Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square

The Spark

May 3, 2015: Two attackers were killed before they could enter the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas. After this event, individuals from The Thanks-Giving Foundation and its Interfaith Council realized there was no well-organized group of faith leaders to provide a coordinated message to the community after a civic emergency.

Conversations began with Dr. Robert Hunt at Southern Methodist University. Upon his recommendation, we connected with Rev. Bob Roberts of Northwood Church in Keller — leader of the most robust interfaith ministry in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. With the guidance of Hunt and Roberts, we clarified the nature and purpose of a new group to be formed.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square

The First Meeting

Between June 2015 and August 2015, representatives from Thanks-Giving Square met individually with faith leaders from across the Dallas region. Each was personally invited to participate in a new multi-faith task force initiative. On September 10, the initiative was shared with Vana Hammond (Chief of Community in Dallas Mayor Rawling’s office) with the idea that a multi-faith task force could become a liaison between the Mayor’s office and faith groups during times of crisis.

The first meeting, “One Community, Many Faiths” occurred on September 16, 2015 with 24 clergy attending from regional congregations. After a dialogue facilitated by Rev. Bob Roberts, the group came to an agreement that a multi-faith task force is a valid and necessary next step. The task force — which later chose the name “Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square” — became active through planning meetings and began responding to community needs immediately.

 The First Year

  • September 16, 2015: Our first meeting, “One Community, Many Faiths” was held.
  • October 9 & 10, 2015: Armed protests occur at several local mosques.
  • November 17, 2015: Rabbi Andrew Paley hosts an all-day planning retreat at Temple Shalom, with Dr. Robert Hunt and Rev. Bob Roberts facilitating.
  • December 13, 2015: In response to protests against mosques in Dallas a statement on behalf of the Multi-Faith Task Force is created, signed and released to the media and at a press conference organized by the Islamic Association of North Texas.
  • March 4, 2016: The Multi-Faith Task Force participates in the Allen Brooks remembrance and provides a statement to the press on the event.
  • April 2, 2016: A protest organized by BAIR occurs at Mosque #48 in South Dallas. Multi-Faith Task Force leaders are there. Two days later, on the 48th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the task force — along with collaborating interfaith organizations — makes a joint statement to the press at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center denouncing the cowardly armed protest of the mosque.
  • April 27, 2016: With the guidance of Ruth Fitzgibbons and Linda Osgood from the Richards Group, the name “Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square” is adopted. The tag line, “Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice” is added shortly after.
  • June 12, 2016: Representatives of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square speak at the press conference and at the vigil after the shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. They present the joint statement from many faith leaders at the Cathedral of Hope Resource Center.
  • June 17, 2016: Thanks-Giving Square hosts “Dallas Remembers Charleston One Year Later: A Celebration of Unity and Faith”
  • June 21, 2016: Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square leaders participate in the Mayor’s Iftar Dinner at Dallas City Hall.
  • July 8, 2016: After the police shootings in Dallas, Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square leaders participate in the Mayor’s Multi-Faith Prayer Vigil at Thanks-Giving Square.
  • July 12, 2016: Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square leaders are seated with the Dallas City Council at the Dallas police memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Faith Forward Dallas leads prayers on stage prior to President Obama’s remarks.
  • August 15, 2016: Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square meets with the Dallas Arts District, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, and Compassionate DFW regarding promoting compassion and art.
  • August 17, 2016: The Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square Coordinating Committee conducts a strategic planning meeting at Temple Shalom.
  • October 26, 2016: The United Nations Association Dallas Chapter recognizes the collaboration of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings at the 71st UN day Celebration.

"This vertical dimension in man's life penetrates into a horizontal city, and this little piece of land will acknowledge man's dependence on the Divine. As Liberty is symbolized in New York Harbor, Thanksgiving will come to life in Dallas."

For 50 years, people around the world saw our city through the lens of the Kennedy assassination. Through that tragedy, modern-day Dallas was born. A great city. Those of us who love this city always knew there was so much more to Dallas than what happened on that day in 1963. Now, the year following that, this oasis, Thanks-Giving Square, began to come to life. This place is not really a park. It is a piece of the soul of our city. The idea was that we needed a gathering place. A place for unity of people of all backgrounds, of all religions, of all races. A place to say thank-you. A place of thankfulness.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings2016