In June of 1994, some twenty-five local leaders came together to consider using a UNISON model, “United Now In Serving Our Neighbors,” as a means of organizing religious congregations for social ministry. Those present that day were from a wide variety of religious traditions, many meeting each other for the first time. What emerged over the next few months was not a community organizing model but rather an interfaith dialogue model.
By February of 1995, the Ann Arbor Interfaith Alliance was formed with a vision statement that focused on building bridges of understanding and friendship. Dialogue would become the means of both learning about each other and learning from each other.
Under the leadership of Michail Curro, Director, and Rev. Harvey Guthrie, chairperson, the AAIA developed a core of about twenty congregations, two dialogue groups, an annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration, an Earth Day Statement with an accompanying environmental service project, the hosting of Dr. Hans Kung, the issuing of a statement condemning the burning of Black churches in the south, the shaping of a response to a KKK visit to Ann Arbor and a written constitution and bylaws.
In the winter of 1998, the AAIA hired Rev. George Lambrides as its Executive Director and soon became affiliated with The National Conference for Community and Justice. Modeling itself after the Detroit Round Table, the Alliance soon changed its name to the Interfaith Round Table of Washtenaw County.
Since 1998, new programs have been added such as the Annual Interfaith Youth Retreat, an Interfaith Adult Retreat, Interfaith Fundraising Dinners, an interfaith trip to Israel, interfaith services for prayer and meditation that have focused on places of war and conflict around the world, and many daytime and evening forums on a broad variety of topics and subject material. Active congregations now number 35, with attendance at the day forums at about 20-30 and community programs ranging from 20-300.
A 9 to 12 member Coordinating Committee has become the working group for current and future Round Table programs. Over the years the leadership group has helped to expand both budget and program diversity, some of the most recent being Sacred Storytelling, Divine Language of Music, Faces of Faith and Places of faith.
In the winter of 2011, George Lambrides was joined by Susan King, both who now serve as Co-Directors. Under their leadership the Round Table continues to be the primary organization in the community that focused solely on providing spaces for deeper dialogues on current spiritual/religious issues and relationship-building for those both inside and outside traditional faith traditions.