CFI-Indiana Branch Report-2014-2015
Our center located on a heavily travelled pedestrian walk way (Canal Walk) in downtown Indianapolis is a billboard every day promoting CFI and Secular Values. We have signs and books in the window that everyone who passes by can see. We have a close knit community of members who attend events on a regular basis and we always welcome new people to stop in and join us. I think we are especially important to those just now leaving religion and looking for a community to join.
Coffee and Conversation is every Sunday morning officially from 10:00 am to noon. This is informal conversation where people sit around round tables and talk about whatever they want to. It is informal so people can come and go as they please. Several people will get into interesting conversations and stay all afternoon. It is not unusual for the last people to leave at 4:00 or so. This has been great for community building.
English as a New Language (ENL)-This is our best service project for the community. Our members are the volunteer tutors and we welcome people from all language backgrounds who are working to learn and/or improve their English speaking skills. Many of our students are people working and/or studying at the university across the street from our center (IUPUI) and the medical and law schools there. We have a play area with toys for the children and some bring children with them. Many great friendships have been formed among people from different countries on Saturday mornings and ethnic pitch-in lunches are sometimes held. Recently most of the students in the class have been from Japan and China.
Café Inquiry-This is a monthly science program with speakers usually professors and researchers at local universities. This year we have been fortunate to form a partnership with Central Indiana Science Outreach which was started by a group of graduate students at the Indiana University School of Medicine and IUPUI. They have been a great help in obtaining speakers for this series and also bringing in audience members.
Secular People of Color: Indianapolis—This was started by two African American young men as a Facebook page. They were looking for a place to meet for face-to-face meetings and I offered to let them meet at CFI-Indiana. They have had some really good discussions and though it is a small group it is growing and we are glad to have them at CFI-Indiana. They started with one meeting per month and are moving to two meetings per month.
Children’s Programs-We host a Girl Scout troop that meets once a month at CFI-Indiana. Our monthly family programs have kind of gone by the wayside for now due to lack of attendance. However, we had a very successful Arts and Science Day for Kids in April as we have done yearly for several years. Central Indiana Science Outreach was a great help with this also and provided five of the nine activities for the day. Approximately 50 children completed all of the activities and received a certificate for completing them.
Expanding into Other Parts of the State and Local Community
There are three meet ups a month in Madison, IN and one in Bloomington, IN. We also are holding meet ups at various locations in the Indianapolis area-Broad Ripple, Fountain Square, Northside, and Southside. These are at local restaurants or pubs where people can come together and enjoy a meal and conversation. We also have a monthly game night at CFI-Indiana.
Special Programs and Speakers
Annual Indiana Civic Day in February at Indiana State House with speakers on topics relevant to issues in Indiana. We partnered with the local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State for this program. Ron Lindsay was in town at spoke at this event.
Winter Solstice Dinner and Volunteer Recognition
This was a catered dinner for people to purchase tickets to and we honored our volunteers and gave our volunteer of the year award at this dinner.
Annual Major Donor Dinner
We treated our major donors to a catered dinner and had Martina Fern and Eddie Tabash as guests. Eddie spoke at the dinner.
Good News Club-The Good News Club is the child evangelism component of the larger network of religious right organizations. They target a city each year and 2015 it was Indianapolis. They hold Five Day Clubs in public places and work to start Bible clubs in public schools. Reba worked on getting press coverage to inform people about this group without much success but did write a blog that got circulated widely. Also, after discovering what public schools would be targeted, she wrote a letter to the superintendent of each of these school districts to make them aware of what this group.
Annual CFI-Indiana Picnic
This is a pitch-in picnic at a local State Park which is coming up on September 27.
Susan Sackett-Humanism in Star Trek-July
Katherine Stewart-The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children-coming up in September
Dan Barker-The Life Driven Purpose-coming up in November
Also various local authors.
Networking and Advocacy
Reba is the president of a twenty organization coalition (HAPA) and spent time opposing legislation involving reproductive rights. Also, she sat in on many hearings and went to several rallies involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Biggest Challenge: Fundraising.