Shinnyo-en Temple (10/04/18)
Shinnyo-en is an international Buddhist community dedicated to helping people realize greater self-awareness, happiness, and harmony for the good of humanity and for a world of peace. The name Shinnyo-en means “a garden without borders”, where all people can bring forth their innate, true nature. This year's program included learning of the faith tradition, participating in a meditation service, traditional tea ceremony, Q&A with Rev. Nichelle Madrigal, lunch, and performance by Shinnyo-en Taiko Drummers.
Jain Center of So-Cal (5/06/18)
Our tour to the Jain center was an amazing trip of culture, community and faith. Visit included a tour of interior sanctuary, observation of prayers, Q & A, as well as lunch with member of the Jain community. Additionally, our attendees were treated to henna, sari-tying and hands-on Rangoli art. We also learned history of the Jain tradition by our resident scholar and meaning behind the scripture and practice as well.
Christ Our Redeemer Church (1/14/18)
We visited the Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine for a special service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. Reverend Mark Whitlock presided over the service. Rev. Whitlock has served as pastor of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church in Irvine, CA since August 1998. Following the service, there was a lunch and a special Q&A session with Reverend Richard Rose, who is the Assistant Pastor to Rev. Whitlock.
Sikh Center of Orange County (9/17/17)
We visited the Sikh Center of Orange County in Santa Ana on a tour with wonderful speakers. Hosted by Dr. Jasjit Singh Ahuja and Dr. Gurpreet Ahuja of the California Sikh Council, the tour included a presentation and overview of the Sikh faith, Q&A session, and even a Turban-tying demonstration! Participants had an opportunity to observe the Kirtan (recitation/singing of Hymns) and Diwan (traditional prayer service). We also enjoyed in a delicious traditional meal, also known as Langar, with members of the Sikh community.
Hsi Lai Temple (5/20/17)
We visited the beautiful Hsi Lai Temple on a private tour with an interactive Q&A discussion and wonderful speakers. Participants enjoyed seeing the largest Buddhist temple in North America. Lunch in a cafe on temple grounds was also provided. "Hsi Lai" means Coming West. The temple is affiliated with Fo Guang Shan, a Buddhist organization from Taiwan. It is the order's first overseas branch temple, and serves as the North American regional headquarters for Fo Guang Shan. Hsi Lai Temple was the site of the founding of Buddha's Light International Association, established in 1991. The temple, like its mother temple in Taiwan, practices Humanistic Buddhism.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (4/29/17)
We visited the exquisite new Hindu Temple on a special tour with a Q&A discussion and wonderful speakers. Participants saw and learned at this visually stunning Hindu Temple. They had the opportunity to sample a sumptious, traditional Indian lunch, including a unique and delicious mango beverage. Constructed from 35,000 pieces of meticulously hand carved Italian Carrara marble and Indian Pink sandstone, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir encompasses five pinnacles, two large domes, four balconies, 122 pillars and 129 archways. From the external walls and domes to the inside pillars and ceilings, the Mandir is completely etched with intricate carvings in marble and sandstone. The 6,600 hand-carved motifs depict a mosaic of tales of inspiration, devotion and dedication, along with historical figures from Hinduism.
First African Methodist Episcopal Church (3/19/17)
We visited the iconic First African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Los Angeles. The 142 year old First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles (FAME) is the oldest African American Church in the city (founded in 1872). FAME is now a congregation of more than 19,000 members and several dozen ministries within 13 corporations that bless and reach tens of thousands in the greater metropolitan Los Angeles area. Built on the foundation laid by Bishop Richard Allen, who in the City of Philadelphia in 1787, started the movement that later became the African Methodist Episcopal Church, FAME Church finds joy in being the "First To Serve.” Participants enjoyed beautiful views of the architecture of the church and engaged in key discussions and an interactive panel. A catered lunch was serve
Meet Your Muslim Neighbors (2/19/17)
We visited and toured the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo. Participants engaged in key discussions, including one on the “Basics of Islam” and an interactive panel, “Being Muslim in Orange County.” A catered, Halal middle eastern dinner was served. Panelists included Imam Sheikh Tarik Ata, Dr. Omar Ezzeldine, Maria Khani, and Sgt. Mike Abdeen. Sheikh Tarik Ata has a BA in Islamic jurisprudence and various certifications in the Arabic language, Quranic recitation, and Islamic creed/theology. Dr. Omar Ezzeldine works at the Los Angeles County Office and served as Principal at New Horizon Irvine. Maria Khani is the founder of A Country Called Syria and a board member of Access California Services. Sergeant Mike Abdeen is a 25 year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who has received the Award of Distinction from the California Peace Officers Association.
St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral (2/15/17)
During this tour, participants enjoyed a visit of the magnificent St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. They admired the beautiful architecture of the Cathedral, and dined after during lunch at the historic Papa Cristo's Greek Grill. The Cathedral has been declared an historical monument of the City of Los Angeles. Visitors have been welcomed and guided through the Cathedral by the Sextons and more recently by the Docents. The Cathedral continues to evolve and it no longer stands alone, but has a pivotal position in the surrounding community of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter (BLQ).
Being Muslim in Orange County (1/21/17)
During this tour, we visited two mosques: the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim and the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove. Participants enjoyed beautiful views of the architecture of both mosques and engaged in key discussions, including "Islam 101 -- An Introduction to Islam" and "Being Muslim in Orange County in 2017." The Guest Scholar for this tour was Maria Khani, founder of A Country Called Syria and board member of Access California Services. The speaker panel included Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Mr. Hussam Ayloush, and Captain Leiva from the Garden Grove Police Department. Additionally, tour guides for this program were Nicole Bovey Alhakawati and Jamal Zaheen, the Outreach Coordinator at the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim. A catered, Halal Middle Eastern lunch was served.
Wilshire Boulevard Jewish Temple (12/4/16)
One of our country’s most highly respected Reform congregations, Wilshire Boulevard Temple has been responding to the needs of the Los Angeles Jewish community since its founding in 1862 as Congregation B’nai B'rith, the first synagogue in Los Angeles. Today, the Temple is many things: a center for Jewish spirituality and celebration, a place for lifelong learning and friendship, and an engaged congregation where every person makes a difference. Wilshire Boulevard Temple offers services and worship, adult programs, life cycle events, volunteer and social action opportunities, cultural events, and learning to its members. Many of its cultural activities are open to the wider public. During this tour, attendees enjoyed the beauty of the Temple as well as lunch at the famous Canter's Delicatessen.