The Kent Community Dinner, hosted by All Together Now, Inc. and the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent (ISAK), was recently held at the Islamic Community Center of Cuyahoga Falls.
The event was attended by 300 people, including members of the Kent Jaycees, Kent and Copley Lions and Kent Rotary and representatives of Kent-Dudince Sister Cities Association, Kent Scandinavian Club and the Russians of Mogadore.
Also attending were James Geisey, president of the Akron Interfaith Council; Frank Hairston, president of the Portage County Black Caucus; and the Rev. Eddie Renfroe, president of the Portage County NAACP. Area businesses including City Bank Antiques, Kent Floral, Baked in the Village Cafe and Sam Verbulecz, photojournalist, were represented.
The Rev. Julie Fisher of Christ Episcopal Church, the Rev. Heather Wicks of United Church of Christ, the Rev. Christie Anderson and the Rev. Melissa Carvill-Ziemer of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, and Bruce Price, leader of the Unity Chapel of Light in Tallmadge, also attended.
Kent State University Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alfreda Brown, speaking for Kent State University President Lester Lefton, said, "KSU supports the work All Together Now, Inc. is doing."
City Councilman Jack Amrhein spoke on behalf of Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala. "We consider the Kent Community Dinner to be Kent's small but important contribution to the creation of peace on earth, one diverse friendship at a time," said Amrhein.
ISAK Vice President Zareen Farooqi gave the welcome. Attendees were given an introduction to Islam by Hakeem Najeeullah, a member of the board of directors of ISAK and All Together Now, Inc.
The keynote address, given by Dr. Kara Ellis Skora of the Department of Religious Studies at the College of Wooster, was on "Communitas," the meaningful experience that can take place when people are listening and "in the moment."
The dinner was catered thanks to All Together Now, Inc., ISAK, Wise Steel and Friends of the Dinners. The more than 30 volunteers included the youth of ISAK, Boy Scout Troop No. 259, students from KSU's Honors College and Service Learning Center, and some community leaders.
There was a brief closing by Najeeullah and Laura Mazur, director of All Together Now, Inc.