Interfaith Center of New York

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 28 October 2015.

Phone: 212-870-3515
The Very Rev. James Parks Morton founded the Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY) in 1997. Since then, ICNY has worked to build a network of collaboration among a broad range of New York religious leaders and communities – including Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Zoroastrians, members of Native American and African diaspora traditions, and others – as well as a number of leading civic institutions, including the New York State Unified Court System, the Center for Court Innovation, the Harlem Community Justice Center, the New York Public Library, CONNECT Faith, public and private K-12 schools, and graduate schools of social work. ICNY is led by a Board of Directors and currently has five full time staff members. The Rev. Chloe Breyer is ICNY’s current executive director and leads the board along with two co-chairs. ICNY’s founder, The Very Rev. James Parks Morton, whose pioneering interfaith work as Dean of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine led to the formation of ICNY, now serves as chair emeritus. ICNY is currently located in the Interchurch Center (nicknamed the “God Box”), an office building in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The Interchurch Center is also home to the National Council of the Churches of Christ in U.S.A, as well as to numerous other faith-based, interfaith, and non-profit organizations. Since the early 2000s, ICNY’s programming has focused on four areas: interfaith dialogue about social and civic issues, interfaith collaboration to address these issues, religious diversity education, and building an international interfaith community. In the late 1990s, ICNY’s work focused more on spiritual/theological dialogue and sacred arts programs, but in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (and subsequent waves of bigotry against local Muslim and Sikh communities) the organization refocused its mission, using interfaith and civic networks to address social justice issues and create social change. The biannual Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Retreat for Social Justice is ICNY’s longest-running program and brings together religious leaders to learn about social and civic issues. ICNY currently partners with the Harlem Community Justice Center to help young parolees as part of the Reentry Family and Faith Circles of Support program and, in recent years, the organization has also offered programs to train religious leaders in domestic violence prevention, and to foster the development of Catholic-Muslim social service partnerships. To facilitate interfaith dialogue, ICNY has also participated in programs like the “One New York, One Nation” campaign in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the New York Public Library’s “The 411 on Faith: Communities in Dialogue.” The Interfaith Center of New York offers religious diversity education programs for K-12 teachers, social workers, and students. The “Religious Worlds of New York” summer institute (a partnership with Union Theological Seminary, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities) brings teachers from all over the United States to New York City, for a three-week program that helps them teach more effectively about contemporary American religious diversity. ICNY also provides continuing education opportunities for social service and mental health care providers through its annual “Social Work and Religious Diversity” conference. For students in local schools, ICNY runs both one-time events as well as longer term programs. Some recent examples of ICNY’s one-time student events include “Free Speech and Hate Speech: Muslim and Jewish Perspectives on Liberty and Responsibility,” “Religious Pluralism and Interfaith Understanding,” “Muslim Community Life and Islamic Social Ethics,” and “Muslim Holidays and the New York Public Schools.” ICNY also recently completed its first “Learning Together Interfaith Youth Fellowship” program, which brought New York City high school students together between the months of March and June to learn, speak, read, and write about religious diversity in the New York City educational landscape. While most of ICNY’s programs operate at the local level, the organization also works internationally through its JPM International Visiting Fellows Sister Cities Program. In 2008 and 2009, ICNY researched interfaith efforts in cities such as Glasgow, London, Paris, Rotterdam, Frankfurt, and Barcelona and then hosted interfaith leaders from these cities in New York City, taking them to a variety of ICNY programs, such as the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Retreat for Social Justice conference, and organizing visits to religious centers and various cultural institutions around the city. In the years since then, members of the ICNY staff have visited Barcelona and Glasgow where they have taught and learned about interfaith work and educational strategies alongside other interfaith leaders. Taken together, ICNY’s programming in these four areas serves to reach its main goals of building relationships of mutual understanding and respect between New Yorkers and others from diverse faith backgrounds.