Interfaith Vigil to Reduce Poverty 2017

Thank you to all who came out and supported the Interfaith Vigil to Reduce Poverty, held January 4, 2017, at the State House Rotunda. Special thanks to Emily Jones and the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty for her leadership role.  There are a number of reports, links, videos, pictures and text below that well capture the spirit and ONE VOICE of the gathering.


View a 50 minute video of the entire event HERE

Channel 12’s (WPRI Fox Providence) reporter Steph Machado gave this report.

Providence Journal article reporting on the event, by reporter Jennifer Bogden, can be viewed HERE.

emily-jonesKeynote Speaker Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, Temple Sinai, Cranston, delivered an impassioned address titled “We Can Be the Storm“.  You can read the text of that address HERE









CONTACT:  Patti Doyle, 401-374-2553;

station-fire-memorial-newWARWICK, RHODE ISLAND, OCTOBER 17, 2016:  The Station Fire Memorial Park Campaign has achieved its ambitious goal of raising two million dollars and has now set its sights on a Spring dedication ceremony to unveil a meaningful Memorial Park dedicated to the 100 souls who lost their lives on February 20, 2003 at the Station Nightclub tragedy.

According to Former Governor Donald Carcieri, governor at the time of the fire and co-chairman of the Station Fire Memorial Park Leadership Committee, the fundraising goal was achieved from both corporate and personal contributions. “We are very grateful to Rhode Island businesses – large and small – who stepped up and contributed in meaningful ways to this Memorial Park,” noted Governor Carcieri.  “We are also extremely grateful for the thousands of Rhode Islanders who in some way were touched by this tragedy and responded so generously.”

The Leadership Committee also announced that while it had hoped to hold a dedication ceremony this month, construction delays have necessitated postponement of the opening until the Spring. “It’s important that the park be fully complete to respect the memory of those who died there. The full effect of this unique sanctuary will best be realized when both building and landscaping are complete.”

The Memorial Park will include individual granite monuments with each victim’s name and date of birth, a gathering courtyard, memorial steps that are each dedicated to a unique group that played an important role in the tragedy, and a commemorative walkway, all surrounded by twelve memorial gardens and stone walls.  It is being built by Gilbane Building Company, who Governor Carcieri credited for supervising both in-kind and paid contractors involved in the construction of Memorial Park.

The Governor concluded, “I can’t underscore enough the collaborative nature of this undertaking which starts with Gina Russo, a survivor and co-chair of this project who has poured her heart and soul into every aspect of the Memorial. She has been supported by a volunteer board of directors and a Campaign Leadership and Honorary Leadership Committee that includes business leaders, interfaith clergy and union officials from our state, working side-by-side with survivors and victim’s family members to deliver a fitting tribute to the 100 souls who lost their lives that tragic day.”

The Station Fire Memorial Foundation is an all-volunteer, 501C3 charitable organization.

President Obama to Continue Global Leadership in Combatting Climate Change and Protecting Our Ocean by Creating the First Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean.


white-houseFACT SHEET: President Obama to Continue Global Leadership in Combatting Climate Change and Protecting Our Ocean by Creating the First Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

blessing of the watersToday, President Obama will designate the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, protecting fragile deep-sea ecosystems off the coast of New England as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The new national monument – which encompasses pristine underwater mountains and canyons – will provide critical protections for important ecological resources and marine species, including deep-sea coral and endangered whales and sea turtles.

President Obama will make this announcement in remarks today at the 3rd annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington D.C. Hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, the conference brings together leaders from around the world to mobilize for the health and resilience of our shared ocean.

Today’s action follows President Obama’s decision last month to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii by 442,781 square miles, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. These actions reflect President Obama’s commitment to the goals of combatting climate change and protecting our ocean, in a way that respects local communities, economies and native practices.

By permanently protecting these resources and reducing other threats to their respective ecosystems, these actions will also improve ocean resilience in the face of climate change, and help to sustain the ocean ecosystems and fishing economies in these regions for the long run.  These priorities are also reflected in the President’s budget where the Administration continues to call on Congress to grow our investment in ocean research and support dedicated programs that build coastal community and marine ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change.

Beyond the important impact of these actions for all Americans, U.S. leadership is yielding dividends globally. Thanks in part to the strong example set by President Obama and the United States, more than twenty countries attending this week’s Our Ocean Conference will announce the creation of 40 significant new marine protected areas, totaling nearly 460,000 square miles of ocean. When combined with the Papahānaumokuākea expansion, the nations of the world have protected more than 900,000 square miles of ocean in 2016, exceeding last year’s record of more than 730,000 square miles.

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

Today’s designation will protect 4,913 square miles of marine ecosystems with unique geological features that have been the subject of scientific exploration and discovery since the 1970s. These features include three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon, and four underwater mountains known as “seamounts” that are biodiversity hotspots and home to many rare and endangered species.  Scientific expeditions to this region have yielded new discoveries including species of coral found nowhere else on Earth and other rare fish and invertebrates. Additionally, the canyons and seamounts provide habitat for protected species such as sea turtles and marine mammals, including endangered sperm, fin, and sei whales and Kemp’s ridley turtles.  The newly protected marine area in the Northeast will be jointly managed by the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior.

According to a study released earlier this year by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ocean temperatures in the Northeast are projected to warm close to three times faster than the global average. Additionally, the first of several assessments to analyze the impacts of climate change on fish stocks and fishing-dependent communities, found that warming oceans are threatening the majority of fish species in the region including salmon, lobster, and scallops. In September 2015, 145 prominent marine scientists wrote a public letter voicing their conclusion that the threats to the unique marine environment in this region warranted permanent protection to preserve intact ecosystems. Today’s designation will help build the resilience of that unique ecosystem, provide a refuge for at-risk species, and create natural laboratories for scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change.

Today’s action also responds to nearly half a century of calls to protect this fragile area and builds on extensive engagement with numerous local officials, businesses, conservation organizations, commercial and recreational fishermen, and members of the public.  In September of 2015, NOAA hosted a public meeting in Providence, Rhode Island to discuss permanent protection of this area. Since that time, senior Administration officials have visited the region repeatedly to engage with elected officials and stakeholders, including meeting locally with members of the commercial fishing industry, to gather data and information and to understand the potential impacts of permanently protecting marine areas.

As a result of this extensive engagement, today’s designation is designed to reflect the unique marine environment in the northeast Atlantic and recognize the unique role that fishing plays in the region’s economy and culture. Specifically:

·         The geographic boundaries of the monument have been narrowly tailored based on the best available science and stakeholder input.

·         Recreational fishing will be allowed within the boundaries of the monument.

·         Red crab and lobster fisheries will be provided with seven years before being required to exit the monument area, to allow these fixed-gear fisheries to transition their operations.

·         Other commercial fishing operators will not have to change their practices immediately and will have 60-days to transition from the monument area.

In addition, the Administration is committed to continue addressing economic impacts on northeast fisheries, building on our ongoing efforts to help New England fisherman that have faced hardships due to changing stock abundance.  Specifically, NOAA is committed to working with Congress to fully utilize existing programs, including those that support:

·         low-interest loans for vessel rehabilitation, acquisition of new vessels, aquaculture, shoreside fisheries facilities, and gear repair or upgrades;

·         surveys in partnership with industry;

·         innovation in stock assessment science; and

·         programs and actions aimed at reducing costs, reducing discard mortality, and increasing flexibility and efficiencies.

NOAA will also be engaging with stakeholders in the region to discuss grant programs that may be relevant including Bycatch Reduction and Engineering Program, the Fisheries Innovation Fund, Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grants, and the Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program. And the Administration will be engaging with other stakeholders to discuss efforts to help support a strong and resilient sustainable fishery in the northeast region.

In addition to supporting businesses as they adjust to a changing climate, the Administration will explore opportunities to advance and implement changes in ocean and fisheries management to address these same forces.  For example, NOAA recognizes the potential impact of climate shifts on species ranges and abundance and is working to assess those impacts on fishery management plans.  Specifically, NOAA will be releasing the northeast region’s Climate Science Regional Action Plan in the next month.  This report will focus on fisheries in the mid-Atlantic and New England, and will prioritize the science needed to evaluate the expansion northward of fish species. These studies will provide the data that the regional fishery management councils and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission need to better manage the catch of changing stocks in the region and along the coast.

The Great Bible Experiment is Coming to Providence!

Did you know that Providence is ranked as one of the least Bible-minded cities in America? It is #98 out of 100 according to the American Bible Society’s annual survey. It’s a similar story across the northeast. Both inside and outside the church, people in our region have a lot of issues with the Bible. On September 19, a secular humanist, a Protestant clergywoman, and a Catholic priest are coming to Providence to help us talk about it.

cropped-RICOC-Logo.jpgSept. 19, 2016     6 pm  (Registration Required – HERE)
Barnard Room
150 Empire St.
Providence, RI
Moderator: The Honorable Arlene Violet, JD


ribs2The RI State Council of Churches and RI Bible Society are proud to sponsor The Great Bible Experiment: Exploring the Bible in America’s Least Bible-Minded Cities. Join us at the Providence Public Library at 6 pm on Monday, September 19. Bring a group from your church and help grow the conversation about the Bible in RI and beyond. For further information about this great program, click HERE

Vigil for Peace, Hope & Understanding

Vigil for Peace, Hope and Understanding

(First Baptist Church, East Greenwich.  July 18, 2016)

vigil abc6WOW! What an amazing outpouring of love, truth, thought and caring. We listened. We agreed, and maybe we disagreed. But we listened. We sang. We found common ground and we were illuminated to areas of difference. But we listened. And in listening with our ears, heart, mind and soul, we were uplifted.

We are proud of our community who came out to listen, and we are proud of the great number of diverse and caring speakers who presented their thoughts. An example is Pastor Ebony Grisom (Resident Pastor First Baptist Church, East Greenwich) who, in her role as “closer” of the Vigil, evoked the memory of ace New York Yankee closer Mariano Riviera. She DID close in grand fashion, but somewhere along the way she also hit a few home runs like some of those OTHER Yankees – Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Alex Rodriguez.

View Complete Video HERE

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Malone – 00:01:08

Bob Houghtaling – 00:05:22

Col. Steven Pare – 00:13:42

Dr. Eshun Mirza – 00:19:32

Rabbi Aaron Philmus – 00:28:42

Rev. Dr. Donald Anderson – 00:49:37

Margret Rodrigue & Grace Fitch – 01:06:12

Chuck Wilson – 01:11:42

Rev. Ebony Grisom – 01:23:42

View Pastor Ebony HERE





Orlando Massacre – Press Release and Prayer Vigil Information

Prayer Vigil for the Victims of the Pulse (Orlando, FL) Night Club Massacre

pulse6pm Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Roger Williams National Memorial
282 North Main Street,  Providence



PRESS RELEASE (June 13, 2016)

rel coalition violence free riOur nation is reeling in the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting, this time our nation’s deadliest. In response to this heinous event that ended at least fifty lives, left many more wounded, and broke hearts worldwide, we, the religious leaders of Rhode Island, call on our communities to pray for healing and wholeness amidst our brokenness. Empowered by our relationship to the Divine, we endeavor to stand up and speak out against all acts of violence.

As people of faith, we voice our loving support for the people of Orlando, the LGBTQ community and our Muslim neighbors. The terror that ensued has affected us all and we will not rest until we assure that such terror will not happen again.

We are inherently concerned about the increasing violence in our society and we commit to bringing it to an end. Working in solidarity we will move our nation from darkness to light. Together we will bring our communities from despair to hope. We will not give in to fear!

In the face of such hatred and anger, we are called to elevate love. We are called to pursue justice, and we are called to bring about an enduring peace for all people in all places, regardless of faith tradition, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Contact: Rev. Dr. Donald C. Anderson, Executive Minister
Rhode Island State Council of Churches
Office 401-461-5558
Cell 401-578-038

Rev. Gene Dyszlewski
Religious Coalition for a Violence-Free Rhode Island
Office: 334-2999
Cell: 401-345-7291



Orlando Club Pulse Massacre (June 12, 2016) – Islamic Response

The Rhode Island State Council of Churches will shortly be issuing a Press Release regarding the massacre at the the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, FL.  We will also have information regarding a prayer vigil (time and location) in support of the victims and survivors of the massacre.

Please visit the pages below for information and statements from the Islamic Community condemning the Orlando massacre:

Here is a video link to Council on America Islamic Relations (CAIR) National’s press conference: View HERE

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is outraged by the horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida.

We stand with the victims of this senseless act of violence and mourn with the families of the victims and pray for their ease and comfort during this time of difficulty. (Rest of Press Release HERE)

Statement – Hate Crimes – Cranston, May 25, 2016

The Cranston Clergy Association strongly condemns yesterday’s hate-filled vandalism in Cranston and stands solidly with all those gathered, including the Mayor and Chief of Police of Cranston and the many organizations represented today.

Although the hatred wasn’t specifically directed at Christians, we want our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters to know that the Christian community of Cranston condemns this act and stands with you today and every day.

The Cranston Clergy Association represents the wider religious community of Cranston. We are Jewish and Christian – and Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant.

I also represent the RI State Council of Churches in both condemning this incident and supporting those gathered here today…Read rest of the Press Release HERE.

Rhode Island State Council of Churches Distributes Signs with Holiday Message to RI Muslim Community

ramadan signMay 24, 2016, Providence, RI – The Rhode Island State Council of Churches (RISCC) invites all faith communities to post free lawn signs that say “To our Muslim Neighbors: BLESSED RAMADAN.”  Ramadan is the month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.  In 2016, it’s from June 6 to July 5.  This annual observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is performed to learn compassion, self-restraint, and generosity.

“From the current political atmosphere to neighborhood hate crimes, we see negativity directed against Muslims. But this is not who we are in Rhode Island.  When we are our best selves, we are a welcoming, caring, respectful community,” said Barbara Scott, the Council’s President. “Signs on our front lawns is one positive way to demonstrate a caring spirit towards Muslim Rhode Islanders…”

To get a free sign delivered to your address in Rhode Island, please email Paul Alexander at with your contact information. The plastic signs are white with black type measuring 18 x 24 inches, similar to lawn signs used in political campaigns.

According to local Muslim scholars, one website is recommended to learn more about Islam:  (Vocabulary nuance: Muslims are the people who practice Islam.)

The rest of the press release can be read HERE