Religion series puts the spotlight on Sikhism.

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland sponsors an ongoing Religion 101 Series. (Photo by Dave Raith).

MAITLAND — If Jasbir Bhatia knows one thing about his religion, it’s that Sikhism is very challenging for many — to pronounce.
“It is difficult to pronounce,” Bhatia said. “Some call it shiek, shake, sick, six.”
It’s also not very well known in the United States, he added, even though there are actually 23 million Sikhs practicing the faith today.
“We are the fifth largest religion in the world,” Bhatia said. “About 20 million live in India, and the rest are scattered around the world.”
It is a faith, he added, that believes in one God — and a loving one.
“He has no negativity like anger — he is all-loving,” Bhatia said. “In summary, Sikhism believes in one supreme being, and calls for a God-conscious, morally and socially responsible life.”
On Tuesday, Bhatia — a devout follower of the Sikh religion, member of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, and board member of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida — talked about his faith at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida.
The center in Maitland has been sponsoring a Religion 101 Series every month since September, putting the spotlight on religions like Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity so far.
On Tuesday, the spotlight turned to Sikhism. Continue reading

The nature of Christianity today.

Rev. Bryan Fulweider discusses the Christian faith, its history and where it stands today, during the Religion 101 series at the Holocaust Memorial and Resource Center in Maitland. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

MAITLAND – Rev. Bryan Fulweider is well aware that some people view Christians and the entire Christian faith as one solid, monolithic group, united in a clear concept of spirituality and the meaning of the Bible.
Nothing, he added, could be further from the truth.
Christianity has historically been about splits, he noted – people who could not agree on basic tenets of faith and splintered off into their own sect.
“What is most astonishing about Protestant Christianity to me,” he said, “is how many denominations of Protestant there are. At last estimation, there are somewhere between 35,000 and 38,000 strains. It’s very interesting in reality that in Protestant Christianity, there has been a propensity to split and split and split.”
Often times today, Christianity gets its clearest public image from those members of the faith who are most vocal, particularly on the subject of conversion.
“We often find it’s the most strident voices of Christianity that we hear,” he said. “Most often, that ‘I as a Christian am bound to convert you.’ It’s almost difficult sometimes to have a conversation about the Christian faith, because there is such a strong need to convert you to their concept of Christianity.” Continue reading

Holiday tree lighting ceremony kicks off on Friday.

Lake Eola Park is starting to get into the holiday spirit. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO — Earlier this month, on Nov. 14, the fountain at Lake Eola turned blue.
If that seems like a somber color, it was for a reason. The city was officially using that color in recognition of World Diabetes Day, and to raise awareness of the illness that has impacted so many lives.
The next day, the fountain turned purple, this time to commemorate Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and Hunger and Homeless Awareness Month as well.
On Friday, though, the fountain at Lake Eola will be displaying the colors green and red more regularly, and the city will use the final day in November to officially kick off the holiday season.
Starting at 4 p.m. at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, there will be the traditional and official lighting of the city’s Christmas tree. That tree has been standing next to the Amphitheater for more than a week now, after Parks & Recreation Department workers set it up there.
The annual Holiday Lights Orlando event will be followed by a presentation of “The Gift,” a play presented by the Trinity Downtown Evangelical Lutheran Church and School. The evening will also include live music, an outdoor movie, and holiday treats for everyone to enjoy. Continue reading

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