About Us

Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it.  Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished.              — Imam Bukhari’s Book of Muslim Manners

The following people have graciously agreed to serve as advisers for this project, or as indicated, are project staff:

STAFF:

Project Director: Rev. Dr. M’ellen Kennedy is a Unitarian Universalist minister and also an ordained Sufi minister.  She has been actively working for the past year to cultivate Muslim and non-Muslim understanding in northern New England.  Rev. Kennedy has extensive experience in interfaith work.  She served for two years as a chaplain at the Veterans’ Medical Center in Kansas City, MO where she worked successfully with racially and religiously diverse groups.  She has also served for two years as volunteer interfaith chaplain at the Vermont State Hospital.  She is co-founder of the UU Small Group Ministry Network.  Currently, Rev. Kennedy serves two historically Universalist churches in Barre and Washington, Vermont.

Website Consultant: Michael Marcotte is a Vermont Web Developer with a focus on coding websites that are people and search engine friendly. He believes that the web should be available to all, including those with disabilities. He has surveyed content management systems and settled on WordPress as his CMS of choice. Since then he has been digging into the innards of WP and discerning how to use it to create custom web solutions. His overriding hope is that we can somehow find ways to be tolerant of each other, treat each other with love and respect, and take care of this home we share together. Michael is a member of the First Church in Barre, Universalist.

Project Collaborator: Rev. ‘Laelia’ Tawnamaia is a UU Community Minister offering Spiritual Companionship.  She has assisted with the development of Small Group Ministry in three congregations.  She has facilitated and assisted with events aimed to build understanding of Islam and interfaith friendships.  Previously she encouraged interfaith awareness through a spiritual bookshop and center.  She has taught meditation and led a UU Buddhist practice and study group for six years.

14939899-image-of-seamless-stone-ornament-and-mosaicADVISORS:

Ahmad Abdel-Mawgood is a Muslim-American born in Minnesota of Egyptian parents.  He now resides with his family in Stowe, Vermont.  Professionally, he is Software Design Manager for a global software company based in Stowe, Vt.

Muhaideen Batah serves as a spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Vermont located in Colchester, Vt.  Muhaideen was born in Nazareth, Palestine and immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, in 1989 to attended Pratt Institute and Parson School of Design.  He is wood worker and lives with his family in Waitsfield, Vt. He became associated with the Islamic Society of Vermont in 1999 when he and his wife moved to Vermont.

Andre Bernard is a resident of Chatham, NJ and an active member of the Unitarian Church in Summit, where he is currently serving on the Board of Trustees. André is also an active member, and has served on the Board of Trustees, of Interweave, in Summit, NJ, a non-profit organization that brings together “people of all faiths and traditions to explore the common ground of 21st century spiritual, social and cultural development”. André is a musician and leader of the Dances of Universal Peace in Northern New Jersey and New York City. He has been a student of the universal Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan for some 30+ years.  He is also an active  lay leader in the Metro NY District.

Rev. Nurallah Eleanor Briscoe is an ordained Sufi minister, called a Cheraga.  For 22 years she has been a resident of Gainesville, FL (the location in which the threat of the Qur’an burring took place last fall).  She is volunteer coordinator for the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Gainesville.  Nurallah is an active participant in the Interfaith Network promoting understanding and communication among all Religions.

Rev. Becky Gunn serves as minister of the UU Society of Bangor, Maine since August 2008.  She has been active in encouraging understanding of Islam and interfaith work in the Bangor area.  She graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2005.

Rev. Olivia Holmes is a UU minster who has served as interim minister in multiple congregations and is currently on sabbatical in northern New England. Until 2006 she served as the Director of International and Interfaith Relations at the UUA.  Before ministry, Holmes worked extensively in Islamic countries as a consultant to bilateral government social programs in which sensitivity to the tenets of Islam was a crucial element of planning successful programming.

Imam Mohamed Ibrahim serves as Imam and Director of the Islamic Society of the Seacoast Area in Dover, NH.

Pir Zia Inayat-Khan is a scholar and teacher of Sufism in the lineage of his grandfather, Hazrat Inayat Khan. He received his B.A. (Hons) in Persian Literature  and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion. Pir Zia is president of the Sufi Order International and founder of Suluk Academy, a school of contemplative study with branches in the United States and Europe. He is also founder of the interspiritual institute Seven Pillars House of Wisdom.

Rev. Daniel Jantos serves the North Universalist Chapel Society in Woodstock, Vt.  He has been active in networking around Islam.

Shahabuddin David Less is a Senior Teacher in the Sufi Order International and the director of Rising Tide International, a spiritual center in Sarasota, FL dedicated to the transformation of consciousness by awakening the heart.  He is founding member of the Abrahamic Reunion, a group of spiritual peacemakers from the four central faiths of the holy land.

Ibrahim Nourein Mohammed, PhD. is a Sudanese citizen who moved to the US for graduate studies in civil and environmental engineering.  He is employed at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT.  His work is with the EPSCoR project as a Post Doctorate Associate, applying physical models to understand how Lake Champlain adapts to climate and land cover changes.

David Partington, PhD.  spent his professional career as Islamic specialist in the libraries of  Princeton, Michigan, and Harvard Universities.  He was devoted to acquiring and preserving academic materials on Islam from Morocco to Xinjiang, including Arabic references published in the Western hemisphere.  He authored and edited various scholarly works and chaired or served on the boards of six Middle East research associations. He encouraged his staff at Harvard to contribute research to the field and a quantity of original academic publications resulted, a unique accomplishment among Middle East libraries.  He is an active member of both the Washington UU Church and the St. Johnsbury congregation.  He lives in Dalton, NH.

Jaye Starr is an American Muslim UU from Upstate, NY and she is currently a student of Islamic Studies, Christian-Muslim Relations and Chaplaincy at Hartford Seminary. She has been blessed to call many UU congregations home over the years including All Souls DC and New London, but her hometown UU Society of Barneveld is the congregation to which she remains closest. She enjoys learning, striving to deepen her practice, and speaking about both halves of her faith.

Rev. Elissa Teeple is an instructor at the County College of Morris, Randolph, NJ, where she teaches Intercultural Communication.  She has an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University where she is currently working on a Ph.D. She is a Sufi minister and has a strong interest in interfaith dialogue.

Robert Wieselman is an entrepreneur involved in energy saving products.  He is knowledgeable about and experienced in web sites and internet related businesses. He lives in Sarasota, FL.

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