Board Meeting Minutes

July 7th, 2022

Interfaith Alliance of Upstate New York

Meeting Minutes 

In Attendance: Monshin Paul Naamon, Walter Ayres, Rob Kovach (on zoom) Rabbi Moshe Bomser, Fr. Jim Kane, Koshin Bower (on zoom) and Laura Weed.

Reconstituting the Alliance

Monshin Paul Naamon called this meeting to reconstitute the Interfaith Alliance, which had been decommissioned a few years ago.  Paul pointed out that the Interfaith Alliance plays a unique and important role in interfaith dialogue in the Upstate New York Area. Paul and other participants in the meeting cited the Alliances activities as:

  • Addressing Socially Responsible Issues.

  • Advancing humanness, the religious version of secular humanism.

  • Supporting values that all religions have in common, i.e. support for refugees, the homeless, food security, and environmental issues.

  • Promoting respect for minority religions, and opposing religious persecutions of anyone by anyone.

  • Providing a response to attacks on religious groups, such as the attacks on Muslims after 911.

  • Developing personal relationships across religious groups which make it easier to deal with crises when they arise.

  • Creating new networks of relationships which synchronously enhance the work of all religious groups.

  • Celebrating achievements and recognizing accomplishments of community and group members.

Tasks necessary for Reconstituting the Alliance

The Alliance is a Religious 501c3 Organization. This means it is not a lobbying organization, and so must avoid hot button political issues, and religious or spiritual orientation (broadly construed) is required for membership. Members and organizations apply for membership, and pay dues: $30 individual and $100 institutional. We have a Post office box in the Post Office at Stuyvesant Plaza 12203, and a website.  We also have a bank account which currently contains the proceeds from last years’ dinner fund raiser, funds from an anonymous donor, funds raised by selling flags in support of Ukraine, and funds from a grant secured by Deb Riitano to feed West Hill children during the summer. The total is $34, 500, but the grant money, which was delayed in disbursement by COVID and gang violence,  ($5000) and the Ukraine money have to be disbursed to their intended purposes in the next few weeks.  Rob Kovach and Jewish Federation will apply the West Hill lunch program money to stocking refrigerators for residents of West Hill, and Paul will contact the Ukrainian organizations and Churches to disburse the Ukraine funds.

We need an elected board. Our Interim board will serve until we can have an election (via e-mail) for Board Members. Paul Naamon is interim president, Walter Ayres is interim vice president, Laura Weed is interim secretary, and Rob Kovach is interim treasurer.

The Interfaith Alliance will meet at least quarterly, and more often if necessary.  The meetings will have both zoom and in-person options.  The meetings will be Fridays at the Jewish Federation meeting space, starting at 8am with a social half-hour, coffee and bagels, and with the business meeting running from 8:30 am to 9:30 am. Our next meeting is September 9th at 8am at Jewish Federation.

Work moving forward:

Website and Membership

Koshin Bower will be the webmaster, and work on updating the website.  One of the features that Walter said we would like on the website is a calendar of all interfaith holidays and events, so that everyone can see what we are doing, and when, and we can avoid scheduling competing activities at the same times. A membership list and membership forms will also be posted on the website.  We would like to expand the membership of the alliance.  Paul has already contacted some African-American clergy, and we would also like to reach out to Ukraininan Churches and Clergy and Turkish Muslims. Paul asked for suggestions for other new members to be sent to him.

Fund-Raising and Awards Dinner

Paul suggested that we move the Fund-raising and awards dinner to the Spring to avoid conflicts with the Council of Churches dinner, which is usually held in the fall.  Moshe pointed out that we need kosher and halal options, but not necessarily a formal, sit-down dinner.  We will put together a dinner committee to nominate awardees for the Robert LaMar, Ed Bloch and Joan Dunham awards, and organize the dinner.

Stop the Hate Program

We plan to continue the Stop the Hate Events, which Deb Riitano started, and the timing is very short to set the September event up.  Laura Weed will work with Joan Horgan at The College of Saint Rose and Rabbi Cutler from Schenectady to set this event up.