The original organization, the Connecticut Committee for Interreligious Understanding, was founded in 1994 for the purpose of organizing a program and worship service in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. The Committee continued to exist thereafter because the participants at that event enthusiastically endorsed the idea of ongoing dialogue and cooperation in providing an effective voice in public life on issues of interreligious concern.
Encouraged by a second successful conference in 1997 and another in 1998, the Committee continued to speak out on issues of concern to all religious communities and sought to provide resources and speakers to religious communities, schools, and community organizations.
The Committee’s Mission Statement included the following language – “The Connecticut Committee for Interreligious Understanding welcomes the increasing religious diversity in our society and recognizes the need for dialogue and interaction among participants of all religions in order to promote mutual respect.
We foster interreligious understanding and act against ignorance, intolerance, and violence through activities such as public statements, conferences and seminars, publications of resources and lists of resource persons, and study and dialogue groups.”
In order to provide more organizational structure and to be enabled to seek added funding support, the Committee was renamed the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding and was incorporated under the laws of the State of Connecticut on April 30, 2003. In turn, CCIU sought and was granted tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service on December 10, 2003.
In its early years the Committee sponsored several interreligious conferences and programs for the general public, featuring such speakers as the late Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr. and Jonathan Schell. More recently, Dr. Harvey Cox, author and Professor at Harvard Divinity School, spoke at a major Pubic Forum.
Since incorporation, CCIU has continued to expand its program offerings, reaching increasing numbers of people throughout Greater Hartford and beyond through a variety of activities, programs, and events. Among these have been multiple facilitated tours of places of worship; major conferences on “Conversations With Our Neighbors of Other Religions: How Faith Shapes Our Lives”; Celebrations of the Sacred in Song, Dance, Recitation, and Chant”; and an ongoing series of “Dialogue Luncheons” in conjunction with Hartford Seminary