Media Statements

Solidarity with the Jewish Community

The Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida stands in solidarity with our local Jewish communities as they face antisemitic messages broadcasted this past weekend, October 28-30, 2022, on a Jacksonville overpass and projected on to TIAA Bank Stadium and a high rise downtown.

As an organization, we take joy each year to partner with the Jacksonville Jewish Center during Ramadan, to bring Jews, Muslims, and diverse community members together for fellowship. We are fortunate to have the insightful voices of Jewish board members and panelists at our events. We celebrate over a century of Jewish life and thriving across our region. Their light is far brighter than those who spread hate.

These incidents belong to a rising tide of antisemitism which is a cause for great concern. Messages of hate like these can lead to widening discrimination and violence. Therefore, it is important that the city of Jacksonville speak clearly, in its leadership and citizenry, against this and all forms of antisemitism.

The Interfaith Center calls on people of faith and no faith to pledge their commitment against antisemitism. Ordinary ways of doing this include:

  • Reaching out to Jewish friends and neighbors to offer your support and ask how they are doing;
  • Asking our places of worship and clergy to speak clearly against these incidents and address antisemitism;
  • Educating ourselves and our organizations, through those who do this work, like Jacksonville’s Jewish Family and Community Services and their Holocaust education program.

We seek to make Northeast Florida a beacon of religious freedom and diversity, where neighbors meet each other with mutual curiosity. The Interfaith Center also calls on Jacksonville’s city leaders to address incidents like these in a timely fashion and with a united front in support of our Jewish citizens.

The Board of the Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida

Yildirim Sivar, Chair
Joey McKinnon
Sukhbir Singh
Matt Hartley
Leah Palestrant
Dr. Lucinda Mosher
Dr. Parvez Ahmed
Pastor Regina Jackson
Khwaja Shaik
Rebekah McLeod Hutto, Executive Director

October 31, 2022

New Executive Director of the ICNEFL

The Board of the Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida is pleased to announce the hiring of our new Executive Director, Rev. Rebekah McLeod Hutto. Rev. Hutto is a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), having previously served Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. In NYC, she was active in organizing Interfaith programs, including children’s programming at the 92nd St. Y, Muslim Sunday School development with the Cordoba House, and Interfaith Bible studies with Park Avenue Synagogue. After moving to Jacksonville in 2020, Rev. Hutto has been active with the local Daughters of Abraham Book Club.

Rev. Hutto is also an accomplished author, having written several children’s books, “The Day God Made Church” and “Paul and His Friends”, as well as contributing to various curricula. She has been a keynoter at the Massanetta Springs Middle School Conference, and served in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on teams, committees and boards supporting a seminary, campus ministry, and local presbytery governing body.

Rev. Hutto is a Master of Divinity graduate from Duke University Divinity School and received an undergraduate degree from Wofford College. Her husband, Rev. Dr. B.J. Hutto, is the senior minister at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church. They have two children, Hannah Ruth (12) and Elijah (7).

We are excited for all the gifts and vision Rev. Hutto brings to this work. The Board of the Interfaith Center looks forward to working together with her to make our region a beacon of interfaith cooperation, through fostering mutual understanding among diverse faiths and people of religion and non-religious identity in Northeast Florida.

As Rev. Hutto begins her work, Emma Amos will be moving on from our organization. We extend our gratitude to Emma, who has served the Interfaith Center for the last five years, helping us establish partnerships and programs in the region and keeping us steady through rebranding and the pandemic. We wish her the best in all that comes next.

The Board of the Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida

Yildirim Sivar, Chair
Joey McKinnon
Sukhbir Singh
Matt Hartley
Leah Palestrant
Dr. Lucinda Mosher
Dr. Parvez Ahmed
Pastor Regina Jackson
Khwaja Shaik

Join us in welcoming Rebekah by contributing to the future work of our center. The Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida is funded by donations and we appreciate the communities support.



Prayer & Peace Vigil for Ukraine

Dr. Parvez Ahmed Ukraine Vigil March 14

The Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida were honored to join with Together Jax to assist with the organization of this event.

March 14, 2022


Statement on Renaming Schools

The Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida joins the Northside Coalition, Take ‘Em Down Jax, 904ward, and many other organizations and individuals in our city calling for a name change for schools named for Confederate leaders. We should not celebrate leaders who fought to preserve the enslavement of millions of African-Americans, nor maintain school names which were instituted during the era of Jim Crow to send a racist message. Instead, we should honor the Students and Employees of Color at these schools by ending the harm these names inflict.

Our board includes Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, and Non-religious members. As people of diverse faith and beliefs, we call together on values like:

  • Repentance, which means we should turn from our ways when we have done wrong
  • Compassion, which means we should feel the hurt of those who have been harmed
  • Justice, which means struggling to restore those who have been wronged
  • Transformation, which means our community can change if we do the work and even those who oppose that change are invited to change their minds

We invite people of faith and indeed all citizens of Jacksonville to embrace these values and support changing school names. We invite faith leaders and communities to make their voices heard for change. The Confederate school names must be changed.   

How can you take action today? Write or Call, Mobilize, and Vote! Everyone can email or call our school board member and let them know the names should be changed. You can find your school board member’s contact here:

You can put a yard sign in your yard. You can protest with Northside Coalition and Take ‘Em Down Jax on Tuesdays at 4:30 at the School Board meeting. 

If you live in the areas of these schools, whether you have children in the schools or not, you can vote for the change. You call follow the progress here: 

Jacksonville Public Education Fund if you would like to contribute to this effort. JPEF

And this should only be the beginning of our commitments to dismantling White Supremacy and systemic racism. We look to organizations like those mentioned above, like LIFT JAX, which is seeking to eradicate generational poverty on the Eastside and across our city. We call on faith communities to commit resources to this work, as we will do. Making reparation and establishing a more just Jacksonville will be a long but healing process if we undertake it. Then we will be a bold city where all can truly thrive.   

April 9, 2021

Statement in Solidarity with Asian American/Pacific Islander Communities | 2021

The Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida stands in solidarity and grief with Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in the face of the recent alarming rise in anti-Asian attacks, particularly the murders in Atlanta this week of eight people, six of whom were Asian women. We mourn with those who mourn for all the victims of this crime, including Delaina Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.

This follows on the heels of over a year of escalation of attacks against Asian Americans, and shameful instances of racist speech from former President Trump and other leaders who stoked the flames of hate. Sadly, this trend is part of a historical prejudice against Asian peoples in the United States. We must listen to our AAPI neighbors when they tell us that these attacks have grown worse, but racist treatment and language has always been a part of their experience and our national history. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to the internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II down to this day, white supremacy has done violence to our AAPI neighbors. We must fight to overturn this legacy.

We honor the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander people, who number among our board members, partners, and participants, and whose diverse cultures, traditions, and religions enrich our region and nation. The Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida is committed to highlighting AAPI religious and wisdom traditions and the riches they have to offer, and giving the microphone to AAPI people of faith to share their experience.

In a resolute spirit of solidarity against hate, committed to the values of hospitality and mutual curiosity, the Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida recommits ourselves in support for Asian American/Pacific Islander communities and invites people of good will throughout our region to join us. 

Florida Times Union Article: .…/jacksonville…/7106490002/

March 18, 2021

Inauguration COVID Memorial | 2021

COVID-19 has taken an unimaginable number of lives this year.  Thank you to Joey McKinnon: Faith In Public Life,  Rev. RL Gundy: Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, St. Luke’s Community, State Representative Tracie Davis, Avery Blake Garner, Matt Hartley & more for their healing words. For the moment of unity yesterday at Mount Sinai Baptist Church to honor those we’ve lost by illuminating our community last night at @bideninaugural’s #COVIDMemorial. May the prayers by, Rev. RL Gundy  and Dr. Parvez bring more peace and healing.

January 20, 2021

Statement on Beirut Bombing | 2020

Our hearts go out to the people of Beirut, Lebanon after the horrific explosion, which took the lives of over a hundred people, injured thousands, and inflicted untold damage on the city. 

Beirut is a beautiful city, home to people of many religions and cultures. We know they will rise in strength. But we grieve with them now. 

We lift our prayers and we encourage people of goodwill to give as they are able to organizations serving those affected. Here are three organizations doing so:  

Lebanese Red Cross:  

Islamic Relief: 

Impact Lebanon: 

Board of Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida

August 6, 2020

Times Union Article; Follow the golden rule

Guest column: Faith leaders call on neighbors to remember the golden rule.

As faith leaders, we offer our comfort and encouragement to the people of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida as we face the first local cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, as well as to our neighbors and family around the nation and world facing this crisis.

This trying time will call on all of us to learn new ways of being good neighbors.

To be good neighbors, we will take concrete actions of love based on guidance from public health experts. Loving our neighbor as ourselves and caring for the sick is integral to our religious traditions.

As this virus spreads rapidly and impacts many more people than the seasonal flu, especially people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems, there are personal and communal ways we can show love.

It is wise to continue personal hygiene measures, such as keeping social distance and washing hands. Additionally, it is important to immediately self-quarantine if one is sick. Communally, many of our faith communities are already canceling in-person worship and other gatherings to protect vulnerable congregants and help stem the spread of the virus.

To be good neighbors, we should act compassionately toward economically vulnerable people in our community who may not have adequate supplies, employment or child care during the coming weeks of cancellations and social distancing.

We should support children who may not have meals because schools are closed. We should support small businesses and gig workers who will be affected by events being canceled and public gatherings being limited.

Compassion is a common calling across our traditions. Our faith communities, while taking care not to risk spreading infection, can rise to the occasion of being helpers to all who have need.

To be good neighbors, we will build community in new and old ways. We will reach out to each other with phone calls, texts, video-conferencing, live streaming worship and novel ways of being together at a distance, even as we share the ageless encouragements of love and hope.

We will comfort each other as we face our fears. We will even find ways to celebrate and take joy. Physical isolation does not have to split us apart as a human family.

With hope, resilience and with a commitment to careful community, we will face the trial of coronavirus together. We can do this by being good neighbors to each other in Northeast Florida and beyond.


Matt Hartley, Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida   Rev. Kyle Reese, OneJax   Imam M. Bilal Malik, Islamic Center of North East Florida

Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner, Jacksonville Jewish Center   Padma Murlidharan, Board Chair, Hindu Society of North East Florida

Rev. Emily Knight, Riverside Park United Methodist Church   Rev. Regina Jackson, Restoration of Truth Ministries   Sukhbir Singh, Sikh Society of North East Florida

Baha’i Faith, St. Johns County  Parvez Ahmed, Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida  Basma Alawee, Community Organizer

Rev. Holly Inglis, Palms Presbyterian Church  Rev. Laurie Furr-Vancini, Palms Presbyterian Church  Joey McKinnon, Faith in Public Life

Sel Buyuksarac, Community Leader  Adbul-Hai Dawud Bajwa Thomas, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Orlando Chapter  Rev. Susan H. Rogers, The Well at Springfield

Ranna Abdul, Arab American Community Center   Rev. Avery Garner, St. Luke’s Community Church  Yildirim Sivar, Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida

Ismail Ulukaya, Istanbul Cultural Center  Rev. Britt Hester, Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church  Lucinda Mosher, NeighborFaith Consultancy

Rev. Sarah Locke, Jacksonville Campus Ministry

March 18, 2020

Condolences on Sri Lankan Easter Sunday Bombing

It is with heavy hearts and so much sadness that yet again we are condemning acts of violence and terrorism against those who were peacefully participating in hoy day celebrations of their faith. The Sri Lankan church and hotel bombings on Easter Sunday was intended to bring terror during a day of remembrance and faith. This attack was not a sole gunman, but a larger well organized group of militants who have struck fear into so many Sri Lankan families. We mourn for the 200 plus people killed and hope our prayers support the 450 more who were injured in numerous blasts in several cities. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families that will always be affected by this senseless violence. Attacks on any house of worship attacks freedom of religion and there should be no place for this violence in any society. The message of interfaith understanding is to support and love people of all faiths and stand by them during tragedy.

April 2019

Atlantic Institute

Atlantic Institute’s Statement on Mass Shooting in New Zealand

Dear Friends of Atlantic Institute,

Thank you so much for the meaningful, emotion-filled, and inspiring words expressed to us and the Muslim community in Jacksonville, after the horrific shootings at the mosques in Christchurch New Zealand. We are appreciative to have such caring friends showing solidarity to the Muslim community and the interfaith community in general. It is during these times the interfaith community shows its strength and resilience to stand up for truth and to stand against bigotry and xenophobia.

The Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville condemns the act of violence committed at two Mosques in New Zealand. We are horrified that so many people could be killed while peacefully praying at their place of worship. Our hearts and prayers go to the families and friends of those affected by this terrorist act. An attack on any house of worship is an attack on the freedom of religion and there is no place for this violence in any society. We call on the interfaith community to support and love people of all faiths and stand by them in this time of tragedy.

March, 2019

Atlantic Institute

Atlantic Institute’s Statement on Mass Shooting in Pittsburgh Synagogue

Our hearts are shattered by the attack on Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh today, where a man murdered at least 11 people and injured more in an act of religiously motivated violence. We grieve with the people of this congregation, and stand with our Jewish friends and neighbors in Jacksonville and around the world.

As an Interfaith community, we call on people of faith to take concrete actions to confront the scourges of anti-semitism and gun violence, which inflict hatred and death on our neighbors. No person should feel unsafe in their place of worship, or school, or grocery store. An attack on one house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship.

We are better together, as a people of diverse culture and religion. We call on our elected officials and all people of good conscience to rise to this higher standard of what America can be and to forsake any rhetoric which incites anti-semitism and bigotry of any form.”

October, 28 2018

Atlantic Institute

Building Bridges

Thanks to Folio Weekly for our Bouquet mention with Faith in Public Life for their Building Bridges to Protect Religious Minorities Convening.

August, 2017

Atlantic Institute

Travel Ban

Making America safe should always be a high priority for our government, and The Atlantic Institute supports actions taken by the US government to secure the safety of the people within its borders, provided they are constitutional and do not undermine our democratic values. We are however, concerned that recent action taken by the White House administration may be unnecessarily drastic and counterproductive to our national security and democratic goals.

Immigration and diversity have been the cornerstones of American society, since the first Pilgrims began arriving 400 years ago, creating a safe haven for those escaping persecution in Europe. Despite this integral tradition, the Trump administration has recently issued a temporary travel ban on seven Muslim majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. We stand with those in our community who are affected by this recent executive order.

We continue to believe that our partnerships with peoples around the world are paramount to our security and peace-building goals, and we support measures that strengthen our bonds with people around the world, rather than those which keep us divided. We remain confident that the American people and the government are able to overcome this recent seven nation travel & immigration ban. In the meantime, we urge our communities to continue to work together and respect one another, regardless of faith, culture, immigration status, or point of view.

The Atlantic Institute’s mission is to promote peace, understanding and friendship through interfaith and intercultural dialogue. As such, we offer our unwavering support for those who may be affected by or feel ostracized by these recent executive actions, and will continue to facilitate and join any effort to reconcile social and political tensions through respectful dialogue.

February, 2017

Atlantic Institute

Thanks to JSO and local FBI

Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville is grateful to local and federal law enforcement agencies for unfolding recently planned mass shooting at Islamic Center of North East Florida. As a community partner with many interfaith organizations in Jacksonville, we extend our thanks to JSO and local FBI. Atlantic Institute’s mission motivates us to work harder for an inclusive Jacksonville with our community partners. We believe faith leaders play a vital role in building bridges and spreading language of peace. It is most timely to remember St Francis of Assisi’s prayer when faced with hatred.

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.”

Alex Sivar
Board Chair
Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville

December, 2017

Atlantic Institute

Statement On San Bernardino Shooting

We, as the Atlantic Instutite, strongly condemn the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. We stand united with the people around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and offering our deepest condolences to the families.

We will honor the victims by strengthening our commitment to peace, tolerance and mutual respect.



The Atlantic Institute and its regional affiliates condemn the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino that has left so many innocent people dead and many more injured. The murder of civilians is immoral, barbaric, and in direct contravention of the major tenets of Islam. No grievance ever justifies such heinous, no cause is ever served by such actions and no grievance will ever get heard as a result of such actions. Vast majority of human beings, no matter what their religion or nationality, will always reject such wanton violence.

Islam recognizes that all life is sacred and anyone who takes the life of any innocent person is akin to killing all of humanity. The actions of groups or individuals engaged in acts of terror do not represent the faith or actions of the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide. A recent Gallup poll showed that 89 percent of Muslim Americans reject violent individual attacks on civilians as compared to 71 percent of Christians and 75 percent of Jews. Muslims are the least likely to justify attacks on civilians.

The dreadful acts of mass shootings, bombings, beheadings, etc. will never be condoned and will always be strongly deplored.

Terrorism is designed to strike fear in the hearts of people. Following Paris and San Bernardino, fear has gripped much of American society. It is useful to be reminded that the actions of any individual do not reflect upon others who happen to share that person’s faith or nationality or race. ISIS commits its action claiming to act in the name of Islam. However, an examination of the basic tenants of Islam and its practice by vast majority of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide shows that ISIS ideology and actions are outside the mainstream teachings of Islam.

We appeal to all of our fellow Americans of conscience to avoid stereotyping Muslims and stand steadfast against those voices who aim to spread fear and divisiveness. We unequivocally denounce ISIS and similar groups who are engaged in any form of terrorism. We condemn their murderous ideology and their brutal tactics. ISIS wants to divide the world between Muslims and non-Muslims. We want to stay united in the fellowship of our common humanity.

Atlantic Institute is a non-profit organization headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia whose goal is to facilitate dialogue and bridge cultures around the globe. Through a wide range of activities that bring local community members from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, we seek to proactively contribute to educational, cultural, social, and humanitarian issues in our community. We believe in the power of personal interaction and communicative dialogue as they are the best channels to build mutual understanding, trust, and harmony for a peaceful world.

(Atlanta, GA – 12/10/2015)


President and CEO