June, 1994 — 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.
February,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 Catholic theologian, 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.
January, 1998 — The AAIA hired Rev. George Lambrides as its Executive Director and soon became affiliated with The National Conference for Community and Justice based in Detroit. 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 were added such as the Interfaith Youth Retreat, an Interfaith Adult Retreat, Interfaith Fundraising Dinners, an interfaith trip to Israel, interfaith services for prayer and meditation that were 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 numbered 35, with attendance at the day forums at about 20-30 and community programs ranging from 20-300.
A 9-12 member Coordinating Committee became 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, most notably Sacred Storytelling, Divine Language of Music, Faces of Faith and Places of faith.
January, 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.
June, 2012 — The IRT worked with the New Center of Ann Arbor and came away with some short term and longer term goals. Our Coordinating Committee would become a Board and would divide itself into three working committees. We also began to re-frame our mission statement about the phrase “helping to create a culture of understanding and inclusion.”
2014 — This was the year for celebrating our 20th anniversary, and we did it with excitement and enthusiasm in being able to look back a 20 years of interfaith engagement and to look forward to changes and new initiatives. Over the next couple of years, we moved ahead with hosting our first Tastes of Faith, several Conversation Cafes, bold statements dealing with the LGBTQ community, local support for the Jewish and Muslim communities and support for those impacted by recent terror attacks.
2017 — Several classes and courses on interfaith and communication issues were offered to the community. This was the year that we hosted our first annual Children’s Choir Concert with participation of four choirs from Jewish, Episcopalian, Unitarian Universalist and Hindu traditions. Financially, we have become more and more sustainable and more and more individuals and congregations have chosen to support this work. The following winter we offered our first Faces of Faith for high school students.
2019 — In the winter of this year, both George and Susan announced to the Board that they would be retiring in September of this year. Much has been accomplished under their leadership, and now is the time to look ahead and envision what the IRT will look like in the coming decade.