On the morning of September 11, 2001 terrorists commandeered four jetliners destined for the West Coast of the United States. Two crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and one crashed into the rural countryside of Western Pennsylvania. Thousands of people from many nations and all walks of life were killed. The world was shocked into disbelief and grief over the hateful attacks, the incredible devastation, and the tragic loss of life. In the wake of such horrific events, life took on a new hue; for many life would change, never to be the same again.
Among the victims on Flight 11, the first to crash into the World Trade Center, was Al Filipov, a beloved and dedicated member of Trinitarian Congregational Church and husband of Loretta Filipov, who would later become an active member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. Al was an engineer by training, but his family, friends, and fellow parishioners knew him as a family man, a true servant of the church, a human rights activist, painter, inventor, and a storyteller. He sought out the best in people and cared passionately about the world in its beauty and pain. Al earnestly believed in the power of the individual to make a positive difference in life. To his memory as well as to the fullness and faithfulness of his vision we dedicate the Al Filipov Peace & Justice Forum.
The Al Filipov Peace & Justice Forum was established to articulate those issues about which Al cared deeply and to demonstrate how one person can make a profound impact on the lives of those in his or her community. The goal of the Forum is to invite a distinguished speaker and person of faith; someone deeply committed to the prophetic tradition and the compassionate caring of our Judeo-Christian roots, to speak/preach on issues of peace and justice from a faith perspective.
Guest speakers have included : The Rev. Dr. David R. Smock, Director of the United States Institute of Peace, Religion and Peacemaking Initiative (2005); Loung Ung, who escaped Cambodia in 1980 by boat, spent five months in a refugee camp in Thailand before resettling in Vermont, and is the author of “And First They Killed My Father” as well as a national spokesperson for the Campaign For A Landmine Free World (2004); Jim Wallis, executive director and editor-in-chief of Sojourners in Washington, D.C., and author of “God’s Politics” (2003); and Paul Loeb, author of the book, “Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time,” described as “the how-to book for activism at the turn of the century.” (2002).