the Detroit chapter in 1941. Over the years, interfaith engagement has been at the core of the NCCJ/Greater Detroit Interfaith Roundtable/Michigan Roundtable as faith leaders assumed leadership roles in the organization. Our success as an organization is due in part to the myriad of relationships we have established with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is, Buddhists, Native Americans and others.
Over the years, the interfaith activity of the Roundtable focused in a variety of ways. From 1980 to the mid 1990’s we developed the lay, clergy and scholar trialogs and the grand interfaith symposium, a period that saw a growth in interfaith participation and leadership development. In the mid 90’s we moved toward engaging more participants and congregations. The interfaith work changed with the events of September 11, 2001 with the beginnings of what would become known as Interfaith Partners. In 2002 the Roundtable began receiving funding for this work from the Andrus Family Fund.
With the 2006 effort to ban affirmative action in Michigan, the interfaith efforts of the Roundtable shifted in part to a racial justice orientation, which the Andrus Family Fund supported. The Bridging the Congregational Divide committee helped lead the Roundtable to the current Housing Project Partnership (Mock Trial/Truth Commission), which is a three-phase effort to advance regional racial equity.
- Interfaith Committee of the Roundtable Board of Directors comprised of faith leaders, representing the rich range of traditions in Michigan.
- Inclusion work in Plymouth Canton has members of the various places of worship integrally involved in all aspects of the work being done as this effort came out of interfaith organizing in 2008.
- Inclusion work in St. Clair Shores has benefited in its early stages from moral leadership of a number of congregations and will depend upon the faith community becoming a stronger and more united voice for racial justice.
- Inclusion work in SW Detroit has benefited from our connections in the faith community. The Yemeni mosque is a huge gatekeeper to this community and is now beginning to engage in favor of inclusion.
Grant from the Arcus Foundation to improve attitudes toward and inclusion of members of the LGBT community in our faith community is being built on a solid foundation of representatives from area congregations.
- Housing Project Partnership traces its beginning to the Bridging the Racial Divide group and will count on the support of the faith community as we advance the Truth Commission.
- Our work in Grand Rapids, Flint and Mt. Pleasant has engaged faith community and will continue to do so.
In summary, the Roundtable’s history of interfaith work continues today as it has for the past 69 years. We remain committed to interfaith work, which lies at the heart of what we do.