Our Vision and Mission

Vision: “The Vision of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio is to be a significant force and model of multifaith collaboration by addressing critical issues that meet regional needs and by enriching the cultural fabric of the area”

Mission: “It is the Mission of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio to provide community leadership and facilitate programs that draw together diverse faiths and foster mutual respect, friendship and cooperation in service to the region”

Covenant: “I vow to consciously grow in the understanding and compassion that will encourage me to live peaceably with all of my neighbors”

Our History

The MultiFaith Council of NW Ohio was founded by Woody and Judy Trautman and an initial Board of Directors in 2001. It became an official non-profit in 2003. It has been a largely volunteer organization.

We seek mutual respect and understanding among all faith traditions, through overlapping strands of education, fellowship, and community service.

We believe that we need to work together to realize our shared humanity.

Since our launch we have had well over 200 education events, 16 banquets, and many small group encounters. We have active MultiFaith Men and Women’s Groups. Early on we built 6 MultiFaith Habitat for Humanity homes. We have an active MultiFaith GROWs program to encourage community gardening.

The MultiFaith Council of NW Ohio [MFC] started with interfaith programs organized by Woody Trautman in about 2000. These were programs of the Interracial Religious Coalition [IRC]. The Rev. Ed Heilman facilitated two 8 week courses on World Religions, offered to the community with both afternoon and evening sessions. These courses were attended by over 275 people. An interfaith banquet held at the Hindu Temple of Toledo, with table displays, multicultural entertainment, keynote speaker Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, and wonderful vegetarian food, was attended by an overwhelming 400+ people.

In 2000, the first interfaith Habitat for Humanity Build in the nation, the ‘Holy Toledo Build’ joined Muslims, Christians and Jews. This Build and a subsequent quad-faith Build with Baha’is inspired Woody to propose a truly MultiFaith Build with a dozen faith traditions building together. Judy joined the team in 2002 to join the Rev. Ed Heilman in organizing team-building workshops preceding the Build.

In January 2003, in the midst of preparations for the second banquet, the first MultiFaith Build, and the Trautmans’ MultiFaith wedding, IRC voted to spin off the interfaith/multifaith activities into its own organization. In July 2003 MFC held organization meetings to develop a vision, mission, and covenant. The founding committee developed a board, constitution, and by-laws and obtained non-profit status. MFC joined the North American Interfaith Network [NAIN] in 2003. Early association with the Rev. Dirk Ficca, then Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, provided MFC with developmental support. In 2015 the Parliament awarded MFC grant for social media and youth work.

MFC has completed six MultiFaith Builds with Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity, each bringing together 10-12 faith orientations to provide affordable housing for six families with 22 children.

The next outreach program was a study of faith-based environmental ecology and a several- year informal association with Toledo GROWs to help support faith-based community gardens.

MFC served on the steering committee of Erase the Hate, a community coalition to combat racism and other discrimination. As part of this steering committee, MFC sponsored five years of Erase the Hate Youth Contests in Video, Poetry, and Posters with concluding Youth Festivals. WGTE, The Blade, Toledo Museum of Art; and the Toledo University of Toledo collaborated in these projects. Mrs. Trautman chaired Erase the Hate for four years.

In 2008, Mrs. Trautman, as Communications Chair for NAIN, became acquainted with Karen Armstrong’s landmark TED talk in which she invited the world’s faith leaders to contribute to a Charter for Compassion. Quickly after the unveiling of the resultant Charter, Seattle declared itself the first Compassionate City. MFC started an initiative to become the first Compassionate Region. A Heroes of Compassion plaque was inaugurated which honors untold individuals and organizations that do exemplary compassionate action.

In 2014, Greater Toledo and NW Ohio was officially designated as the 39th Compassionate City and first Compassionate Region. The Mayor, Toledo City Council, the Lucas County

Commissioners signed the Charter for Compassion at Government Center. Letters of support were offered by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments and the University of Toledo. A Compassion Convention was held at Seagate Convention Center with about 90 organizations doing compassionate action. The organizations were placed in sectors of like efforts, in order to foster collaboration. At the MultiFaith Banquet that weekend, Tom Williams of Louisville, welcomed us into the Compassionate City network which now comprises over 400 global cities. We continue to showcase exemplary compassionate action with our excellent data gathered during the Compassion Games. Yearly Compassion Forums focus on critical local issues requiring compassion.

Seventeen Annual Banquets have been held at the Hindu Temple of Toledo [2002&2011], Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim [2003], the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo [2004 & 2017], St. George Orthodox Cathedral OCA [2005], First Church of God: Genesis Dreamplex [2006], Collingwood Presbyterian Church [2007], Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral [2008], Congregation B’nai Israel [2009], Masjid Saad Foundation [2010], the Franciscan Center at Lourdes University [2012-15], Ahlul Bayt Center of Toledo [2016], and St. George’s Antiochian Cathedral [2018].

The Council has offered over 100 educational dialogs, discussions, forums, workshops, and films. It also facilitates annual MultiFaith family picnics, Peace Day Celebrations, Clergy/Faith Leader Breakfasts to honor World Interfaith Harmony Week, and smaller fellowship gatherings. The Men’s Group has been active for over ten years, with monthly discussions and quarterly service projects. An active Women’s Group and a Youth Discussion group have also formed.

In 2016, Founder Woody Trautman passed away at age 96. The council continues his legacy.

In 2017, Sara Tarana Jobin, then Resident Director of the Toledo Symphony, proposed that we offer monthly Universal Worship Services. Judy Trautman was ordained in 2002 to offer these services, but had only done a few in educational settings. The services are based on a Sufi mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan. They offer readings and artistic expression from six to eight faith traditions. Now, in the second year, the Services have become a wonderful way to learn about each other in a deeper way. Lauraine Carpenter has continued to organize the music. We are so fortunate in this community of engaged diversity to be able to offer authentic voices in the Services.

Over the years, we have had a few hate incidents. MFC has been able to contribute to events to show solidarity and the unity that this community stands for. Recently a Solidarity Response Team has been formed.

In 2016, MFC contracted with an Administrative Assistant, Crystal Taylor. And our busy Compassion Advisor David Longacre receives a small stipend. The MultiFaith Council remains largely a lay-led and volunteer-based organization. It is supported primarily by individual and organizational donations and sponsorships.

Following a Strategic Planning Retreat in 2017, a Structures Committee did a major revise of the By-Laws to include term limits and succession plans.

Our Staff Members

Jennifer Vasquez
Jennifer VasquezExecutive Director
Jennifer Vasquez began her role as part-time Executive Director on January 1, 2023. She is grateful for this opportunity to lead such a diverse organization. The MFC has a solid foundation of relationships and appreciation of diversity that has been built by the hard work of Judy and Woody Trautman and so many other volunteer leaders.
Jennifer comes to us with a Bachelor’s in Special Education from BGSU, a Master of Arts in Religion (focus on Diaconal Ministry and Christian Education) from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in South Carolina, and a Doctor of Ministry degree (focus on Christian Education) from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Thanks to her husband’s service in the Marine Corps and the Air Force, she has lived in different regions of the United States and in Okinawa, Japan, and has been involved with a variety of ecumenical and interfaith communities. In addition to working part-time for the MFC, she serves as Director of Christian Education at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Maumee, Ohio. Jennifer, her husband, and their three teenage children reside in Holland, Ohio.
Crystal Taylor
Crystal TaylorAdministrative Assistant
Crystal Taylor has been with the MultiFaith Council of NW Ohio since January 2016 when she became the organization’s first contracted staff member. Her title is Administrative Assistant, but she works with the Board of Directors and members in various ways including fund development, public relations, graphic design, board training, and strategic planning. Crystal owns Crystal Clear Communications, LLC (www.AskCrystalTaylor.com) a business and nonprofit development strategy firm where she helps businesses scale and nonprofits serve more people.

In her free time, Crystal enjoys hosting small dinner parties, gardening, and traveling. She loves spending time with her friends and family; including her two sons, their wives, and her granddaughter Summer Mae.

John Irwin
John IrwinAccountant
John joined the MFC in January 2021 as our Bookkeeper, after our friend David Dibling was no longer able to commit to the position. Since John joined us, we have implemented a number of enhancements to our record-keeping and financial practices. John is a valuable member of the finance committee, where he provides us with great insight and wisdom. John is semi-retired but spends a lot of his time helping other organizations like the MFC to maintain excellent records. John and his wife Marlene reside in Maumee, Ohio.

2024 Board Members

Lauraine Carpenter
Lauraine CarpenterBoard Chair
Lauraine Carpenter received her Bachelor of Music Education from Ithaca College, and her Master of Arts in Performance at New York University. She was principal trumpet of the Toledo Symphony from 1998-2022 and still maintains a private teaching studio.
Lauraine was ordained as a Cherag (Reverend) from the Inayatiyya Order of Sufi’s in 2021 and is an active participant in the Universal Worship Services. Lauraine is a recent graduate of the Music for Healing and Transition program and is a Certified Music Practitioner on Native American Flute, and currently is employed by the Corewell Health System in Dearborn, Michigan.
Dipti VyasVice-Chair
Karen Christie
Karen ChristieSecretary
Karen Christie is a Registered Nurse and is now retired from active employment. I am a long time member of the First Unitarian Church of Toledo and have served as a Board member in the past. Currently I am involved in many different volunteer activities including Mentoring in Toledo Public Schools through Partners in Education, volunteering on Wednesday mornings at ToledoGrows, the Caring Circle at First Unitarian Church (assisting members and friends who are going through difficult health issues) and I am currently facilitating Flowing Waters Sangha, a meditation group in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, along with a MultiFaith Meditation that meets on Zoom on Tuesday evenings.
Joe Zielinski
Joe ZielinskiTreasurer
Joe Zielinski became involved with the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio following the third annual MFC banquet. “I was immediately and profoundly impressed with the mission and vision of the MFC, and the stated vow to live peacefully with all of my neighbors.” Joe has been an active member of the Men’s Group since its inception and considers the relationships he has built there and throughout the Council as key to his continued spiritual and personal development. Joe has been the Vice Chair of the Council for several years and is currently
serving as Treasurer and member of the Finance Committee, helping to ensure that MFC maintains a sound financial footing into the future to continue its incredible impact on our Compassionate Community.
Diane Christopherson
Diane ChristophersonMember At Large
The Rev. Dr. Diane Christopherson is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and board certified interfaith chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains. She has been actively involved in multifaith relations and collaborations for much of her adult life. Beginning in 1997, she was a member of the Association of Religious Counselors at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, co-facilitating interfaith dialogues and activities, including programs for school-aged youth and adults. 2000-2002 she taught courses on Racial & Cultural Minorities at Eastern Michigan University and has planned and led service-learning opportunities for youth and adults in the U.S., Honduras, Haiti, and Mexico. Diane has been an activist with PICO-California (“People + Faith + Love = Power”), Isaiah MN (“Building a just and abundant Minnesota through faith in action”), Interfaith Power and light (“Putting faith into action for a safe climate”) and other multifaith partnerships working for the common good. Diane has attended multiple World Council of Churches Assemblies and gatherings of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Mike Linehan
Mike LinehanMember At Large
Daniel Pearlman
Daniel PearlmanMember At Large
Daniel Pearlman is the Vice President of Community and Government Relations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo. Originally from Cleveland, he is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Political Science and Judaic Studies, and earned his M.A. in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before relocating to Greater Toledo, Daniel worked at nonprofit organizations in Boston, Israel, and Pittsburgh.

The Multifaith Council is Funded in Part By:

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