Stillwater News Press

October 27, 2010

Leaders discuss faith during annual dinner

By Andrew Adams

STILLWATER, Okla. — Sen. James Halligan encouraged community faith leaders to talk about their faith with others during the eighth annual Dialog and Friendship Dinner.

“We have to talk to each other or else we can have a calamity in this world,” the Stillwater Republican said. He served as the keynote speaker for the dinner Tuesday. The dinner also recognized two award recipients, Stillwater Police Chief Norman McNickle for public service and the Rev. Derrek Belase for community service.

Oklahoma State University Vice President Gary Clark welcomed guests to the dinner.

“We have so much more in common than we do in differences,” Clark said.

Asil Oztekin, president of the OSU Interfaith Dialog Student Association, also gave a welcoming address.

“We believe that the enemy of peace and harmony is not difference,” Oztekin said. “The enemy is the lack of knowledge about one another and lack of understanding these differences.”

Oztekin emphasized the importance of the event, and the importance of discussing faith with others.

“By coming together here, at one table, we can prove that this is a situation of great richness, with remarkable opportunities for mutual respect and understanding and for creating a society rooted in common values,” Oztekin said. “We can demonstrate to the society the idea that people can live together regardless of group, faith or ideology.”

The Institute of Interfaith Dialog recognized two community leaders for their contributions. The organization presented McNickle with the Public Service Award. Award presenters said that McNickle is a community leader who is involved in many different organizations and that he leads with integrity and compassion.

“I enjoy the discussions that we have here every year,” McNickle said about the event.

Belase, Highland Park United Methodist Church pastor, received the Community Service Award.

“I’m not committed to the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, but I’m committed to my faith and my faith leads me to dialog with those of other faiths,” he said. “Whatever faith we come from, it leads us to dialog. Each of us should be committed to our faith.”