Archive for the ‘Interreligious Movement’ Category
The Parliament wishes to share congratulations on the unanimous resolution voted by the City Council of Atlanta, which became official on February 12, 2014, declaring:
“…BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT THE CITY OF ATLANTA IS DESIGNATED A COMPASSIONATE CITY.”
This encouraging progress for the Charter for Compassion comes this week from the Parliament’s Faiths Against Hate partners in Atlanta, championed by by Chair Emeritus Rev. Bob Thompson and a collective of three major interfaith organizations in the greater Atlanta area.
After launching the Compassionate Atlanta campaign to create a compassionate circle of cities February 2 at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center, the Atlanta City Council passed the following resolution, and is encouraging surrounding municipalities to follow suit.
The principles for the Charter for Compassion stem from the very elements of the Golden Rule, which is endorsed through the world’s traditions in the Initial Declaration Toward a Global Ethic drafted in collaboration by the planners of the 1993 Centenary Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago and the daring German Theologian, Hans Kung.
Seeing the progress of the Charter sway governments and transforming global society city by city is a sign of a changing world. It is of the utmost importance for all invested peacemakers to capitalize this spirit in the work to heal hate and advance a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
Congratulations to the city of Atlanta and each campaigning locality being bold, brave, and visionary.
We salute you!
The North American Interfaith Network invites proposals for the 26th annual Connect conference hosted this year by the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, August 10 – 13 at Wayne State University.
Programs should explore how uniquely interfaith work can bridge borders and boundaries; best practices in interfaith work; unique community challenges that interfaith work has overcome; how interfaith work could transform the civic community; how does interfaith work meet the challenges of segregation and a racialized society? Proposals are invited for workshops and panel presentations. Each workshop/panel presentation will run for 90 minutes. The proposal deadline is Wednesday, March 5. Program confirmation will be made by Friday, April 18.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions was honored by receiving outstanding applications to represent us at the Youth Representative program of the United Nations DPI-NGO body for 2014. As the UN works to implement its post Millennium Development Goals agenda, these young leaders stand to implement action aligned to the Parliament’s mission of creating a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
We are pleased to announce the representatives selected are Ms. Sara Rahim and Mr. Tahil Sharma.
Ms. Sara Rahim, will complete a double major in Public Health and International Studies from Saint Louis University this year. Sara’s passion for social justice expands to global health, interfaith, and refugee/migration issues. She has studied Arabic in Egypt, offered healthcare in Honduras, and spent a semester in Morocco, where she conducted a study on access to healthcare for undocumented sub-Saharan migrants. She later returned to Morocco to work with grassroots NGOs that focus on sub-Saharan female migrants’ health. On campus, Sara has spearheaded the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge for the past two years, while organizing student interfaith programming. Off campus, Sara has interned at Interfaith Youth Core coaching students to be leaders of interfaith action, and she has worked in refugee resettlement at World Relief. In the future, Sara would like to pursue a career in global health and international development, with a focus on communities in conflict, and she hopes to use interfaith as a tool towards sustainable development.
Sara reflects, “Throughout my undergraduate experience, interfaith has always been a tool to build bridges across diverse traditions and to mobilize my community towards action. In the future, I hope to continue to work with communities in conflict towards building those bridges and improving access to areas such as health and education. Being able to represent the Parliament at the UN will allow me to live my mission on a national platform and engage with like-minded leaders towards building a global ethic.”
- Mr. Tahil Sharma, a senior who will complete his B.A. in International Studies and Languages at LaVerne University in California.
Tahil Sharma is working to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish, with emphases in Japanese and International Studies at the University of La Verne in Southern California. Serving as an interfaith activist for numerous years, he is currently employed as the Coordinator for the Center for Sikh Studies at Claremont Lincoln University, under the Claremont School of Theology. His work in peace and community service has named him a Newman Civic Fellow for working with local communities on issues related to discrimination and prejudice, as well as issues of food insecurity.
Tahil reflects, “getting the chance to go to the United Nations means that I can take part in changing the way diplomacy and foreign relations are dealt with in our day and age. The context of culture and religion play such significant roles in our society that not recognizing and respecting them would create misnomers for the identity of numerous people. Declaring the value and necessity of inter-religious amity and cooperation would mean informing and bring the world together for the greater good of humanity.”
Congratulations to Tahil Sharma, Sara Rahim, and to the next generation of interfaith leaders who are rapidly advancing the interfaith movement beyond limits.
Via the Elijah Interfaith Institute
On February 2, the Elijah Interfaith Institute hosted an interreligious forum discussing the significance of the Pope’s forthcoming visit to the Holy Land, and the hopes the visit inspires for improved relationships between Christians, Muslims and Jews. The event at the historic YMCA was held in honour of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week. The forum was chaired by Elijah’s Director of Educational Activities, Peta Jones Pellach.
Rabbi Dr Alon Goshen-Gottstein, founder and executive directors of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, opened the discussion by showing that Pope Francis is not only Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ – making him a ‘pop star’ – but he is also on the front cover of Rolling Stone – making him ‘not just a pop star, but a rock star!’ This enormously popular Pope is genuinely close to the Jewish people – but is he really able to do more in terms of interreligious reconciliation that his predecessors? The previous two Popes visited the Holy Land. In both cases, their interreligious initiatives failed. Instead of symbolising the hope for healing, the events- at least the aspects of them covered by the media- underscored differences and hostility. This visit does not include an interfaith event – almost certainly because of the previous failures . So how can it provide hope and inspiration for improved interreligious relations?
The Pope has a very close friend, Rabbi Avraham Skorka. Skorka has said to the media that the Pope’s visit will herald a new relationship between religions and will have significance for the entire world. This, suggests Skorka, may happen through the unique touch, the gesture, the symbol, the way the Pope knows to communicate beyond words. So, continued Goshen-Gottstein, do we share Skorka’s view? What are our expectations and what wish or hope can we express for the papal visit?
Bishop William Shomali, the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, is involved in planning the visit of Pope Francis and is aware of the program of his trip – details of which are under embargo. He is full of hope for the visit, even though it will not include a meeting with non-Christian leaders. The biggest hope is the area of ecumenism.
When the Pope’s visit was announced, he told Vatican Radio that the community in the Holy Land is “expecting a lot from this visit. Christians, Jews and Muslims (in the Holy Land) are counting on this visit to intensify the ecumenical and the interreligious relationships,” he said. In his view, one of the highlights will be the encounter between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along with all of the bishops and patriarchs of the Holy City. He also expressed the hope that this visit would advance relations with the Orthodox Church.
Bishop Shomali reminded the audience that we should not expect immediate results from the visit of the Pope, and that even though we are in the digital age of immediate results, it would be foolish to expect to see changes from such a visit immediately. There will be a difference but it would be noticeable over time.
Pope Francis has said that his prime aim is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and the then spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Atengora. Catholics and Orthodox have been divided since the Great Schism of 1054, precipitated largely by disagreements over the primacy of the Pope.
Pope Francis will be joined in Jerusalem by the current ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew, who became the first ecumenical leader to attend a papal installation since the schism when he traveled to Rome for Francis’ inaugural Mass in March. In fact, the initiative for the visit was Bartholomew’s. They will celebrate Mass together at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the faithful believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
Bishop Shomali believes that even though this will be a very short visit, every moment will count and people will be moved. He said that one of his hopes from February), the Elijah Interfaith Institute hosted an the visit is that there will be steps towards the synchronizing of the date of Easter, currently a major point of division between the churches.
Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs of AJC and its Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding, received a papal Knighthood in 2005 for his contribution to Jewish-Catholic reconciliation. Rabbi Rosen contextualized the upcoming visit in the framework of Jewish-Christian relations, making the point that all the statements and moves the current Pope has made regarding interreligious reconciliation were already made by his predecessors. The difference is that Pope Francis is loved by the media – and says things in simple language that are easily understood and accepted by the population at large.
Rabbi Rosen has a particular admiration for the many positive moves the previous Pope made regarding relations with non-Catholics. However, the press did not pick up on them. It is Francis who has the charisma – both in the traditional religious sense and in the vernacular use.
Bishop Shomali gave the illustration: Francis has not made new steps in Christian theology towards the environment but in a single line, he moved hearts and minds:
‘God always forgives; humans sometimes forgive; nature never forgives’.
This, his predecessors have said in documents using complicated theological language.
Rabbi Rosen said that precisely because of the brilliance of the Pope in capturing the popular imagination, it is a great shame that this trip is so short and with so few opportunities for meeting the public, and with no opportunities for meetings with other religious leaders. This trip will be positive – but it could be so much more positive. The Rabbi is certain that the public will be inspired and uplifted – despite the elements that will be missing.
Audience discussion indicated that both the Bishop and the Rabbis had correctly estimated the affection for the Pope and the hopes people had for a positive outcome from his visit to the Holy Land. Only one ‘negative’ was expressed – the concern that local Roman Catholics would not have an opportunity to celebrate mass with the leader of their religion. The limited nature of the trip is likely to disappoint large numbers of local Catholics who would like to see the Pope close up.
In response to a question about antisemitism in the ranks of the Church, both speakers agreed that all the efforts of the Catholic Church since Nostra Aetate may still not be enough to eliminate antisemitism in every place. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church has had a genuine revolution – Rosen suggests the most radical change of ideology in any time in history – and Jews are no longer blamed for the death of Jesus. Judaism is an ‘older brother’ or ‘parent’ to Christianity. Jesus was unequivocally a Jew – an observant Jew. The Pope’s visit can highlight that unique relationship between these religions.
There was much discussion about the value of symbolism and the fine line between symbolism and substance. Bishop Shomali asked that Israel announce some family reunion visas to Christians to coincide with the visit. The question was raised as to what local Christians and Muslims might do to show their commitment to the spirit of cooperation that the visit would be symbolizing. Rabbi Rosen was concerned that timed gestures should not replace an ongoing commitment to behaving morally and dealing with issues of justice.
Rabbi Rosen’s wife and an activist in her own right, Sharon Rosen, reminded the gathering that the visit of the Pope occurs three weeks after the current round of peace negotiations is supposed to conclude. She raised the hope that the visit would cement some real progress and suggested there are items in the embargoed program that could relate to peace efforts. Alon Goshen-Gottstein concluded the evening by speaking of his (and Elijah’s) hopes for the visit. Goshen-Gottstein also shared the vision of the Centre of HOPE (House of Prayer and Education), where people of all religions will be able to stand side-by-side in prayer, each praying in her own way, and will be able to learn from and about each other.
This vision for Jerusalem, ‘My House will be a House of Prayer for all people’, is fulfillment of the vision of the Prophet Isaiah. Alon wants the Pope to endorse and launch this project. He suggested that this would not take any time from the rushed schedule of the Pope. It could happen between the Western Wall and the Temple Mount – because even the charismatic Pope needs to go from one place to another and cannot just ‘materialise’ there!
The Pope, said Goshen-Gottstein, has already expressed in person his support for this vision. The idea of it being a legacy and a “gift” of this visit is also appreciated by him. What is missing at this stage is the gesture, the image, the public moment of reaching out and announcing a new Hope, in the presence of religious leaders of the Holy Land. The thundering applause from Sunday’s audience for this vision being a fruit of the upcoming papal visit suggests there are many who appreciate the need for an institutional breakthrough and for new opportunities for religious communities in Jerusalem and worldwide. HOPE could be an important expression of hope for the Pope to leave us with.
Via Kathe Schaaf, Women of Spirit and Faith:
Attention women of the CPWR community: Women of Spirit and Faith hosts a collaborative blog ‘The Divine Feminine’ on the Patheos.com media platform. You are invite to contribute a post during the month of February exploring the following question:
Women of Spirit and Faith was born at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, where we saw an opportunity to invite women who are ‘spiritual but not religious’ into the interfaith conversation and to affirm the spiritual leadership of all women.
We are continuously inspired and energized by the wisdom of the women who have joined the WSF community. Their creativity and passion are one of the many forces shifting and changing the interfaith community, which we see rapidly evolving beyond dialogue and into a living experience of co-creation, collaboration and support. Tell us what you see happening in your life.
Send a blog of 100-800 words to Divine Feminine blog to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a one-sentence bio and a photograph of yourself.
It is Winter; the wind howls and Mother Nature lies sleeping, deep under a blanket of snow. Bare branches, stark against the slate gray sky, crack against each other like knucklebones, and when the winds really howl they snap, hitting the snow covered ground with a hushed thump.
On the Great Wheel of the Year, this is the time of Imbolc. In the Celtic seasonal calendar, Imbolc marked the beginning of the lambing season. The ewes came into their milk and the first stirrings of Spring began.
This is the ‘quickening of the year’; there is a spark hidden below the surface, like a new pregnancy, barely perceptible and yet urgently anticipated and holding great promise. The seed stirs in the belly of the Earth.
Traditionally, Imbolc was the great festival in honor of Brigid (Brighid, Brigit, Bride), so beloved as a Pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church and she became St. Bridget. Brigid is a Triple Goddess, of poetry, smithing, and healing arts. She is also a Goddess of fire, and of the hearth; she brings fertility to the land and its people.
Other archetypes and characters that might be honored at this time are the Cailleach, the old woman in the stone; Lucia with her crown of candles, and of course the Ground Hog, whose story bears surprising similarities to the Pagan mythologies of Kore or Persephone.
Most Pagans, the People of the Earth, are (naturally or through training) consciously attuned to and aware of the differences in the energies of the land as we move through the seasons. We find certainty in the concept of mirroring — “as above so below; as without so within.” The light, which is mature and at its full height at the Summer Solstice, is now in the belly of Mother Earth at the time of Imbolc.
The original word ‘Imbolc’ means ‘in the belly’, which aptly identifies the underlying energy of this time of year. We do not feel the same vibrant vitality and enthusiasm that we feel in June, at the time of Imbolc.
We use this Imbolc time to finish the season of spiraling inward, of reflection, and dreaming. We hold tightly to the promise of renewal, and awakening, and with the returning light we have hope.
With Imbolc we also begin to experience some sense of relief in another way. The lengthening daylight, which began at the Winter Solstice, can alleviate the struggle so many of us may have with Seasonal Affective Disorder. (S.A.D.)
Denmark, given its geographical location endures particularly long, dark winters. One would think there would be a high number of people affected with seasonal depression in that country. Interestingly, Denmark lays claim to being the happiest place on Earth.
According to Mother Nature Network, the Danish word that embodies this particular kind of happiness is ‘hygge’ (pronounced hYOOgah). Blogger Russell McLenden says, “ ‘Hygge’ may sound alien outside Denmark, but its general ethos of enduring wintry gloom with coziness and camaraderie could help raise spirits almost anywhere.”
My community embraces this concept. Through the Winter months while Persephone reigns in the Underworld, and her mother, Demeter expresses her grief through a barren landscape, we make a point of gathering together in each other’s homes, sharing food and stories, and small comforts that sooth worried hearts.
At Imbolc, we acknowledge and feel gratitude for the good fortune of having made it through the cold dark Winter — something our ancestors may not have so easily taken for granted. We feel the first stirrings and anticipate the return of Persephone, the maiden of Spring.
We weave solar wheels (Brighid’s crosses), which pre-date Christianity, and which are said to protect the house from fire. We bake; we braid bread and churn butter. We dip candles, to remind us of the fire that burns in the belly, and the spark that ignites deep in the Earth. With each dip of our new candles we are reminded that just as the snow hides the Earth, the layers of wax hide the promise of light within — within the candle and within ourselves.
We gather in a circle on a quiet hillside. Standing together on the hard packed snow we feel the quickening beneath our feet. Hand to hand, we allow the rhythm of our breath and the drumbeat of our hearts to synchronize with Her rhythm and with each other. As our flames burn bravely in their little glass jars, we experience the connection to the Earth. We are blessed by the fullness of heart and Spirit that comes from spending time on the land with loved ones, as we contemplate our own hidden fires and await the return of Spring.
We are the People of the Earth and these are the Earth Traditions.
Rev. Angie Buchanan
Rev. Angie Buchanan is a Family Tradition Pagan. She is a founder and director of Gaia’s Womb, an interfaith spirituality group for women, and Earth Traditions, a Pagan Church that also offers a Training Program for Pagan Ministry. Angie has a background in law enforcement and politics. She consults with multiple religious and interreligious groups, encouraging dialogue and understanding. She is a former instructor at Cherry Hill Seminary, having taught Introduction to Interfaith there for four years. Angie travels, speaking to groups at churches and schools about Paganism, religious freedom, the Global Ethic, the separation of church and state, and the First Amendment. She has been a presenter at a number of interfaith events, including the 2004 Parliament and the Buddhist Council of the Midwest Women’s Conference. She has worked with CPWR as a Board Member since 2002.
The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit is hosting this year’s NAIN conference Sunday, August 10 through Wednesday August 13 at Michigan’s Wayne State University. Connect 2014 will focus on a theme of Bridging Borders and Boundaries, and is now open for early bird registration.
Dr. Mary Nelson, the Parliament’s executive director, says she is grateful that there are opportunities like NAIN where the Interfaith community is strengthened. “The Parliament seeks to better connect with other interfaith groups and is happy to encourage this important relationship as we all work together to better achieve a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.”
Parliament representatives at the 2013 Toronto event enjoyed celebrating 25 years of NAIN, and learning the history of the 1993 Connect held in conjunction with the centenary Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, from attendees who were in attendance for both, and was as an animating moment for the interfaith community as it began to globalize.
More information will be shared as it becomes available. For now, download NAIN Connect 2014 official Save the Date here.
A unique experience for social entrepreneurs and leaders is opportune in the announcement of the fifth edition of the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship to be held this August at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). This initiative is sponsored by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation in New York.
Those from a Jewish and/or Muslim cultural background are encouraged to apply, though the fellowship is open to qualified candidates interested in cross-cultural dialogue from all backgrounds. Deadline for completing applications is February 9, 2014 (midnight, CET).
To apply, click here.
Suzanne Morgan, Ambassador of Sacred Spaces of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions invites you to share with the Downtown Chicago faith communities of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions Sharing Sacred Spaces project as they present an interreligious community building program entitled “Sharing Sacred Text: Messages of Peace and Non-Violence.” The gathering will be held on February 16 at the Buchanan Chapel of Fourth Presbyterian Church. 126 E. Chestnut Street, Chicago.
Suzanne Morgan, founder of Sacred Space International, and Sacred Space Ambassador for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions would like to invite you to join us at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church for an exhibition of her growing architectural model collection, featured in the Loggia Space from now until March 3, 2014.
Featured congregations are:
- Unity Temple
- St. Benedict the African
- Perlman Sanctuary at North Shore Congregation Israel
- The Assumption Greek Orthodox Church
- First Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran
- Holy Family Church
Fourth Church Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. |Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. | Sunday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
126 E. Chestnut Street (just west of Michigan Ave.) | Chicago, IL | 60611.2014 | 312.787.4570
Additionally, taking place on February 14th, 2014, Fourth Presbyterian Church will be hosting Suzanne Morgan to give a talk detailing both the collection and the culture and history behind each of the featured congregations.
Suzanne Morgan Presents:
Congregations Seen Through Their Sacred Spaces: A Collection of Chicagoland’s Religious Architecture
Fourth Presbyterian Church, Gratz Center, Room 4G
February 14, 2014
- 6:00 – 6:30 Attendee Check-In
- 6:30 – 7:30 Suzanne Morgan
- 7:30 – 8:30 Social Hour
This program has a registration fee of $10 required in advance. To register, contact Anne Ellis (312.573.3369). Registration will not be available at the door.