The Parliament Blog

Religion and Women’s Dignity and Human Rights at the #UNCSW59

Reflections, Prayers and Remembrances at the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

by Phyllis Curott, Vice-Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Board of Trustees, Chairwoman of the Parliament Women’s Task Force

“Thank you for doing this – this is is just what we needed.” This was the reaction expressed, and what we had hoped for, as we concluded our women’s interfaith service organized by the Women’s Task Force and the Interfaith Center of New York as a special sponsored event for the 59th Session of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women.

The well-attended service at the Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations offered a chance for UNCSW attendees to gather and reflect, pray and meditate, share insights and strengthen hope, to offer their gratitude and honor our co-workers who have passed from this life.

A remarkable and diverse group of women religious leaders spoke: the Chaplain of the CCUN Chapel Rev. Dionne Boissiere opened the service with a warm welcome and was followed by former Trustee and founder and President of the International Academy for Transcultural Cooperation, Audrey Kitagawa who filled the sacred space with chanting before sharing reflections on Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai.

Kusumita Pedersen offered the historic and pressing context for the service, reading from the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”

To embrace the park, Grant Park,
with Ribbons
is to hold those gathered to hear the Dalai Lama,
is to hold those gathered together
after an event called The Parliament of the World’s Religions,
is to hold them within the Hope and Love of the stitches, paint strokes, weavings
of those who could not come.
To embrace the park, Grant Park, with Ribbons
is to send a message to those boats along the shore
those people walking on the hot sidewalks around the park,
is to send a message to those gathered inside the pieces of fabric
and those watching from a distance - to see and to know
that others from around this beautiful and tortured Earth
wait in Hope
pray with Love
that the event held within the Parliament of the World’s Religions
will grow beyond these few days in a place called Chicago
will grow to embrace the Earth
with the Hope
the prayers
the Love.
Shalom,
Justine Merritt | May 1993

She also honored the memory of several remarkable women including Tonya Frichner, founder of the American Indian Law Alliance and Advisor to the Women’s Task Force. Heartfelt and moving reflections were also shared by Indigenous leader Murial Borst, who worked closely with Tonya, Aisha al-Adawiya, founder and Chair of Women in Islam, Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, the Reverend Chloe Breyer, Episcopal priest and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York and Monica Willard, United Nations Representative of United Religions Initiative, who read a poem by Justine Merritt, founder of the Ribbon International Project to eliminate nuclear weapons that began with the 1993 Parliament in Chicago.

Dozens of women stood and shared, honored and remembered women who had inspired their lives and expressed why it was important for them to share their reflections. It was particularly moving that two young women from the Church of Latter Day Saints participated and expressed their commitment to supporting the Women’s Initiative and the Parliament by organizing homestays for visiting participants.

After the event, Kusumita Pedersen said, “It brought us together in a special way, strengthened us and we learned from each other. ‘Speaking from the heart’ is much needed, as many said and we proved. It also turned out to be entirely appropriate for the CSW.”

We are women of many faiths who have faith in women. And we have faith in what happens when women speak from their hearts. This is how we reclaim the heart of our humanity and we hope that you will join us in speaking from your heart at the Women’s Assembly beginning at 9 AM on October 15th, and during the Women’s Program Initiative throughout the Parliament from the evening of October 15th through October 19th, 2015.

There will be panels and presentations, workshops and conversations, and a Women’s Sacred Space available throughout the Parliament for spiritual gatherings, reflections, religious observances, prayers, meditations, rites and celebrations that express the great diversity, strength, wisdom and beauty of women’s spirits.

We invite you to share your reflections on what it means to be a woman of faith and what it means to have faith in women at #FaithInWomen

We invite you to submit a program proposal, spiritual or religious observance or celebration at: http://goo.gl/pWt2Ed

We invite you to join us at the Women’s Assembly on October 15 and the Women’s Program Initiative and the Parliament of the World’s Religions October 15 – 19.

With love and gratitude,
Phyllis Curott

 

 

Ms. Phyllis Curott

Phyllis Curott is an attorney, author and Wiccan priestess. An interfaith activist and advocate of religious liberties for minority faiths in the courts and media, Jane Magazine honored her as one of the Ten Gutsiest Women of the Year, New York Magazine described her as one of the “culture’s most intellectually cutting-edge thinkers,” and Beliefnet has featured her in their video series Preachers and Teachers. Curott is founder and president of the international Temple of Ara and president emerita of the Covenant of the Goddess.

5 Ways You Can Save Lives on World Water Day

Image Courtesy of World Bank Photo Collection

By Brian McLaren and Susan Barnett via On Faith

Water is the one symbol shared by all faiths, so it may be surprising to learn that this sacred gift can also be one of the deadliest things on earth.

Here are five things to know about water — and five simple ways you can make a difference:

1. Water is health.

Look no further than the Ebola crisis for a tragic reminder of just how difficult it is to contain disease without clean water. People in contact with the infected and deceased, especially family members in many villages, couldn’t even wash their hands.

The lack of access to safe water and sanitation causes 50 percent of under-nutrition and fills 50 percent of hospital beds in developing countries. The global water crisis is the leading cause of death of children under the age of five, killing more kids than malaria, AIDS, and TB combined.

Think about the billions of dollars spent fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria. Then realize that the absence of safe water and sanitation means immune-suppressed people living with HIV/AIDS must take their medication with dirty water — ,and no sanitation increases breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

What can you do?
Support WASH — WAter, Sanitation, and Hygiene. Every faith and denomination engages in global health and development work — and from farming and nutrition to maternal/child health and education, success relies on access to safe water and sanitation. Support your faith-based development organizations, and let them know that WASH needs to be a priority in all the good work they do.

2. Water is education.

More than half of all primary schools in developing countries don’t have adequate water, and nearly two-thirds lack adequate sanitation. That means students gets chronically sick and miss a lot of school. One third of school children suffer from intestinal worms from unsafe water.

Though we’re seeing an increasing focus on the importance of girls’ education, without water, many girls must skip classes to help their mothers carry heavy cans of water for their families, sometimes for miles every day. Many drop out of school entirely once they hit puberty because the lack of separate sanitation and washing facilities is humiliating.

The best way to turn a child into a dependent and impoverished adult is to deny her an education.

What can you do?
Get your kids involved. More than 400,000 students in 800 schools across the U.S. have already made a global impact working with H2O for Life. When a small village in Kenya told a schoolteacher that it was desperate for clean water, middle school teacher Patty Hall introduced the idea to her students in Minneapolis. After they learned about the global water crisis and their own water consumption, her class tried to raise a small amount of money to help the village school get water and sanitation. It turned out to be far easier than they thought — this village now has a permanent source of water all year round and H2O for Life was born.

Since 2007, students across the U.S. have supported over 600 WASH projects, helping over a quarter million students just like themselves — in Africa, India, the Caribbean, Central and South America. H2O for Life has all the free tools and support you’ll need.

3. Water is safety.

Without access to latrines, many women and girls dare to relieve themselves only under the cover of darkness. Their organs can be damaged and nighttime trips to secluded fields put them at nightly risk of violence and sexual assault.

What can you do?
In honor of World Water Day (March 22 each year) designate one spring week at your house of worship as “World Water Week.” Feel free to adapt A Sermon for World Water, and encourage your clergy to deliver it. Share it from pulpit to pew on your website and weekly bulletin.

Water doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Have fun — challenge your congregation to drop a coin in a bucket every time they flush the toilet or turn on the faucet. Faiths for Safe Water has free and fun ideas that help families lower water bills while helping raise funds for those without.

4. Water is equality.

Women and girls can spend up to 60 percent of each day walking to collect water, sometimes along desolate and unsafe paths. It’s a heavy, backbreaking burden that keeps women, families, and whole villages in poverty.

What can you do?
Have a child in Sunday school? Download a free faith-based curriculum that engages children in service learning around water and faith.

5. Water is peace

Peace cannot be achieved when some have plenty and others don’t have something as basic to life as water. Conversely, conflicts have been averted when access to water is negotiated. The world is facing a global water crisis, including in parts of the U.S., and it is only going to get worse without our intervention.

What can you do?
For faith leaders interested in lending your voice on behalf of water for all, please contact Faiths for Safe Water founder Susan Barnett at susankbarnett@gmail.com.

* * *

Our faith voices are the voices of hope. The global water crisis is going to affect us all. Who better to take the lead on behalf of all of God’s children than us?


Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, blogger, and networker. He began his career as a college English teacher and then spent more than 20 years as a pastor. He has written more than a dozen books, including “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?” and “We Make the Road by Walking.” He is an initiator with the Convergence Network.
Susan Barnett is a former award-winning network news producer; she continues to produce documentary films and is a strategic media and communications consultant to nonprofits, working at the nexus of media, the faith and moral voice, and social justice. She is founder of Faiths for Safe Water and Impact-Communications.

 

#FaithInWomen | The Parliament Celebrates the Interfaith Movement on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and the Parliament of the World’s Religions applauds the global interfaith movement that is celebrating women and girls all over the world who are at the heart of our religious and spiritual communities.

The Parliament has a proud history of pursuing the advancement of women in the world:

  • At the first Parliament in 1893, nineteen women speakers made women’s religious history when they addressed themes of religion and women from a racially and religiously diverse podium, when women rarely spoke in public settings.

  • The 1993 Parliament produced the profoundly influential Global Ethic enumerating the equality of  men and women.

  • At the 2009 Parliament, Jimmy Carter gave his groundbreaking speech on the responsibility of the world’s religions to affirm and uphold the human rights and dignity of women.

  • In 2012, the Parliament established it’s Women’s Task Force to lift the voices, perspectives, and influence of women in our movement.

The Parliament is committed to maximizing opportunities for women worldwide to be empowered agents of peace. When the next global generation of women measures our work for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world, the prominence of female voices will be a critical marker.  We commit to making it happen.  We are buoyed now by a growing women’s interfaith network and drawing on the theme of this year’s United Nations observance of International Women’s Day, “Empower Women, Empower Humanity: Picture it!”- we affirm the moral responsibility of the interfaith movement to protect, preserve, and promote the dignity and human rights of women.

This is how we reclaim the heart of our humanity.

Today, more than half of 2015 Parliament registrants are women, and key note speakers include women Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire and prominent religious leaders, scholars and activists like Karen Armstrong, Vandana Shiva and Terry Tempest Williams. Women from all over the world will converge in Salt Lake City to assure that the world’s religions affirm the dignity and human rights of women.

We invite you to join us in making women’s history.  


Authored by Phyllis Curott, Vice-Chair of the Parliament Board of Trustees, Chairwomen of the Parliament Women’s Task Force 

Janaan Hashim, Parliament Board Trustee, Parliament Women’s Task Force

Molly Horan, Director of Communications, 2015 Women’s Planning Committee 

Ourvoices and Green Faith Supporters on Getting Behind Pope Francis on Climate Change

Getting Behind Pope Francis on Climate Change: Why People of Diverse Faiths Should Support the Eco-Encyclical

By Rabbi Lawrence Troster and Jeff Korgen of Ourvoices.net Multi-faith Climate Campaign and Green Faith

This summer, Pope Francis will issue a papal encyclical on the environment. In a year of unparalleled importance for climate change because of key UN meetings in Paris this December, his timing couldn’t be better.

The encyclical will not only represent a key step forward on climate and environmental issues within the Catholic community. It will be a document that people of all faiths can use to increase the attention paid to climate change and the environment in their own communities.

Timing Is Everything

Pope Francis himself recently announced that the encyclical will be released in early summer, prior to the Paris talks. For 20 years, world leaders have made these negotiations an exercise in futility, despite consistent leadership from the UN. Scientists widely agree that we need a strong agreement out of Paris to have a prayer of keeping global warming below devastating levels. Pope Francis is doing his best to help create a positive outcome.

What’s an Encyclical?

The two previous popes wrote extensively on environmental concerns. Pope Francis himself has referred to climate change in numerous speeches. But a papal encyclical, one of the highest forms of Catholic teaching, is different. By addressing these concerns in this format, undiluted by other concerns, the Pope makes the topic unavoidable for Catholics globally.

Once the encyclical is released, it will be shared throughout the Roman Catholic Church and incorporated into the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the foundational document for the moral formation of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The Church will have a high-status statement that engages the entire Catholic community on climate change, putting the environment squarely on the church’s agenda for the foreseeable future.

Good for Non-Catholics Too

An essential document for Roman Catholics, the encyclical will also be influential for other Christians and people of all faiths and good will. When the encyclical makes headlines, diverse faith leaders globally will want to highlight their own traditions’ eco-teachings.

This is good, because over the past two decades, eco-theologians globally have articulated values deeply consistent with the themes that Pope Francis can be expected to share. With an eye to the Pope’s past speeches and writing, here are several likely themes of the encyclical, with points of connection to other faiths.

  • The earth is a gift from God and reflects a divinely ordained beauty and order. This theme is integral to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which share an understanding of God as a magnificently generous creator.
  • Human beings must act as the stewards and protectors of this order. Human power over Creation must be carefully utilized in a constructive way. Judaism, Chrisetianity and Islam offer variations on this theme, rooted in Biblical creation accounts and from passages from the Qur’an. Hinduism and Buddhism, with their traditional teachings on ahimsa (non-violence), consistently emphasize that it is our dharma (duty) to treat the natural world with respect. The moral imperative to protect the earth is strong across all faiths.
  • The poor and excluded suffer the worst effects of pollution and climate change. Consistent with the Catholic notion of “the preferential option for the poor,” Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized the vulnerability of the poor to environmental crises. In line with the teachings of every major religion, he will urge leaders to protect from environment-related devastation those who have been “excluded” from the world economic system.
  • Linking nature’s destruction with greed. Pope Francis has consistently criticized the current economic order as a greed-driven, “throw-away” system, in which the rich get richer and the poor poorer. The Pope will likely be clear that he is not anti-capitalist; he’s anti-greed.
  • Pollution as Structural Sin. In 1997, Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church became the first major religious leader to call pollution sinful. We expect that Pope Francis will take this a step further, describing nature’s degradation not only the sin of individuals but also the “structural sin” of the society, whose large-scale systems result in harm to both nature and people.

Pope Francis will likely place the environment in the context of traditional Catholic doctrines on the rights and dignity of the human being, including previous teachings on birth control, gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty. There will be a great deal of continuity between the encyclical, what previous popes have said on the environment and what he himself has already stated. What will be new is the depth of support the pope provides on this issue, demonstrating that unchanging spiritual teaching can adapt to address great turning points in human history.

Getting Behind Pope Francis

People around the world will want to celebrate the encyclical’s release. To help channel this enthusiasm, OurVoices, the international, multi-faith climate campaign, will be facilitating an inter-religious response, sharing the perspectives and reactions of people from a wide range of traditions and circumstances.

Growing numbers of people of faith are united behind a strong agreement at the Paris meetings. Pope Francis is adding his voice through the most powerful means at his disposal. Given the critical importance of 2015, all faith leaders should do the same, urging world leaders to commit to halting the destructive trend represented by climate change and creating an authentically prosperous future for all.

Republished with the author’s permission from Rabbi Lawrence Troster via Huffington Post

Jeffry Odell Korgen & Rabbi Lawrence Troster are engaging Catholic and Jewish communities in OurVoices.net, the international, multi-faith climate campaign.

‘Why the U.S. Needs Interfaith Groups’ – the Opinion of a Youth Interfaith Leader

Via Adam Gerstenfeld,  Parliament Ambassador, IFYC Advisory Board Member for USA TODAY: Within hours of hearing about the killing of three Muslim students, I had been invited to three different prayer vigils for the deceased. All of my invitations came from college interfaith groups.

And then my Twitter blew up — #MuslimLivesMatter was suddenly a trending topic worldwide, prompting an international conversation on media double standards, hate-crime prosecution and Islamophobia in the U.S.

students_chapelhill

Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha, three Muslim Americans who died in a shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina sparking an outcry of interfaith love in the United States, and giving new attention to hate in the United States. The families of the victims have asked that the crime be investigated as a hate crime..

While the positive response for the prayer vigils and social media wave is heartening, I want to know that these conversations are going somewhere. America today is the most religiously diverse it has ever been in its entire history, while religious tensions around the world are steadily rising.

But the cries for more interfaith cooperation are few and far between, and when they are addressed — such as when President Obama spoke during the National Prayer Breakfast — thespeakers are excoriated for addressing some of the more uncomfortable topics.

That is why it is so important to take look at why our generation is trying to change those tides.

Currently I serve on the National Advisory Board for the Interfaith Youth Core, the largest college interfaith organization in the United States. I was a panelist at the 2014 North American Interfaith Network national conference, and founder of University of Florida’s Interfaith Ambassadors.

CONTINUE READING on USA TODAY

How to Sign Up for the Inaugural Women’s Assembly October 15 and Propose Women’s Programs

2015 Parliament registrants are invited to attend the Inaugural Women’s Assembly at the 2015 Parliament which will be held from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on October 15 (preceding the 2015 Parliament opening ceremony on the evening of October 15). Please book your travel accordingly and register free below.

The Inaugural Women’s Assembly and Program Initiative for Global Advancement beginning October 15 will run throughout the Parliament conference, highlighting the work of interfaith women and featuring programs on the vital nexus of women, religion and human rights, sacred sources of inspiration and strength, the transformative impact of women on religion, the re-emergent Divine Feminine and more. A Women’s Sacred Space will host services, ceremonies, meditations and other expressions of women’s spiritual engagement.

Program proposals for the Women’s Program Initiative and Space are encouraged to follow the proposal submission process at rfp.parliamentofreligions.org and should be marked “WOMEN’S INITIATIVE.”

  • Remember to kindly book travel arrangements accordingly and to arrive in Salt Lake before October 15.  
  • Key speaker announcements will be made soon!
  • The Parliament Women’s Task Force seeks your support for the Global Sisters Fund to enable special constituencies of women to attend the Parliament Women’s Assembly and Program Initiative!
  • Please answer these important short questions for registrants so we may count you in for the Women’s Assembly. Form is also included below.

If you cannot locate your registration record, please email 2015@ParliamentOfReligions.org with your name and Registration in the subject. 

 

February 18th, 2015 at 12:35 pm

5 Questions Introducing New Parliament Trustee Crystal McCormick

The Parliament welcomes Crystal McCormick in 2015 to the Board of Trustees. Crystal brings a wealth of information and experience through her background as a pastor in various denominations as well as through her role as a university professor. In this interview with the Parliament communications intern Shani Belshaw she shares her thoughts on the importance of understanding and developing relationships through interfaith dialogue and on the role of women amplifying their voices in religious contexts.

Parliament of the World’s Religions: What has inspired you to be a part of the interfaith movement?

Crystal McCormick: My spiritual journey includes a time (a long time ago!) when I was what I would call a “Christian fundamentalist;” it was in that context that I was taught and internalized a lot of negative and horrible lies and distortions about people of faith traditions outside of Christianity and about people who are atheist. It was the academic study of religions and more importantly, by engagement with people of faith traditions outside of my own that caused those false ideas and distortions to unravel. I began to see the sheer beauty in the many expressions of religion and the fact that many atheists were so very concerned with harmony and human rights and were far kinder than many religious people I had come in contact with; all of these realizations and all of the transition in my religious worldview fostered in me a love for all religions and a commitment to build bridges between people of different religious expressions.

PWR: One of the focused constituencies of the 2015 parliament is “women”. Why do you think this is an important focus for the 2015 Parliament?

CM: The undeniable fact is that in the overwhelming majority of the world’s religious traditions, women have been silenced, marginalized, and oppressed, and continue to be so, this is true regardless of which religious tradition or which continent one looks at. Therefore, focusing on women and paying close attention to the voices of women is both crucial and beneficial; the world of interreligious dialogue must focus on women, women’s right’s and issues, and on women’s voices in order to undo the silencing that the world has done and continues to do to women. Additionally, women – though silenced by their traditions – have often been the most courageous and proactive in practicing sincere peace building, our voices are paramount; though our greatest task as women is to recognize our own privilege, helping create spaces for women around the globe whose voices have been silenced because of poverty and a gross imbalance of power and privilege.

PWR: What is one thing you hope your students gain from your teaching?

CM: When teaching, I hope my students feel empowered – empowered in recognizing their strengths and abilities, including making their own informed decisions. I try to reiterate to my students that I do not hope to impose a particular position or worldview on them, but that I would like for them to soak in the material we are engaging, to challenge it and to allow themselves to be challenged by it so that they might in turn come to conclusions which are informed and carefully thought out.

PWR: Why do you think inter-religious dialogue is so important?

CM: Perhaps it is the pastor in me speaking, but relationship is key in building bridges of peace and understanding, and religions at their best know that though there are rich and beautiful differences among them, that service to humanity is an undeniable commonality. Thus, inter-religious dialogue is vital and so important in order to build bridges of peace across the globe and to address the societal ills that plague our communities. Additionally, we find ourselves at a time and place where the world is terrified by a group like ISIS and thus feeds the already present Islamophobia rampant particularly in American and European cultures. Interreligious dialogue can help dispel the Islamophobia and to show our Muslim neighbors that they have allies in the interreligious world.

PWR: What more you would like to share about yourself?

CM: I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, serving a congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA), doing doctoral work at a Lutheran School (LSTC) because of their commitment to interfaith dialogue, particularly Muslim-Christian dialogue.

__________________________________________________________________

Crystal McCormickCrystal Silva-McCormick is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and currently serves as Associate Pastor at St. Andrews Presbyterian in Austin, Texas. She is a doctoral student in Interfaith Relations at the LSTC. Crystal is a scholar with the Hispanic Theological Initiative; a program designed to nurture and advance the work of Latina/o scholars in the field of religion. Crystal has taught in the university setting in the areas of Women’s Studies and Religious studies. She has worked with people of various religious backgrounds in order to foster interreligious dialogue and service and has worked for advocacy for immigrant and immigration reform. Crystal’s work within and outside the academy focuses on building bridges across race and religion and advocacy for women and women’s rights.

5 Questions Introducing New Parliament Board Trustee Dr. Brian Birch

Shani Belshaw, an intern on the Parliament communication’s team, recently conducted an interview with one of the Parliament’s newest trustees Dr. Brian Birch to discuss his journey to the Board and what a significant role religion plays in our societies. Birch also explains his view on how the 2015 theme— Reclaiming the Heart of our Humanity. Working Together for a World of Compassion, Peace, Justice, and Sustainability—exemplifies the topical, practical dimensions that will be addressed at the Parliament.

Parliament of the World’s Religions: The 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City is quickly approaching, what about the coming Parliament excites you most?

Brian Birch: I cannot think of a better time to be hosting a Parliament. Religious differences and misunderstanding continue to play a significant role in human conflict. This event is an opportunity to communicate the deep commitments of religious communities to peace and harmony.

PWR: This is the first Parliament to ever be held in Utah; what do you hope the people of Utah gain from the 2015 Parliament being held there?

BB: I am extremely proud to be part of hosting the Parliament in my home city. Salt Lake City is a wonderful choice. The people of Utah are among the most friendly and hospitable in the world. Our community will greatly benefit from the cultural and religious diversity. Though we have a strong history of hosting international visitors, the religious dimensions of the event add a degree of unparalleled richness.

PWR: The theme of the 2015 Parliament is Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity: Working Together for a World of Compassion, Peace, Justice, and Sustainability; what do you like about this theme?

BB: The theme could not be more timely and communicates the very practical dimensions of interfaith work. Religion remains among the most potent forces in the human experience. It influences a variety of institutions and thus has a substantial role to play in finding solutions to our biggest challenges. I’m excited that people will see the application of faith to our economic and environmental challenges.

PWR: What major events in your life have encouraged you to be a part of this movement?

BB: As a young Latter-day Saint missionary in New York City, I was mesmerized by the diversity of faiths and cultures I experienced there. I observed firsthand the challenges of religious misunderstanding and prejudice and it led to my academic pursuits in these areas. My experiences over the years have only strengthened my commitment to respectful interactions across religious and ethical lines.

PWR: One of the three focused constituencies of the 2015 Parliament is youth. You’re the Director of the Religious Studies Program and Center for the Study of Ethics at Utah Valley University and active in the development of student interfaith leadership through partnerships with the Interfaith Youth Core; what have you learned from working with the youth?

BB: I am continually amazed by the creativity and commitment of young interfaith leaders. Students are naturally more inclusive and have an orientation toward service that gives them a head start in working across differences. The Parliament leadership is especially anxious to provide opportunities to build on their unique forms of social capital.

_____________________________________________________________

Brian D. Birch is Director of the Religious Studies Program and Center for the Study of Ethics at Utah Valley University. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University and specializes in comparative theology and the ethical dimensions of religious diversity. He is a member of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable and active in the development of student interfaith leadership through partnerships with the Interfaith Youth Core and related organizations. He currently serves as Senior Research Fellow at the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and his latest book projects are entitled Radical Pluralism: Essays on Religious Practice and Mormonism Among Christian Theologies for Oxford University Press.

Pre-Parliament Tumpek Krulut Compassion Day Event In Bali Celebrates Interfaith Harmony Week

© Copyright 2015 by Handoko Kartika – See More on Facebook!

Tumpek Krulut Compassion Day is celebrated every six months in Bali, but the recent krulut day at Goa Gajah in Bedulu Village was a special one. The “2nd Sharing Creating Offering Art” event on January 31, 2015 was organized to celebrate the Krulut Day combined with the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, and as a Pre-Parliament of the World’s Religions event.Tumpek Kurulut Day is a holy day in Bali for giving thanks to God the great unity-as manifested in Dewa Iswara- for creating sacred sounds or sacred music in the beauty of art. Tumpek Krulut is also Compassion Day towards all living beings. The word lulut means “uniting the heart with sundaram (beauty),” so that thoughts become peaceful.

The Community of Bedulu Village under the coordination of the Village Chief and Customary Chief; Padepokan Lemah Putih; International Foundation for Dharma Nature Time; GEOKS – Geria Olah Kreativitas Seni; Pancer Langit Bali; Gianyar Regency Office of Culture; and Gianyar Regency Office of Tourism celebrated the Tumpek Krulut Compassion Day with more than 450 artists, culture specialists, and religious leaders from Bali, several other Indonesian provinces and 30 nations plus 150 additional audience.

The Senior Advisor on the Protection of Creative Diversity in the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia Drs. Hari Untoro Drajat and the Director for Public Diplomacy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Al Busyra Basnur, also attended this intercultural event.

In addition to traditional and contemporary artistic performances in the Goa Gajah handicraft market and gardens, a very valuable discussion session also took place on “The Contributions of Ethnic Cultures to the Prosperity of the World’s Communities” conducted by Dr. Wayan Dibia (GEOKS – Singapadu, Bali); Dr. Kusumita Pedersen (Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions trustee); and Drs. I Wayan Patera (Chief of the Samuan Tiga temple).

Dr. Diane Butler, the Co-Charter Founder and President of International Foundation for Dharma Nature Time, and Suprapto Suryodarmo, the Founder of Padepokan Lemah Putih, further reported about this event that sharing among artists, culture specialists, religious leaders, market vendors and society grows a spirit of gotong royong (mutual cooperation). Inspired by the essence of Tumpek Krulut Compassion Day, this sharing will be useful for efforts to increase mutual understanding, harmony, and prosperity for humanity throughout the world, and in particular, based on the values of unity in diversity.

More photos and videos available at https://www.facebook.com/srawungciptasenisembah

Mourning the Passing of Tonya Frichner, Heroine of Indigenous Rights and Parliament Women’s Task Force Advisor

©Marilu Lopez Fretts/Four Directions Media

It is with heavy hearts the Parliament shares news of the February 14 passing of Tonya Frichner. A Monumental Figure in the Indigenous’ Rights Struggle, Frichner spoke at the 1999 Cape Town and 2009 Melbourne Parliaments, and recently began serving as an Advisor to the Parliament Women’s Task Force.

  • Women’s Task Force Chairwoman and Parliament Vice-Chair, Phyllis Curott, says,” “She was an extraordinary and great-hearted woman, an Advisor to our Women’s Task Force and President and founder of the American Indian Law Alliance, an NGO in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic & Social Council. She was an activist attorney who played an essential role in the campaign against the Doctrine of Discovery and so many more efforts on behalf of Indigenous peoples and women. Tonya was a great woman and her passing is a great loss. We will miss her wise counsel, her radiant presence but her spirit and inspiration remain in our hearts, and in the Women’s Initiative.”
  • The United Nations will hold an event in memory of Frichner later this year

 

Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esq. Gowanahs, Snipe Clan name, a citizen of the Onondaga Nation, Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, Haudenosaunee. Ms. Gonnella Frichner, the eldest of eight children of Henry and Maxine Nolan Gonnella. A global indigenous leader and President and Founder of the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA), since 1989. AILA is a Non-Governmental Organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Ms. Gonnella Frichner was a lawyer, activist and professor of American Indian history and law, Federal Indian Law, and anthropology and human rights for over twenty years. Ms. Gonnella Frichner taught at the City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and Manhattanville College for eight years, as well as CUNY Hunter College and New York University. Ms. Gonnella Frichner also served as an Associate Member of Columbia’s University Seminar on Indigenous Studies.Ms. Gonnella Frichner, worked closely with global Indigenous leadership, as well as the Onondaga Nation and the Haudenosaunee. She devoted her life to the pursuing of the right to self-determination, sovereignty, treaty rights, and individual and collective rights for Indigenous Peoples.Ms. Gonnella Frichner was appointed as the North American Regional Representative for a three year term from 2008-2010, to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), by the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), an advisory body to the ECOSOC. In that position, her mandates included: human rights, economic and social development, environment, health, education and media. Ms. GonnellaFrichner was nominated by Indigenous Nations, Peoples and Non-Governmental Organizations to the position for her work in the international arena. During that time, Ms. Gonnella Frichner served as Vice-Chairperson as well as the Special Rapporteur for the “Preliminary study of the impact on indigenous peoples of the international legal construct known as the Doctrine of Discovery,” (E/C.19/2010/13), submitted to the UNPFII, Ninth Session, 2010. She has served as an active participant and legal and diplomatic counsel to Indigenous delegations in virtually all United Nations international fora affecting Indigenous Peoples especially during the drafting, negotiations and passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), overwhelmingly adopted in December 2007 (A/RES/61/295) by the UN General Assembly. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) sets the minimum standard for the survival, dignity and individual and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples globally.

Ms. Gonnella Frichner has received many distinguished awards for her service. Most recently, she received the Drums Along the Hudson award in June 2014, shared with the Honorable David N. Dinkins, the 106th Mayor of New York City. Other awards include the Harriet Tubman Humanitarian Award, the Thunderbird Indian of the Year Award, the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the American Indian Community House International Service Award, the SilverCloud Singer Outstanding Service Award for advancing Indigenous Youth, the Ms. Foundation Female Role Model of the Year, which was shared with author J.K. Rowlings and others, The Mosaic Council, Inc. Visionary Award for Making a Difference, which was shared with entertainer Queen Latifah, the New York County Lawyers Association Award for Outstanding Public Service, the Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa O’Peqtaw Metaehmoh – Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice, and Sovereignty Award, the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team Recognition, a City of Philadelphia proclamation in honor of United Nations Day and Ms. Gonnella Frichner’s work to “promote the rights for native people around the world,” recognition from the Temple of Understanding, recognition from the Beacon Two Row Wampum Festival, and the Alston Bannerman Fellowship.

Ms. Gonnella Frichner co-founded the Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus, together with Ms. Tia Oros Peters (Zuni), Executive Director of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, and Ms. Esmeralda Brown, President of the Southern Diaspora Research and Development Center.

Ms. Gonnella Frichner served on several boards of directors including serving as the Chairperson of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, the City University of New York School of Law Board of Visitors, the Interfaith Center of New York, the Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action, the Seven Eagles Corporation, the Flying Eagle Women Fund for Peace, Justice and Sovereignty, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, the Boarding School Healing Project, and the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team, the official national team of the Haudenosaunee since 1984. It is a Federation of International Lacrosse member nation and World Lacrosse Championship medalists. Ms. Gonnella Frichner authored a number of articles and papers on Indigenous Peoples and was working on two books, including an autobiography. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from St. John’s University of New York and graduated magna cum laude in 1980, she earned a Juris Doctor from the City University of New York School of Law in 1987 and a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from Colby College, Waterville in Maine in 2012.

In September 2014 United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon quoted Ms. Gonnella Frichner in his remarks: “A longtime indigenous activist and former member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Tonya GonnellaFrichner, once said, “Indigenous peoples all speak many different languages but in our meetings, we are speaking one language. Our relationship to Mother Earth is identical.”

Ms. Gonnella Frichner, 67 of Union City, New Jersey began her journey to her Creator on February 14, 2015 and is survived by her loving husband of 42 years, University Professor and Fashion Institute of Technology HerbFrichner, and their son Jason M. Frichner (Eva), Assistant Vice-President of Marketing for the Hanes Corporation. Ms. Gonnella Frichner is also survived by her sisters, Nannette Gonnella (Carol), Jacquelyn Gonnella Thomas, and Kimberley Gonnella Tobian (Brian); brothers, Henry Gonnella, Jr., Michael Gonnella, Thomas Gonnella (Lucia) and Christopher Gonnella; her beloved nieces, Betty Lyons (Tadodaho Sidney Hill) and Maya Thomas; nephews, David Tobian and Matthew Gonnella and several nieces and nephews. Ms. Gonnella Frichner held dear to her heart the AILA staff that supported her work, Chief of Staff, Murrielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna/Rappahanock Nations) and Research & Policy Adviser, Roger Drew. She was predeceased by her father, Henry L. Gonnella in 1993 and her mother, Maxine Nolan Gonnella in 2003.

Donations can be made to the American Indian Law Alliance to carry on Tonya’s important work. For more info on donations email aila@ailanyc.org.

To express sympathy please visit ballweg-lunsford.com