Christian Pastors Joseph Walker, Walter Scott Thomas Join Other Faith Leaders In Praising Oprah Winfrey’s New “Belief” TV Series



Guests Included Pastor Rob Bell, Devon Franklin, Marianne Williamson, Dr. Serene Jones, Dr. James Perkins, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Imam Mohamed Magid, Suhag Shukla, Dr. Rajwant Singh and More

“Belief” Premieres on OWN October 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Oprah Winfrey hosted over 100 faith and spiritual leaders for a special advance screening of the upcoming landmark television series “Belief,” which explores faith and spirituality around the world, airing seven consecutive nights October 18-24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.  The screening and dinner brought together a diverse group of some of the world’s most prominent faith leaders and cultural influencers to preview the “Belief” series, which explores the uniqueness of individual faith traditions and examines the threads of common humanity that bind us together.

The evening began with a screening of the first two episodes at the Riviera Theatre in Santa Barbara, California followed by dinner and conversation at Winfrey’s home.  Dr. Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary, led the evening with an interfaith blessing before dinner followed by a breaking bread ceremony with Dr. James Perkins, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, president of T’RUAH – The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Imam Mohamed Magid, president emeritus of the Islamic Society of North America, Suhag Shukla, executive director of the Hindu American Foundation and Dr. Rajwant Singh, founder and chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education.

Additional guests included Devon Franklin (preacher/producer), Jonathan Greenblatt (National Director of the Anti-Defamation League), India.Arie (recording artist), Bishop Joseph Walker (Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International), Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Maria Shriver, Marianne Williamson, Mark Nepo, Michele Norris (journalist), Jim Winkler (National Council of Churches), Reza Aslan (religious scholar), Rev. Gabriel Salguero (National Latino Evangelical Coalition), Pastor Rob Bell, Valarie Kaur (Sikh and interfaith leader), Bishop Walter Scott Thomas (New Psalmist Baptist Church) and more.  Joshua DuBois and Values Partnerships worked with OWN to organize the screening and dinner and connect “Belief” to the faith community.

Faith leaders took to social media to share their thoughts on the series:

Bishop Joseph Walker, Senior Pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Mega-Church in Nashville, TN

“Prepare yourself for an experience of a lifetime. @Oprah@OWNTV have produced a series that will ignite a much needed conversation about tolerance, faith and love.  As a faith leader I was changed forever. As a theologian I am reminded of what Soren Kierkegaard said ‘every mental act is composed of doubt and belief, but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief that sustains thought and holds the world together.’ World get ready. It will be an October experience to remember.”

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, President of T’ruah, Rabbis for Human Rights

An amazing night watching premiere of @Oprah #belief series with other religious leaders. Overwhelmed by powerful stories of faith.

Bishop Walter Scott Thomas, Senior Pastor of New Psalmist Baptist Church

Encouraging everyone to see #Belief starting in October on OWN!! God speaks to the world through faith and this will bless all people everywhere!

Event attendees also remarked:

Rev. Welton Gaddy, President Emeritus of Interfaith Alliance

“Religion has been receiving a lot of criticism lately.  I want to thank the producers of ‘Belief.’  Never have I been prouder to identify myself as a religious person.”

Najeeba Syeed-Miller, Professor at Claremont School of Theology

“After seeing BELIEF, I am finally able to tell my children, ‘here’s why mommy is a peacemaker. This series is a gift – it shows the beauty of my own tradition and the spirit of peace that binds us together.”

Valarie Kaur, Sikh and interfaith leader

“Oprah’s cinematically stunning new ‘Belief’ series captures the true nature of divine love, and offers viewers the spiritual strength to keep walking the path of Gandhi, Heschel, and King.”


Seven Night Television Event Premieres Sunday, October 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Oprah Winfrey presents “Belief,” a landmark television event exploring humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves.  This groundbreaking original series invites viewers to witness some of the world’s most fascinating spiritual journeys through the eyes of the believers.  Traveling to the far reaches of world, and to places cameras have rarely been, “Belief” searches the origins of diverse faiths and the heart of what really matters.  From the epic to the intimate, webbed throughout each hour are stories of people on spiritual journeys, taking them to sacred spaces, including: the largest peaceful gathering in the history of the world as a group of believers seek redemption along the banks of a holy river; a free climber on the side of a mountain who believes there is no greater power than just being present as he climbs without rope; inside the ceremonies of the past as a 21st century woman seeks to find a miracle cure using ancient ceremonial treatments; the quiet of the night as a culture seeks to hang on to its 50,000 year-old history by searching the stars for insight to share with future generations; and, a courtroom and prison where a grieving mother must grapple with forgiveness as she comes face-to-face with her son’s killer.  These stories and others will all lead us to ask: “What do you believe?”  “Belief” is co-produced by the award-winning production companies Harpo Studios and part2 pictures.  Executive producers are Oprah Winfrey, Sheri Salata, Jon Sinclair, David Shadrack Smith, Greg Henry and Kim Woodard.

SOURCE: TV by the Numbers
Dani Dixon