Interfaith Story Circle   (Albany, Schenectady, Troy, NY)
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Events 2015-2016

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WELCOME to the Interfaith Story Circle of the Tri-City Area!

Our mission is promoting understanding, respect and friendship among people of diverse cultures, ethical traditions and religions by facilitating the sharing of stories.

We open and close the circle with a prayer or reflection.

The guest storyteller will share some thoughts on the circle’s theme and tell some related stories.

You are then invited to tell a story if you wish. We all enjoy listening, and some of us may be moved to share a personal or a traditional story. Stories bring forth other stories, which greatly enrich our circle when given a voice. So don’t be surprised if you find that you have a story (or two!) to tell.

Don’t be shy; a story given life through telling is often as much a gift for the teller as for those who hear it.

We don't clap, discuss or comment on the stories. We move from story to story, sometimes with a bit of silence in between.

We are glad you have chosen to be with us. Sit back, relax and ready yourself for the pleasure, inspiration and wisdom that can come with the telling of each tale!

Thursday, Sept. 10, 6:30-9:00 pm (Tour of shrine room at 6:30, Storytelling at 7)

Theme: Buddhist Tales (kindness, compassion, etc.)

Doane Stuart School
199 Washington Avenue, Rensselaer, NY 12144

Guest Storytellers: Laura M. Roth of Albany Karma Thegsum Choling
  Tamara Geveci of the Order of Interbeing, tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh

Come to tell or to listen. Bring a friend. All are welcome!

Parking Directions: Park in the lot on Forbes Ave.(to the left of the school) and enter the school from the left side, the third set of doors from the front.

For more information, please contact Suman Joshi 518-785-0392 or Claire Nolan 518-209-6477,

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A report about this meeting

I returned home full of bliss and gratitude from our circle held in the Tibetan Buddhist shrine at Doane Stuart School. Laura Roth and others from her community hosted us. Laura told a teaching tale from one of the Buddha's many lives as a golden deer. In it a king awakens to compassion for all beings. Another tale featured a monk reciting a mantra while holding a prayer wheel and teaching his neighbors that "good" and "bad" happenings weren't necessarily as they seemed.

Tamara Geveci, representing a sangha (community) based on the tradition of Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, shared her "path-to-practice" story - recalling how her Catholic grandmother planted the seed of regular prayer in her. Years later she discovered Jon Kabat Zinn's Wherever You Go, There you Are, and learned the about the practice of mindfulness. Eventually she read Being Peace, an early Thich Nhat Hanh book, and found her way to the Kingfisher sangha for support to help her deepen her mindfulness, compassion, and understandings about how our attachments contribute to our own and others' suffering. She also shared "The Coconut Monk," a story by "Thay," her teacher, in which a young Vietnamese man teaches at least some of his people not to fight each other. Together his community gathers metal fragments from the war and transforms them into a bell which, when "invited" to sound, reminds those who hear it to stop, breathe, be still, and find inner peace.

A group of nearly 40 listeners - many first-timers - joined us on cushions and chairs. The energy of deep listening and appreciations was palpable! We heard of a great speaking bear, sadly betrayed, who wanted only to live in peace and help others, A student of Buddhism told of his teacher sharing how he found a deceased mother bear and her still-living cubs. Hearing the tale many times already has had a deep and lasting effect on the teller.

I shared how Denise Levertov's poem, "Flickering Mind" helped me think about a family struggle I'm experiencing. After the meeting, I found "Flickering" and a brief summary of Levertov's heritage and faith journey on

Janaki, Gert, Suman, Claire, Stephanie and others whose names I didn't catch told other fine tales. Joan Atkins closed the evening with the story of the Tibetan teacher Milarepa and his teacher Marpa, in which we could see the working of karma in a man's life and how much suffering, work, and sacrifice usually precede enlightenment.

I feel so grateful for such a memorable evening of stories and deep listening, thanks to Interfaith Story Circle. Next month is the annual "Tent of Abraham" pot luck (6) followed by tales on TUES OCT. 20. More details will follow in a list of upcoming IFSC events. COME whenever you can. It's an experience of PEACE!

Marni Gillard, Storyteller 518-381-9474

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 6:00 - 9:15 pm (Vegetarian pot luck 6-7 (please list ingredients), storytelling 7-9:15)

Theme: Stories of Love for all God has Created

Our Tenth Anniversary Interfaith Story Circle
Under the Tent of Abraham, Sarah and Hajar

B'NAI Sholom Reform Congregation
420 Whitehall Rd., Albany, NY

Our Tellers:

Dr. Mussarat Chaudhry of the Islamic Faith Tradition
Micki Groper of the Jewish Faith Tradition
Anne Snyder of the Christian Faith Tradition
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After the three tellers finish their stories, we will open the circle for any else who would like to tell a story.

Some story suggestions: Stories may tell of relationships with people,animals, and/or the natural world around us. At our last Tent of Abraham program, we told stories about God creating the earth and all who inhabit it. This year we will seek stories that tell about our relationship with God’s Creation, and creatures.

Come and tell a story,or come and listen.

For more information call or e-mail Anne Snyder at (518) 869-5247 or

Thursday, Nov. 19, 7-9 pm

Theme: Stories of Thanksgiving

Turkish Community Center, 291 Broadway, Menands

Host: Veysel Ucan

Especially thankful for someone in your life this Thanksgiving? Like to tell of your gratefulness for a "graced happening"or a special experience in your spiritual or everyday life?

Members of Interfaith Story Circle are ready to receive and to celebrate your stories of such blessings.

Please join us and bring a friend. Newcomers, listeners, always welcome.

For more information call Bill Roylance at 518-485-9521.

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Monday, Dec. 7, 5:30-9 PM

Theme: Faith Stories that Support Racial Healing

Co-Sponsored by Friends4RacialJustice

Friends Meeting House, 727 Madison Avenue, Albany

5:30 Light supper- donations of food/cash welcome
6:30 Stories begin

Guest Storytellers from the Quaker, Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions

Parking at office building at 747 Madison Ave.

For more information, please contact Gert Johnson at (518) 374-0637

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Winter Lights - Wisdom Tales
An Inter-Generational Celebration of Story, Dance and Music

Sunday, Jan. 24, 2:00 – 4:00 PM

Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary (College of St. Rose)
959 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12203

Free and Open to the Public

All donations to benefit Children at the Well

For information, please contact Claire Nolan 518-209-6477

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Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7-9 PM

Theme: Lesson Stories

Co-Sponsored by the Interfaith Center of University at Albany

Interfaith Center at the University of Albany
1400 East University Drive (the campus perimeter road)
(for directions, see

Guest Storyteller: Stephanie Marie Fox telling” Stories of the Longhouse” from the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) tradition

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A report about this meeting

Feb. 24th’s IFSC sharing was grand! Derek James Healy and Olivia Fagan welcomed us warmly with a circle that grew as the evening progressed. Stephanie Marie Fox’s opening prayer embodied the gratitude the Haudenosaunee hold for all the animal and plant people, the sun, moon, stars, and landforms the Creator has offered us for tending. She used beautiful Mohawk phrases showing the musical quality of the language she’s learned over her years of learning from Tom Porter and the local Mohawk Community. She shared the “Road of Peace” symbol that many of the Haudenosaunee use to decorate flags and t-shirts. While not an official symbol, it shows how the 5 original Iroquois Confederated communities (later a sixth) span our state like a path of peace, inviting others, at both edges, to join. Stephanie’s telling of the Haudenosaunee creation story helped me see beautiful new aspects of it. Her humble telling reminded me what an awesome task it is to take in and pass on such multi-layered ancient tales. Every moment embodies a teaching, if we listen well.

Stephanie’s stories brought forth many life-lessons from the listeners. We heard insights and awakenings taken from experiences and sacred tales alike. Puzzling and challenging experiences took center stage. Several university students shared as well as regulars like Nancy Payne, Sandy Schumann, Mussarat Chaudry, and Anne Snyder. Laura Davis offered a cautionary poem about difference and sameness that brought a hearty laugh. Newcomers Diane, Liz, Abby, Eve, and a man named Sunfire contributed tales. It was fun to see Rishi Reddy who has started a Facebook page for C@W alumni! Many first-time listeners seemed happy for having found word of IFSC. Claire encouraged everyone to think about the faith communities (or gathering spaces) where we might hold future sessions. Zipporah’s improvised version of Esther’s tale reminded us Purim and spring are not so far off. She also mentioned a book/fund collection currently working to bring back Schenectady's Carver Community Center and its library. Look to the website soon for that information. At evening’s end, Stephanie reminded us of the importance of a circle’s closure. She emphasized again our gratitude for so many tales that honor our strong connection with the natural world and with each other. Hot tea and goodies were shared by all, thanks to our hosts. Stay tuned for details on our MARCH gathering, still in the planning.

Marni Gillard, Storyteller 518-381-9474

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 7-9 PM

Theme: Stories of Women Who Give Hope

Muslim Community Center of the Capital District
21 Lansing Rd N, Schenectady, NY 12304

Facilitator: Claire Nolan

Guest Storyteller: Adah Hetko

Children at the Well alumnus Adah Hetko will begin the evening by sharing the stories of three little known women from Jewish history who used their individual strengths and insight to bring hope to others. Please bring a story of a woman who gives hope, whether she is from legend, history, scripture or your very own family. Or just come to listen!

For information, please contact Claire Nolan 518 209.6477

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Wednesday, May 11; 7-9 PM; (6:30 tour of the sanctuary / Story Sharing at 7)

Theme: Love Your Fellow as You Would Love Yourself

Congregation Beth Israel (Modern Orthodox Jewish), 2195 Eastern Parkway, Schenectady

Guest Storyteller: Zipporah Harris

For more information, please contact Gert Johnson 374-0637 .

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Tuesday, May 24; 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Theme: Youth Story Circle 2016

Congregation Ohav Shalom, 113 Krumkill Rd., Albany, NY 12208

Directions: Heading south on Rte. 85W, take the exit from Krumkill Road and turn right. Synagogue will be on the left in .02 miles. IGNORE the ROAD CLOSED sign - the road closes AFTER the entrance to the Synagogue.

Guest Storytellers: Children at the Well

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Thursday, June 16, 6:30 temple tour and presentation / 7-9 story sharing


Albany Hindu Temple Cultural Center, 450 Albany Shaker Rd. Albany, NY 12211

Guest Storytellers: Suman Joshi, Janaki Ramkumar, Gauri Mehta

Come listen to stories that embrace the divine feminine in the Hindu tradition and share stories that flow from your heart when you think of what the sacred feminine would represent in your spiritual tradition. Is it a saint or a mother figure that comes to mind? Or do qualities of love and compassion emerge ? Let the stories perfuse the evening with the joy of being!

Reminder: Listeners always joyfully welcomed.

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Read about our previous events: