Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square

Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square is a broad and diverse coalition of Dallas’ faith leaders, dedicated to service, hope, and a shared vision for our North Texas community. We are united to create and support a community of respect and compassion for all; we share in the mission of The Thanks-Giving Foundation to heal divisions and enhance mutual understanding.

Vision Statement

To foster and sustain the multi-faith fabric of the Dallas Community through:

  • Relationship building
  • Community education
  • Celebrating diversity
  • Providing support and solidarity

Learn more about Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square

Send us an email:

Coordinating Committee:

Dr. Rev. Michael Waters, Rabbi Nancy Kasten, Imam Omar Suleiman (Co-Chairs)
  • Plan and call regular meetings of the group as a whole.
  • Listen to concerns of faith leaders by: a) formulating a common response to a relevant crisis, and b) coordinating this with the civil authorities (primarily the Mayor’s office) and disseminating it through the networks identified by the Crisis Management Task Force.
  • Relate to the Thanks-Giving Foundation’s Interfaith Council.

Crisis Management Committee:

Almas Muscatwalla, Chris Slaughter (Co-Chairs)

Develop and maintain a communication structure reaching out to the media on one hand, and faith leaders on the other.

Civic Engagement Committee:

Dr. Rev Michael Waters (Chair)

Identify opportunities for engagement by religious groups with civic issues in order to disseminate that information to religious groups. (A continuation of the Childhood and Poverty Task Force)

Relationship Building and New Membership Committee:

Rabbi Nancy Kasten (Chair)

Engage a broadening circle of religious organizations through both personal contact and events.

Communication Committee:

Omar Suleiman (Chair)

  • Communicate the mission/message of FFD with congregations, the general public, and political leaders
  • Create an atmosphere where the city can stand firm in belief and stand firmly together
  • Create an ether of hospitality, belonging, compassion


Roster of Participants



Raphael Adebayo Catholic Church of the Resurrection
Anu Appaji Chinmaya Mission DFW
Fr. Eugene Azorji Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Rev. Nicole Bates, Pastor Westminster Presbyterian Church
Rev. Rachel Baughman, Senior Pastor Oak Lawn United Methodist Church
Stephanie Berry, Outreach Coordinator Highland Park United Methodist Church
Pravrajika Brahmaprana, Resident Minister Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of North Texas
James Buchanan, Senior Minister Unity of Dallas Church
Bishop Edward J. Burns The Catholic Diocese of Dallas
Rev. John Bustard King of Glory Lutheran Church
Pastor Richie Butler St. Paul United Methodist Church
Pastor Bryan Carter, Senior Pastor Concord Church
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, Senior Pastor Cathedral of Hope
Pastor Matt Chandler The Village Church
Fr. Christopher Constantinides Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Pastor Pollo Corral Love In Motion
Mark Davis, Senior Pastor Park Cities Presbyterian Church
Bryan Dunagan, Senior Pastor Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Anita Zusman Eddy Jewish Community Relations Council
Elsa Espinoza The Catholic Diocese of Dallas
Dr. Tony Evans Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Rev. Wendy Fenn
Dr. Eric Folkerth Northhaven United Methodist Church
Rev. Karen Fry Center for Spiritual Living
Rev. Rudy Garcia, Rector Catherdral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Matt Gaston
Rabbi William Gershon Congregation Shearith Israel
Mark Gilman, Secretary Dallas Baha’i Center
Rev. RJ Holt, Minister of Community Transformation Park Cities Baptist Church
Samina Hooda Ismaili Jamatkhana, Plano, Texas
Rev. Dr. Anna Hosemann-Butler Oak Lawn United Methodist Church
Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of Global Theological Education Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology
Pastor JB Jackson Dallas Indian United Methodist Church
Bishop T.D. Jakes The Potter’s House
Dr. Daniel Kanter First Unitarian Church of Dallas
Rabbi Nancy Kasten
Kraig Kelly, Director of Evangelism and Church Planting Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Peggy Larney Dallas Indian United Methodist Church
Saïd Majdi Islamic Association of North Texas — Dallas Central Mosque
Dr. George Mason Wilshire Baptist Church
The Very Rev. Dr. Neal Michell, Rector St. Matthews Cathedral
Rev. Amy Moore John Calvin Presbyterian Church
Almas Muscatwalla, Interfaith Council Chair Thanks-Giving Square / The Thanks-Giving Foundation
Imam Shpendim Nadzaku Islamic Association of North Texas — Dallas Central Mosque
Hillary Owen, Associate Director of Outreach Highland Park United Methodist Church
Rabbi Andrew Marc Paley, Senior Rabbi Temple Shalom
Jon Reid International Buddhist Progress Society
Dr. Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor NorthWood Christian
Mark Romney, President The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Heidi Schwerdtfeger-Jones Christ Lutheran Church
Dr. Paul Seelman, Executive Pastor Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church
Iman Khalid Shaheed Majid Al Islam
Imam Zia ul Haque Sheikh Islamic Center of Irving
Rev. R. Casey Shobe, Rector Episcopal Church of Transfiguration
Harmohinderjit Singh Gurdwara Sikh Temple of North America
Dr. Douglas Skinner, Senior Pastor Northway Christian Church
Chris Slaughter, CEO & President Thanks-Giving Square / The Thanks-Giving Foundation
Rev. Gregg Alan Smith Oak Lawn United Methodist Church
Rabbi David Stern Temple Emanu-El Dallas
Dr. Andy Stoker, Senior Minister First United Methodist Church
Bishop George Sumner The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas
Harbhajan Singh Virdee Gurdwara Nishkam Seva — Irving
Ryan Waller Incarnation Church
Dr. Rev. Michael W. Waters Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. Dr. Petra Weldes Center for Spiritual Living
Rev. Erin Wyma Cathedral of Hope
Msgr. Donald Zimmerman Christ the King Catholic Church

Committee Members

Coordinating Committee:

Anu Appaji
RJ Holt
Robert Hunt
Daniel Kanter
Nancy Kasten
Almas Muscatwalla
Andrew Paley
Chris Slaughter
Gregg Alan Smith
Andy Stoker
Omar Suleiman
Michael Waters

Crisis Management Committee:

James Buchanan
Eric Folkerth
RJ Holt
Nancy Kasten
Said Majdi
Andrew Paley
Omar Suleiman
Neil Thomas
Petra Welder

Civic Engagement Committee:

Nicole Bates
Bryan Carter
Pollo Corrall
Eric Folkerth
Rudy  Garcia
RJ Holt
Daniel Kanter
Almas Muscatwalla
Andrew Paley
Chris Slaughter
Gregg Alan Smith
Andy Stoker
Neil Thomas
Petra Weldes

Relationship Building and New Membership Committee:

Robert Hunt
Peggy Larney
Saïd Majdi
Almas Muscatwalla
Mark Romney
Chris Slaughter
Andy Stoker
Harbhajan Singh Virdee

Communication Committee:

James Buchanan
Wendy Fenn
Amy Moore
Almas Muscatwalla
Casey Shobe
Chris Slaughter
Erin Wyma

Rev. Wendy Fenn

My faith tells me that God loves all people and that Christ's life on earth illustrated that inclusive love in day to day life and in very concrete ways. Faith Forward Dallas is forging a way to encourage all faiths to come together in peace — by going more deeply into one's own faith. There, perhaps, we will begin to see that the God of all is present and teaching us through those who see life differently than we do.

Rabbi Andrew M. Paley

Senior Rabbi, Temple Shalom

Of the hundreds of God’s commandments found in the Hebrew Bible, the one that is repeated more often than all the others is the commandment to remember that “…we were strangers in a strange land.” This command has historically been understood by the Jewish community to underscore the importance of making sure that no one ever feels like a stranger in a strange land; that no one feels abandoned, left out, on the periphery, ignored or otherwise alienated from their community, their neighbors, their country nor from God. Joining together with faith leaders across the city of Dallas who share this belief and who work tirelessly to promote a spirit of gratitude, thanksgiving, cooperation, peace and justice is what makes Thanks-Giving Square and Faith Forward Dallas so meaningful and special. It is an honor to be a part of this important work.

Sandra J. Galindo


Like so many others, in the beginning, I wasn’t sure what to expect but accepted because of the atmosphere of racial discrimination in my community. So many times, we overlook our faith and how it shapes our views on race, ethnicity, and culture. As a Native American heir to this country, it continues to be difficult to share our concerns and beliefs. Being offered “a place at the table” to share fears, hopes, and challenges and engage in courageous conversations about race, ethnicity, and poverty is another door opened.

Dr. Andy Stoker

Senior Minister, First United Methodist Church

I am a Christian and I am a member of Faith Forward Dallas because I believe that God is present when people who share compassion with justice work for the benefit of all, especially “the least of these.“

Rev. Amy Moore

John Calvin Presbyterian Church

I believe that underneath all of our differences and fears we share the commonality of humanity made in the image of God. Learning to really listen and be kind, learning to live the Golden Rule as we honor our diversity, we can clear paths toward a more compassionate and hospitable community. Faith Forward Dallas is a means to invite people into this possibility.

Events, Programs & Participation

Upcoming Events & Programs

  • Faith Forward Dallas Meeting | February 15, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. | Thanks-Giving Square

Past Events & Programs

  • Community Tree of Remembrance Service | December 21, 2016
  • Community Tree of Remembrance Service | December 1, 2016
  • UN Day Celebration | October 26, 2016
  • Compassion Walk September 21, 2016
  • Keeping the Faith: An Interfaith Dialogue on Women & Religion in North Texas | September 6, 2016
  • Dallas Remembers: Charleston — One Year Later | June 17, 2016
  • Allen Brooks Remembrance Day | March 2016

See full details on our past event page.


  • Dr. Rev. Michael W. Waters: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s “Moving Forward Together: Less Talk, More Action” solutions-based town hall forum | July 17, 2016
  • Rabbi Andrew Paley, Imam Omar Suleiman: Dallas police memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center | July 13, 2016
  • Rev. Dr. Joe Clifford, Bishop TD Jakes, Rabbi David Stern, Rev. Dr. Andy Stoker, Imam Omar Suleiman: Multi-faith prayer vigil at Thanks-Giving Square | July 8, 2016
  • Mayor’s Iftar Dinner event at Dallas City Hall | June 21, 2016
  • Dallas to Orlando, a Vigil for Those Lost on 6/12 — Prayer Vigil & Press Conference | June 13, 2016
  • Rev. Dr. Joe Clifford, Rabbi Andrew Paley: National Day of Prayer Luncheon | May 6, 2016
  • Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s 21st Annual Prayer Breakfast | February 23, 2016

Media & Statements

Eddie Bernice Johnson Prayer Breakfast | February 12, 2018 | Rabbi Nancy Kasten

The Hebrew Bible is very clear. Plenty and wellbeing do not come from hard work or good fortune, but from the source of all, the Holy One, Creator of all that was and is and will be. Our blessings come from God, and in return, we are asked to be faithful stewards of those blessings, using them to create the kind of society that God would wish to inhabit. 

In his book God in Search of Man, the philosopher and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel states ”There is no reverence for God without reverence for man (sic). Love of man(sic) is the way to the love of God.” Each of our traditions is clear in its own way: Our love for God is hollow if we do not exhibit it in our daily treatment of our fellow human beings. 

In Biblical times the sabbatical year was observed, not only for purposes of sustainable agriculture, but out of a profound commitment and respect for human life. Every seven years there was a remission of debt, in order to prevent systemic poverty from taking root and destroying communal integrity and wellbeing. The sabbatical year was a reset button, a measure to prevent inequities from building up and compounding one another. It was a tangible way to demonstrate love of human beings, above and beyond the love of material possessions. It was a way for us to make God’s power of redemption manifest in the world on a regular basis, so that we wouldn’t forget that it’s potential is there for us, not just every seven years, but in every single moment of every single day.

In today’s world, we desperately need a reset button. We need to find our version of a sabbatical year. Inequities in housing, education, jobs, transportation, public health, and public safety have formed a Gordian knot in which no one area can be addressed without addressing the others. It will take bold and brave thinking, and a willingness to give up some of what we think is rightfully ours, in order to begin to unravel that knot. And before we can even begin, we have to loosen our own knots; of pain, of disappointment, of distrust and disillusionment, in order to leave behind our obsession with scarcity and open ourselves up to the possibilities of abundance. 

We must reclaim our ancient knowledge that corporations are not people. Only people are people. And each person is created in God’s image, and deserves to be treated that way, all the time. We are not allowed to pay anyone less than they rightfully earn, or withhold medical treatment from them, or close their schools, or deprive them of safe drinking water, or let them freeze to death on the street, or incarcerate them without due process. We are not allowed to say “We’re sorry, but we just can’t figure it out, even if we don’t yet see a way to figure it out. 

In the story of the Exodus, the last three plagues visited upon the Egyptians before Pharoah releases the Israelites from bondage are the plagues of locusts, darkness, and the slaying of the first born. All of these plagues are actually plagues of darkness. The locusts are said to be so thick that “the land was darkened” (10:15.) The darkness of the plague of darkness is “so thick it can be touched” (10:21.) And the slaying of the first bornoccurs at the darkest time of night, just before the dawn. 

The plagues come as a result of hardened hearts. With the first seven plaguesPharoah hardens his own heart. And with the last three, God hardens Pharaohs heart, as if to make sure he and we get the message: when hearts are hardened and human suffering is not addressed, darkness descends. Wecan only hope to keep that darkness at bay if we work together to keep our hearts tender. We can and must model what openheartedness and an attitude of abundance can do. We can and must search together for rays of light to loosen the Gordian knot that keeps so many in bondageOn this day of prayer we pray for redemption, and we also pray for the humility, the creativity, the strength, the generosity and the courage to be agents of redemption, joining our unique and varied gifts in such a way that systems of oppression become systems of opportunity, and God’s light shines brightly enough to drive out the darkness.

Eddie Bernice Johnson Prayer Breakfast | February 12, 2018 | The Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas (Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ)

God of many names, known to us individually and personally. As people of faith, spanning many traditions and experiences, we come this day to pray for unity and to call upon the best that we know of You to be made real in us.

In a world of division and discrimination, of divisive actions and disenfranchised communities, on this 23rd annual prayer breakfast, we know that we have not lined up to what we know is good and holy. We know that we can do better and that You challenge us, because of our faith, to bring down the systems of oppression that have brought us to this place.

God — we are bold enough, this day, to call them by their names: Racism; Ageism; Sexism; White Privilege; Misogyny; Homophobia; Patriarchy; Transphobia.

God, it feels as though we live with a lot of fear, when You call us to live with a lot of love – Perfect Love – Your love – casts out our fear.

Increase our capacity to love our neighbor: Muslim, Hindu, B’hai, Jewish, Athiest; HIV+; Queer; Immigrant and undocumented neighbor; Addicted; Refugee; Our imprisoned; Transgender.

Give us a sense of what it means when we say – “But by the grace of God.”

We give thanks for the leadership of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. We thank you that unity, diversity and inclusion have been values that drive her. By Your grace, encourage her to make these values ever present in the halls and on the floor of the Senate as she speaks truth to power.

Thank you for her radical inclusion of “other” as she represents us all in Washington, DC.

Bless us now, with the power of shalom, salaam, peace as we work together for the cause of unity and harmony, and equality.

And so it is – Amen and Ameen.

“A Prayer for the Service of Light and Remembrance: Remembering our Homeless Neighbors” at First United Methodist Church Dallas | November 6, 2016 | LINK

  • “Remarks by the President at Memorial Service for Fallen Dallas Police Officers.” | July 12, 2016 | LINK

  • “Former Beth Am rabbi speaks at Dallas memorial.” The Miami Herald | July 17, 2016 | LINK

  • “The Bright Heart of Dallas.” Patheos | July 9, 2016 | LINK

  • “‘Does It Always Have to Be That Hatred Forces Us To Love?’: Thanks-Giving Square, 7/8/16.” D Magazine FrontBurner | July 8, 2016 | LINK

  • “Baptist Pastors Stand in Solidarity With Muslims at Interfaith Events.” EthicsDaily | December 17, 2015 | LINK


The Spark

May 3, 2015: Two attackers were killed before they could enter the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas. After this event, individuals from the Thanks-Giving Foundation and its Interfaith Council realized there was no well-organized group of faith leaders to provide a coordinated message to the community after a civic emergency.

Conversations began with Dr. Robert Hunt at Southern Methodist University. Upon his recommendation, we connected with Rev. Bob Roberts of Northwood Church in Keller — leader of the most robust interfaith ministry in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. With the guidance of Hunt and Roberts, we clarified the nature and purpose of a new group to be formed.

Invitation to the Multi-Faith Task Force

A Year of Beginning

Between June 2015 and August 2015, representatives from Thanks-Giving Square met individually with faith leaders from across the Dallas region. Each was personally invited to participate in a new multi-faith task force initiative. On September 10, the initiative was shared with Vana Hammond (Chief of Community in Dallas Mayor Rawling’s office) with the idea that a multi-faith task force could become a liaison between the Mayor’s office and faith groups during times of crisis.

The first meeting, “One Community, Many Faiths” occurred on September 16, 2015 with 24 clergy attending from regional congregations. After a dialogue facilitated by Rev. Bob Roberts, the group came to an agreement that a multi-faith task force is a valid and necessary next step. The task force — which later chose the name “Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square” — became active through planning meetings and began responding to community needs immediately.

  • October 9 & 10, 2015: Armed protests occur at several local mosques.
  • November 17, 2015: Rabbi Andrew Paley hosts an all-day planning retreat at Temple Shalom, with Dr. Robert Hunt and Rev. Bob Roberts facilitating.
  • December 13, 2015: In response to protests against mosques in Dallas a statement on behalf of the Multi-Faith Task Force is created, signed and released to the media and at a press conference organized by the Islamic Association of North Texas.
  • March 4, 2016: The Multi-Faith Task Force participates in the Allen Brooks remembrance and provides a statement to the press on the event.
  • April 2, 2016: A protest organized by BAIR occurs at Mosque #48 in South Dallas. Multi-Faith Task Force leaders are there. Two days later, on the 48th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the task force — along with collaborating interfaith organizations — makes a joint statement to the press at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center denouncing the cowardly armed protest of the mosque.
  • April 27, 2016: With the guidance of Ruth Fitzgibbons and Linda Osgood from the Richards Group, the name “Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square” is adopted. The tag line, “Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice” is added shortly after.
  • June 12, 2016: Representatives of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square speak at the press conference and at the vigil after the shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. They present the joint statement from many faith leaders at the Cathedral of Hope Resource Center.
  • June 17, 2016: Thanks-Giving Square hosts “Dallas Remembers Charleston One Year Later: A Celebration of Unity and Faith”
  • June 21, 2016: Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square leaders participate in the Mayor’s Iftar Dinner at Dallas City Hall.
  • July 8, 2016: After the police shootings in Dallas, Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square leaders participate in the Mayor’s Multi-Faith Prayer Vigil at Thanks-Giving Square.
  • July 12, 2016: Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square leaders are seated with the Dallas City Council at the Dallas police memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Faith Forward Dallas leads prayers on stage prior to President Obama’s remarks.
  • August 15, 2016: Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square meets with the Dallas Arts District, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, and Compassionate DFW regarding promoting compassion and art.
  • August 17, 2016: The Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square Coordinating Committee conducts a strategic planning meeting at Temple Shalom.
  • October 26, 2016: The United Nations Association Dallas Chapter recognizes the collaboration of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings at the 71st UN day Celebration.