Oregon Interfaith Hub/IPSI History
For the entire history of this organization up until June 2021, the newly named Oregon Interfaith Hub was at its beginning in October 2001 known as the Interfaith Service of Prayer, Remembrance and Reflection, then the Interfaith Prayer and Reflection Service, and, finally up until June 2021 it was called Interfaith Prayer Service International or IPSI. The following is a brief summary of our 20 year history.
Immediately after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a local member of the Sikh community, Siri Kaur Khalsa-Harris and other religious leaders in the greater Eugene community quickly came together to support one another and to begin to consider how to respond to the widespread pain and fear.
The following is Siri Kaur’s personal account of how this vision of a monthly interfaith service began. “In brief, while in deep meditation, in 1996, I experienced the presence of a Great Being. In the midst of that loving Presence, I was made aware that I should initiate a regular coming together of devotion from all faiths, especially those who might be or will be experiencing painful times. This was given from a global perspective. I cannot tell you all that I was guided to understand, but I was impressed with ‘how vital this could be to our community and with enough heart, the world’. At the very least, by providing consistent interfaith services we live the fact that the common denominator is, has and always will be God, recognized or not. I was assured if we worked for the good of the whole through selflessness, we would be helped. This has certainly proven true. God’s presence each month has been experienced by all in a variety of healing, uplifting ways.”(It was five years after her experience in meditation, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11/2001, that Siri Kaur shared this personal vision with the local Eugene interfaith organization called TRIM- Two Rivers interfaith Ministries.)
Continuing in Siri Kaur’s words: “You see, even though there was much skepticism in the beginning of these services, we have never been alone. For most people it may have only been the horrendous events of 9/11 that motivated them to action, but those who have and will serve as God’s instruments have needed more than fear, dread and heartbreak. We have been able to confront and surpass great and serious challenges because we have been infused with a Greater Love than our own.
In the sanctity of my soul, I offer this to be as true an account (though brief) of this powerful experience and the awareness brought to you through me… As I pass it outward, my task is done so I absolutely do not want or need credit. It is given to enlighten and empower anyone, anywhere as to how we can relate to each other, standing strong and steady from our various faith traditions in unity as we combat fear and its effects. This gift is offered with a purity of intent, because God is the True Beginnings, Power, Love and Light behind these Services and my life.”
Therefore, this Interfaith Prayer Service began on October 11, 2001. It was decided that they would have three monthly interfaith services on October 11, November 11, and December 11, 2001. They were held at First Christian Church in Eugene. Those three services turned into one year of monthly services, then two years, five years and way beyond, always on the 11th of each month. Services were strongly supported by the Eugene-Springfield community with hundreds of community members attending each and every service through the years. This historical account was put together on August 16, 2021 and updated on March 14, 2023.
The Interfaith Prayer Service continued unbroken for almost 20 years on the 11th of each month, an amazing unmatched legacy of love and service to the Eugene community and the world. Countless individuals from a kaleidoscope of faiths and paths provided inspirational words, music, prayers, and stories through these 21+ years. Countless thousands have been blessed by this example of love and unity. Many souls from many religious and spiritual traditions volunteered to take care of the many logistics for 221 consecutive monthly services on the 11th of each and every month through February of 2020. Beginning in late 2020, discussions began in the leadership about the future of the Interfaith Prayer Service. Those discussions included ideas that would broaden the scope of the organization’s purpose. The board of directors, after many months of inwardly listening and receiving inner nudges and engaging in thoughtful exchanges of inner visions and guidance, voted in 2021 to rename IPSI. The new name chosen was the Oregon Interfaith Hub.
When the COVID outbreak began, we made the switch to online services on zoom on March 11, 2020 to ensure the continuation of the service on the 11th of each month. This continued through July of 2021. An outdoor service was held at the Rose Garden site near the Willamette river path on August 11, 2021. Then, 20th anniversary interfaith services on September 11, 2021 and October 11, 2021 at the Center for Spiritual Living in Eugene. These services were without a live audience, but they were broadcast live online.
During 2021, the leadership held several in-depth meetings to discern what was next for the Oregon Interfaith Hub. It was decided to create a very part-time paid staff which had never taken place in their 20 year history. All services and ongoing tasks in the past had been put together by volunteers. The two initial part-time staff members were hired: an executive director, Rev. Ed Conrad, and a service and event coordinator, Emily Farthing.
In November 2021, for the first time in 20 years, there was no interfaith service in person or online. That break from the pattern of always having a service on the 11th of every month ended. Then, services resumed with the first in-person service in almost 2 years which was held at the Center for Spiritual Living on December 22, 2021.
The change of no longer doing in-person monthly services on the 11th of every month was the beginning of a transitional period in which the leadership continued to discern next steps. In the first half of 2022, two interfaith services were held at the Center for Spiritual Living, Professor Simon Aihiokhai with the University of Portland did an online presentation followed by a Q & A, two online prayer vigils were held for the people of Ukraine, and a 4 week online class on Transformative Meditation was held. On September 11, 2022, a beautiful in-person Interfaith Service was held at our original home, First Christian Church, followed by our final interfaith service of 2022 at the Center for Spiritual Living.
We move forward in 2023 energized by new possibilities for how best to serve the cause of Interfaith and Interpath in greater Eugene and Oregon especially through our newly established partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene! (UUCE) Interfaith Services in 2023 are being held at UUCE on the 4th Tuesday of every other month: January 24th, March 28th, May 23rd, July 25th, September 26th, and November 28th. Please join us!