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Join GIC on MLK Day


In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Groton Interfaith Council is once again hosting the Annual Community Pot-luck Breakfast. This year will feature an enlightening presentation by Neelkanth Mishra of the New England Shirdi Sai Parviaar Temple and its approach to social justice and community service. There will be ample time for discussion following his presentation.

The event will begin with breakfast at 10:00 AM at the First Parish Church (UU) in Groton on Monday, January 19, and the speaker will follow.

The event is free. Please bring a vegetarian dish to share.

This annual breakfast is one of many community events sponsored during the year by the Groton Interfaith Council. The Council was begun in Groton in 2009 with the mission of fostering understanding, respect, justice and peace among people of differing religious and faith traditions through education, fellowship, service and worship.

Christmas Tree Lighting 2014

Groton Community Christmas Tree Lighting
Sunday, December 7, at 4:00 p.m.

The Groton Interfaith Council will host the annual Groton Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the front lawn of Union Congregational Church this coming Sunday, Dec. 7 at 4:00 pm. The service will feature the singing of Christmas Carols, prayers and readings from representatives of Groton clergy. The honorary tree lighter this year will be Betsy Sawyer, the Groton Middle School teacher who has been the leader and inspiration for hundreds of Groton students who have created the Big Book–Pages for Peace. Joining Betsy in the lighting of the tree will be a number of her students.

Immediately following the ceremony Union Congregational Church will be hosting a gathering inside the church for some warm drinks and goodies.

Abrahamic Faiths Panel

Abrahamic Faith Poster

Speaker Biographies:

Rabbi Neal Gold – Speaking on Judaism

Rabbi Neal Gold

Rabbi Neal Gold has been the Senior Rabbi of Temple Shir Tikva since July 2005. He arrived at Shir Tikva with a wealth of experience after eight years as Associate Rabbi of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, NJ.

Rabbi Gold is committed to building and maintaining a Jewish Sacred Community at Shir Tikva. As he explains, “A Jewish Sacred Community is a community embodied on traditional Jewish priorities, including the study of Torah, performing Mitzvot, worshipping God and doing acts of kindness, social justice and peacemaking.  In that context, every individual is valued for the unique gifts that he or she brings and is encouraged to grow spiritually by discovering his or her special niche in communal life.”

The Rabbi has been involved with creating meaningful interfaith projects and is an active leader of the Wayland  Clergy Association. For many years, he served proudly on the board of the Ziv Tzedakah Fund and is a founding board member of the Kavod Tzedakah Collective.  He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis and the President’s Council of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi Gold was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1997 and graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion. He and his wife, Heidi, have two sons, Avi and Jeremy, both students at The Rashi School. Rabbi Gold enjoys fishing, writing, skiing, reading and highly amplified music.

Joseph T. Kelley, Ph.D., D.Min. – Speaking on Christianity

521_joekelley_finJoseph Kelley is Associate Professor in Religious and Theological Studies at Merrimack College where he also directs the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. He has served the college as Provost and Vice-President, and is a clinical psychologist. Kelley is the author of five books, including Saint Augustine of Hippo: Selection from Confessions and Other Essential Writings (SkyLight Paths Publications, 2010) and What Are They Saying About Augustine? (Paulist Press, 2014), and three other books in Christian theology. He and his wife Alina live in Methuen, Massachusetts, and enjoy their two adult children who have moved out of the house—mostly.

Celene Ayat Lizzio – Speaking on Islam

celene-ayat-lizzioCelene Ayat Lizzio is Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence and Co-Director of the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE) at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College

Ms. Lizzio is a Faculty Associate of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Episcopal Divinity School, and Co-Director of the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College. She earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Harvard Divinity School in Islamic Studies and completed a bachelor’s degree with highest honors from Princeton University’s Near Eastern Studies Department. Ms. Lizzio has published widely and has been recognized as a Harvard Presidential Scholar and a fellow in Religion, Diplomacy and International Relations at Princeton University, among other distinctions.

Ms. Lizzio has written numerous articles on themes related to interreligious relations, Islamic family law, feminist theory, women’s religious leadership, and Islamic Higher Education. Her recent publications include: “Religion, Gender, and Family Law: Critical Perspectives on Integration for European Muslims,” in Muslim Family Law in Western Societies, and “Women’s Leadership in North American Islam,” in Religious Leadership, as well as a study on women’s ritual purity in Muslima Theology: The Voices of Muslim Women Theologians. Her essays and editorials appear in a variety of publications including in Studies in Interreligious Dialogue and the Journal of Muslim World Affairs, and the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women.

9 March 2014 Panel on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism

abrahamicAll too often in today’s news, we are reminded of what appear to be stark differences among the faith traditions of the world. But, what about their commonalities, their similarities, where they intersect or overlap, what they share?

The Groton Interfaith Council is hosting a panel discussion to help us gain a greater understanding of the common ground between three of the world’s great religions–Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Often referred to as the Abrahamic Faiths, these three faith traditions share a common ancestry with the Biblical figure of Abraham held as the founder of all three.

On Sunday, March 9, 2014 from 5:00 pm until 7:30 pm a panel of 3 distinguished scholars will speak to the common heritage of these 3 faith traditions. Speaking on the Christian faith will be Dr. Joseph T. Kelley, Director of Merrimack College’s Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. Speaking on Islam will be Ms. Celine Ayat Lizzio, currently a Faculty Associate at the Merrimack College Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. Rabbi Neal D. Gold from Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, MA will speak about Judaism.

This event will include a lively discussion among the three panelists as well as a question and answer time for the audience. it will be held at the First Parish Church of Groton located at 1 Powderhouse Road, Groton, MA. All are welcome and refreshments will be served.

The Groton Interfaith Council was established in 2009 and is made up of representatives of religious organizations and individual community members from the Groton area. The Groton Interfaith Council strives to meet its stated mission of fostering understanding, respect, justice and peace among people of differing religious and faith traditions through education, fellowship, service and worship. Some of the other events sponsored by the Groton Interfaith Council have included a Prayer for Peace Service on the September 11 Anniversary; a Breaking of the Fast celebration during Ramadan; Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Town Common; a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot; Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast honoring his birthday and his legacy of community service.

Please come join us for what we hope is an evening of great conversation and dialogue with the goal of enhancing our understanding of each other.

For more information please contact: Shua Arshad, Vice President, Groton Interfaith Council, or Judy Nauman, Secretary, Groton Interfaith Council, 978-808-4881,

MLK Breakfast

Each year, Groton Interfaith Council hosts an annual potluck breakfast in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Traditionally, this event is held in close proximity to the civil rights leader’s birthday, and the theme of the breakfast focuses on community service as a way to honor Dr. King’s legacy of service.

This annual breakfast is one of many community events sponsored during the year by the Groton Interfaith Council. The Council was begun in Groton in 2009 with the mission of fostering understanding, respect, justice and peace among people of differing religious and faith traditions through education, fellowship, service and worship.

This year’s breakfast will take place on Monday, January 20, 2014. The Potluck Breakfast will begin at 9:00 am and will be held at First Parish Church of Groton. Bring your favorite breakfast treat and join the discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

This year’s speaker will be Maggie Monroe­-Cassel, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts. Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable quality housing through construction, rehabilitation and preserving of homes and communities. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has built, renovated and repaired more than 600,000 decent, affordable homes sheltering more than 3 million people world­wide.

Originally from New York State, Maggie Monroe­-Cassel is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman. While serving churches in New York for 25 years, Maggie founded a Habitat affiliate and a local credit union, to pursue her belief in economic justice. Maggie will speak about the work of Habitat for Humanity locally but also about the roots of this organization which sprang up from amidst the American Civil Rights Movement.

For additional information contact Steve Boczenowski, President, Groton Interfaith Council (978-­448-­5013 or; or Judy Nauman, Secretary, Groton Interfaith Council (978-­808-­4881 or

Christmas Tree Lighting 2013

On Sunday, December 8th, at 4PM, the Groton Interfaith Council hosted the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Town Common.Prayers, seasonal readings, and carols were accompanied by local musicians.

This year, the honorary tree lighters were Edie and Bert Tompkins, longtime Groton residents and enthusiastic supporters of the performing arts for children and adults.

Following the ceremony, Union Congregational Church hosted a reception in its Fellowship Hall featuring warm beverages and assorted goodies.

CHRISTMASTREE from The Groton Line on Vimeo.

A Response to the Marathon Bombing

We have all been saddened to read the news of the past week and we abhor the violence that has been perpetrated on so many innocent people.

The Groton Interfaith Council would like to remind everyone in our community that we should recognize that these acts of hate were conducted by a small group of troubled individuals. Until we learn more from reliable news sources, we should not conclude that they are representative of any group of people.

We also ask our community to remember that violence done in the name of any faith is a misrepresentation of that faith. During these difficult times, we would encourage everyone to stay calm, seek peace, and perform acts of kindness and compassion.

Let us seek to be among the peacemakers and open our hearts especially wide to one another in this time of stress and sorrow. The Groton Interfaith Council is an association of religious organizations and individual community members from the greater Groton area.

The mission of the Groton Interfaith Council is to foster understanding, respect, justice and peace among people of a variety of religious traditions through worship, fellowship, education, and service.

Inspired by our different faiths and our common values, we thus bind ourselves together in association for mutual enrichment and community service and agree to honor the differences among us in theology, polity, worship, and practice.

Together we will seek ways to create more understanding and acceptance of people of diverse religions and cultures.

Gospel Concert 2013

On Saturday, January 12, at 4:00 PM, the Groton Interfaith Council will sponsor a gospel concert featuring the Boston Community Choir in the sanctuary of the First Parish Church.  The Boston Community Choir has become well-known throughout the Boston area for its inspired and uplifting performances.  In its special way, this choir is adding to the very rich and exciting history of gospel music.  This event is free and open to the public.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Groton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.  This program is also supported in part by the Groton Trust Funds.

Christmas Tree Lighting 2012

On Sunday, December 2nd, the Groton Interfaith Council held its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.  There were prayers, led by Groton’s clergy, and music, accompanied by the Groton Wind Ensemble.  And, of course, we lit the Christmas Tree – recently retired Town Moderator, Bob Gosselin, did us the honor of flipping the switch.