The INTERFAITH COALITION OF GREATER UTICA, INC. is an organization of diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious traditions seeking to develop relationships built upon mutual respect for our diversity, while embracing our common humanity. Common humanity includes values such as compassion, love, justice, understanding, and inclusion. We work to create an even better place to live through education, dialogue and service.

In 2012, leaders from a local congregation asked “Do we have an Interfaith Council here in the Utica Area?”  The answer was “no”; and, so with a prayer, pad, pen and yellow pages – the Utica Inter-Faith Council was called into being by Dallas Jones, Robert Malczyk, and Gerald Lombardo.

The first meetings in September and October of 2012 demonstrated a remarkable interest and energy on behalf of local leaders from all religious traditions. From early meetings at the Moose River Restaurant there emerged a faithful group of congregation and community leaders who began meeting regularly with Robert Malczyk as the Founding Chairman.

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L to R Dallas Jones, Bob Umidi, Bob Malczyk

The objectives were simple, yet powerful: to gather the leaders of local churches, congregations, and faith based organizations in an attempt to build personal relationships, get the leaders of these groups to know one and other, and work toward serving our community, and build a foundation upon which to stand together, come what may.

Together we can help each other and together we can do more to serve our community and our neighbors. Together we are stronger. This was one of the simple foundational truths.

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An environment was created where each person could learn about the others practices, beliefs, ideals, faith …and differences would be more than tolerated – other faiths would be embraced. Moreover, we committed to learn about one another first hand, from each other as we visited temples, mosques, churches, and faith based organizations across the city.

In 2013, Reverend Dr. Robert Umidi accepted the role to lead the growing, dedicated group. We met several times a month and hosted a luncheon every month (look around the site for photos, stories or write us for more information). Then, as now, we visited remarkable spaces, and shared great experiences.


Rabbi Cassi Kail (center) w/ Father Joe Salerno (left) at Temple Emanu-El

Later a Co-Chair – Rabbi Cassi Kail was selected to lead the group with Bob Umidi and we became The Interfaith Project of Utica.

The group at that time included: Lucy Ijams, Mark Caruana, S Brent Plate, Barbara Groves, Polly Ginsberg, Jeff McArn, Paul Lehmann, Sunithi Bajekal – and later Jill Farnham-US, Jeanne Kumbalek, Eve Stevens, Mahadevi Ramakrishnan, Mike Buckley and Ken Pollard.

In 2013, Ed Paparella offered a merger with an established 501c3 organization from years past: Builders Coalition. More than a merger it was a gift, a recognition of good energy and hard work. Our then core group was elected as the board of directors, which brought the official name change to The Interfaith Coalition of Greater Utica, Inc.

The Interfaith Coalition of Greater Utica

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