Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee Executive David Kurzmann spoke on Sunday, Dec. 3 on the value that the Interfaith Leadership Council has added to his community outreach work and of pushing away the darkness of marginalization with the light of hospitality as part of Christ Cranbrook Church’s yearlong “Creating a Welcoming Community” series.
The speaker series, a long-standing tradition at Christ Cranbrook Church, invites a guest speaker to address the first Sunday evensong service of each month. In addition to Kurzmann, the church this year has already hosted Joe Summers, a local Catholic who has championed LGBTQ rights, and the Rev. Dr. Niklaus (Nik) C. Schillack who serves as the Director of Congregational Engagement for social services non-profit Samaritas.
Upcoming guest speakers this year at Christ Cranbrook Church include:
January 7 Jack Krasula, host of the weekly WJR-760 AM Radio show, Anything is Possible, which features guests who share stories of overcoming simple beginnings and many obstacles in their life to achieve their goals.
February 4 Dominic Demarco, President of Cranbrook Educational Community
March 4 Christopher Johnson, Rector- All Saints Pontiac
April 8 Chris Skellenger, founder of Buckets of Rain, an organization that wishes to bring nutritional resources to inner-city Detroit through urban gardening.
Christ Church Cranbrook’s Father Bill Danaher said his congregants look forward to hearing the guest speakers every month, where they can also chat with them at a post-service reception. Like all services, these monthly Evensong services are open to the public.
“All our guests are stellar in their work of promoting inclusivity and strengthening the wider Detroit community, as well as being engaging and engrossing speakers.” said Father Danaher.
As he addressed the congregation of 152 attendees on this first Evensong of Advent, Kurzmann reflected on his Jewish upbringing and how it led him to his work in community relations within and outside the Jewish community.
“I grew up in sort of a Jewish bubble. I went to high school and college and then in my early professional life surrounded myself with mostly Jewish friends and associates. I’ve been to Israel 10 times without even visiting a non-Jewish holy site,” said Kurzmann to the congregation. “It was not until I led a group of mostly non-Jewish college-aged leaders to Israel and visited places like The Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Capernaum did I see the importance of this land through a different lens. It is what led me to my work in community outreach.”
Speaking upon the messages of Chanukah – overcoming darkness with light and rededication (of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem) – Kurzmann said it is incumbent on all of Detroit’s residents to not be complacent in a time of rising hatred towards minorities and other ethnic groups.
JCRC/AJC carries the dual responsibility of reflecting the Jewish community’s consensus while providing leadership in pursuit of traditional and contemporary Jewish values. It is both a gathering of activists and a platform for advocacy, agents of social change and stewards of conscience. JCRC/AJC serves as a catalyst to heighten community awareness, encourages civic and social involvement, and provides a forum to deliberate key issues of importance to the Jewish community.
“The message of Chanukah is Rededication. At a time when hate acts are on the rise towards many minority and ethnic groups and suspicions rise against the newcomer and the refugee, we at this time of year, when we celebrate the holidays of our many faiths, have to ask ourselves: How will we in the coming year rededicate ourselves to the importance of strengthening the value of creating community?
“JCRC/AJC is a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. JCRC/AJC is also an affiliate of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which serves as the national representative voice of Jewish community relations councils.