In polarizing times, Lynnwood-based interfaith center promotes message of hope

    Rev. Terry Kyllo of the Treacy Levine Center.

    The first episode of Challenge 2.0 airs on July 22 at 7:30 a.m. on MeTV.

    In these times of division and polarization, Lynnwood’s Treacy Levine Center is pushing back on that narrative with a message of hope, compassion and action.

    “When we fail to have compassion for others, including those we disagree with, we lose our humanity,” said Rev. Terry Kyllo, a Lutheran pastor and executive director of the center. “Don’t  mistake that for passivity. Jesus said to love your enemy, which is not so much about warm feelings as working for their well-being.”

    What is required is a willingness to listen, to value human beings, and to work on behalf of the most vulnerable among us, he said.

    The center’s roots lie in a pioneering television interfaith dialogue program, “Challenge,” begun in 1960, responding to widespread fear among Americans about the prospect of a Catholic President Kennedy. As an outgrowth of that dialogue, participants Rabbi Raphael Levine and Father William Treacy founded the Treacy Levine Center in 1966, under its original name, Camp Brotherhood. Now that the camp has sold to Camp Korey, a free venue for kids facing serious medical issues, the Treacy Levine Center is refocusing its mission on our common humanity through media, events and encouraging personal action.

    The organization is dedicated to those ends as a community resource. Its latest outreach is a new TV series that debuts this Sunday, July 22.

    Former KING-TV meterologist Jeff Renner, right, interviewing guests during the taping of Challenge 2.0.

    Jeff Renner, former meteorologist at KING 5 News and a Treacy Levine Center board member, hosts Challenge 2.0, a series of 24 episodes featuring panelists from many faith traditions, as well as community leaders. Other voices are welcomed, including atheists and agnostics.

    “It is our hope that through Challenge 2.0 and other programs at the center we can sow the seeds of dialogue, respect and hope for our world,” said Kyllo. “These topics are very relevant to today’s public discourse and illustrate the pain, doubt and fear that so many of us are enduring.”

    As a follow up, the center will sponsor pragmatic workshops called “Take Up the Challenge,” for people wishing to explore how they can take action. “We’ll teach methodologies on how to have these kinds of difficult conversations,” Kyllo said. “As a culture, we’re moving into smaller and smaller tribes. But we don’t have to live that way.”

    The first program of Challenge 2.0 airs on July 22 at 7:30 a.m. on MeTV. Once aired, the show will also be available on public access by Seattle Colleges Cable Television (SCCtv) and online at

    — By Connie McDougall

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