20th Anniversary of Celebration of Cultures

On July 13, 1996 the first Celebration of Cultures event brought to Scarritt Bennett Center approximately 2000 people and 41 different cultural and/or ethnic groups with their music, dance, demonstrations, food, or other presentations. The celebration was widely promoted throughout the region; gifts and donations of $22,257 were received; over 200 volunteers worked on the day of the event; and planning took months and involved staff and volunteers. The honorary chairs were Tipper Gore, wife of the Vice-President of the United States and Dr. Henry Foster, expert on teen health from Meharry Medical College.

Carolyn Oehler then Executive Director of the Center wrote in Arches that fall that the Celebration of Cultures success did not imply that our work of “justice and reconciliation and the eradication of racism” was done. Just getting diverse people together is not enough, but it is an important beginning. It is “only as we get to know and respect each other across the boundaries that divide us can we overcome the fear and hostility that difference and diversity seem to generate in us…Scarritt Bennett Center has a role to play in providing space and opportunity for us to experience each other across the boundaries that divide us…We have taken a position to work with others for the eradication of racism and being an agent of reconciliation.

The celebration continued to grow through the years, and when it became too demanding for the Center to host, plan and manage, a partnership was formed with Metro Parks and the event moved to Centennial Park. Today it is under the leadership of the Metro Human Relations Commission. Scarritt Bennett Center continues to have a booth at the event each year.

This year as part of the 20th anniversary celebration, the Center and Nashville Cooperation Circle of  United Religions Initiative are sponsoring an interfaith worship service in Wightman Chapel at 5:00-6:00 pm on Friday, September 30. This service with the theme “May Peace Prevail on Earth” will have representatives of eight different religions share from their sacred texts words and music regarding the need for world peace. We realize that a gathering of religions, willing to work together  is important as we try to find peace in our community, nation and the world.

Come and join us on September 30, 2016


Joyce SohlJoyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, and quarterly retreats and art exhibits.