The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable kicked off its annual interfaith events week Monday by announcing a desire to possibly extend its celebration to the entire month of February next year.

Elaine Emmi, a Quaker and the chair of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, said during a press conference in the downtown Marriott Hotel that there are so many events now, maybe it could be "Interfaith Month" in 2009.

The Roundtable also dedicated Interfaith Week 2008 to the memory of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Jan. 27.

"He did so much to foster interfaith," Emmi said. "We want to make sure his memory is kept alive."

Emmi said President Hinckley leaves a legacy of "building new bridges to people of all faiths."

During his 90th birthday celebration in June 2000 and again during a Pioneer Day Commemoration Concert in July 2001 in the Conference Center, President Hinckley counseled church members, particularly in Utah, to respect and befriend those of other faiths.

The Roundtable highlighted this comment by President Hinckley: "This city and state have now become the home of many people of great diversity in their backgrounds, beliefs and religious persuasions," he said during the 2001 holiday gathering. "I plead with our people to welcome them, to befriend them, to mingle with them, to associate with them in the promulgation of good causes. We are all sons and daughters of God."

Besides honoring the interfaith work by President Hinckley, the Roundtable also honored six persons who have been instrumental in interfaith efforts, including:

• Scott W. Hansen, special counsel to area nonprofit organizations — including the Roundtable.

• Albert C. Jones, publisher of The Diversity Times newspaper.

• John Kesler, founder and director of the Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community.

• Carrie Moore, religion reporter for the Deseret Morning News.

• Scott Parker, longtime community representative of the LDS Public Affairs office.

• Elise Lazar, organizer of the Salt Lake Diversity Dinners.

Interfaith Week was organized to commemorate the spirit of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and runs through Feb. 10 this year.

Climax of the week will be the "Interfaith Music Tribute to the Human Spirit" at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. The event is free and open to the public.

A longtime favorite of Utahns, this concert will include musicians, drummers, dancers, and singers from the Buddhist, Jewish, First Nation, Quaker, Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths who will share their unique religious traditions.

For more information, visit utahfaiths.org.


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