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Parliament Chair Abdul Malik Mujahid, Former V.P. Al Gore, and National Spiritual Leaders to Conclude Religions for the Earth Conference at Multi-Faith Service in NYC

On Sunday, September 21, Parliament Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid will be speaking at the Religions for the Earth Multifaith Service at New York City’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

Mujahid’s view that “faith leaders must all join hands to save the only planet we have” will come to life at the service featuring a prestigious group of leaders in the religious, spiritual, and Earth-spiritual communities presented in collaboration with Former-Vice President of the United States Al Gore, who is also slated to speak.

Speakers and attendees will be enveloped in celebratory acts of music, performance and ritual all building toward a massive pledge of spiritual communities honoring the sacred environment in real, practical actions.

As a co-sponsor of the Religions for the Earth conference, the Parliament will be connecting with a strategic assembly of 200 other leaders in interfaith, religious, faith and spiritual organizations. Union Theological Seminary is hosting the conference as part of events kicking off NY Climate Week in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Parliament Chair

In Mujahid’s view, the growing commitments faith communities are making to advance environmental protections will see more promising results by applying the influence leaders can have in multiple ways.

Mujahid says, “As more than 40 percent of America listens to pulpits every week, we must not only preach the gospel of sharing more and consuming less. But also, we must do our best to influence the guiding institutions to become more serious in urgently developing the relevant public policies. Better public policies and better consumer behavior both are needed. And this will be a major theme in the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.”

Religions for the Earth Conference attendees will also participate in the biggest climate march in history, The People’s Climate March, expected to unite over 100,000 environmental stewards organizing from across all social institutions on Sunday, September 21. Faith and interfaith representation at the march will climb into the multiple thousands.

Peace activism in general will reach a global high on September 21, which is the United Nations official observance of International Day of Peace, coinciding with satellite climate events taking place all over the world.

The evening Religions for the Earth Multi-Faith Service is open to the public, featuring speakers including:

  • Uncle Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Founder – IceWisdom International, Eskimo, Kalaallit Elder
  • Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota Sioux 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle
  • Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, Founder – Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth
  • Ms. Dekila Chungyalpa, Environmental Advisor to His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
  • Father Edwin Gariguez, General Secretary – Caritas Philippines
  • Former Vice-President Al Gore, Chairman – The Climate Reality Project
  • Reverend Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary
  • Reverend Dr. James Kowalski, Director – Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
  • Iriama Margaret Lokawua, Director – Indigenous Women Environmental Conservation Project
  • Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair – Parliament of the World’s Religions
  • Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder – Navdanya
  • Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder – Sojourners
  • Terry Tempest Williams, Writer and Teacher

When: Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 6 p.m. EST

Where: The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

Social Media: Follow the Religions for the Earth conference on Facebook, Twitter, and interact using hashtag #FaithInChange

Religions for the Earth MultiFaith Service is being presented by host Union Theological Seminary, and co-sponsored by the Parliament of the World’s Religions, GreenFaith, Interfaith Center of New York, the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace, and the Cathedral Saint John the Divine.

Tuesday Press Conference Will Announce the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions

PRESS CONFERENCE TO ANNOUNCE
THE 2015 PARLIAMENT


On September 9, 2014, the leaders of the interfaith movement will hold a press conference to announce the dates and the location of the 2015 Parliament.

Top leaders of the Parliament, URI, Charter for Compassion and the Grandson of Gandhi will address the press conference.

As the hate, anger, and fear is rising in the USA, the interfaith movement with its loving compassionate relationship must rise to the occasion.

Here are the names of the Parliament leaders and some of our cherished partners who will deliver this momentous news: 

  • Parliament Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid
  • Parliament Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson
  • Grandson of Gandhi, Arun Gandhi, a Parliament Trustee
  • Executive Director of the Charter for Compassion Andrew Himes
  • United Religions Initiative Chair North America Sande Hart

You Can Register Tuesday September 9 for the Next Parliament

As soon as the press conference has taken place, we will send out an announcement of the dates and the location and the registration will begin immediately.

803 Interfaith Activists Have Voted For the Next Parliament

803 people have submitted their ideas and opinions about the next Parliament. They have told us how much in registration fees they prefer, which speakers they would like to hear from and have suggested how to engage young adults in the interfaith movement. We have read them and are implementing much of their advice.

If you have not responded to this survey yet, it still time to do so. Tuesday will be too late. 

Click Here To Submit Your Opinion

It only takes a few minutes!

ABOUT THE 2015 PARLIAMENT PRESS CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

The Tech Wiz Wiring Compassion Across the World, Andrew Himes 

Mr Himes is the executive director of the Charter for Compassion, launched in 2008 by TED.com and Karen Armstrong, with the mission of supporting the emergence of a global compassion movement. He is the author of The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family.  He was born into a leading fundamentalist family of the 20th century and went on to organize for social justice and civil rights in Alabama in the 1970s. As a technology pioneer, Himes was the founding editor of the first tech-journal at Macintosh, lead the team developing the world’s first website at Microsoft, and became its first internet publishing director.

Connect with the Charter for Compassion

The Woman Waging Peace, URI North America Chair, Sande Hart

Sande Hart is the Chair for the North America Region of the United Religions Initiative, Head Coach of The Compassion Games International, Chief Compassion Officer of Compassionate California, President of the women’s interfaith community building organization S.A.R.A.H. (Spiritual And Religious Alliance for Hope) and Co-Founder of I Am Jerusalem/ Board Member of The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics and serves on Boards a number of interfaith organizations and the UN NGO Cities Peace Team to promote International Day of Peace. Sande is the author of Make A Difference 101, Community Service; A Practical Step-by-Step Guide for Kids and workshop facilitator.

The Parliament Leader and Community Builder Dr. Mary Nelson

Dr. Mary Nelson is the Executive Director of the Parliament. She retired after 30 years as President of Bethel New Life, Inc. a nationally recognized community development corporation on the west side of Chicago. Nelson is the creator of an asset-based model of community development taught nationally and internationally in communities, universities and seminaries on asset-based community. She serves on a number of Boards and Commissions and is the most recent past Chair of the Board of Sojourners, a national faith, policy and advocacy organization.

About The Chair of the 2015 Parliament

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

Imam Mujahid was thrice selected as one the 500 most influential Muslims in the world in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Imam Mujahid is president of Sound Vision Foundation, which produces Radio Islam, America’s only daily Muslim call-in talk show. Imam Mujahid has written extensively on religion, public policy and applied aspects of Islamic living. As the national coordinator of the Bosnia Task Force, USA, he successfully led efforts to declare rape as a war crime.

The Grandson Carrying Gandhi’s Legacy Forward, Dr. Arun Gandhi

The 5th Grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, Arun Gandhi was born in Durban South Africa. Dr. Gandhi was sent by his parents to India when he was 12 years old so that he could live with and learn from his grandfather. It was there he learned the principles of non-violence that he continues to espouse today. Dr. Gandhi spent much of his adult life in India inspiring massive social and economic changes for oppressed families and children.After coming to the United States in 1987, he started the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in 1991 and in 2008 Dr. Gandhi started the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, with its mission to build basic education schools for the very poor children of the world. Dr. Gandhi has taken the message of nonviolence and peace-making to hundreds of thousands of high school and university students throughout the United States and much of the Western world, and has authored several books. 

Connect with Gandhi Worldwide
Education Institute

The World of Interfaith, Parliament 2015 Coming to America

The Parliament Board voted to hold the next Parliament of the World’s Religions in the United States in 2015. Dates and city will be announced shortly.

The Board of the Parliament voted this weekend to hold the next Parliament in the United States in 2015. The next Parliament marks the fifth modern Parliament and the first American Parliament in 22 years.

“America is the home base of the interfaith movement and it’s about time the Parliament come back home. The Parliament in 2015 will strengthen the interfaith movement through our listening, sharing and networking with each other,” says Chair of the Board Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid.

The interfaith activism in North America has at least doubled in the last 10 years, whereas it is sprouting all around the world where people who have never heard of the interfaith movement are now becoming part of it. As the next generation connects to issues of peace, justice and sustainability it is time to introduce these emerging leaders to the Parliament.

Dates and location will be announced shortly.

Since 1993, more than 37,000 delegates of 80 countries have come to the Parliament representing 50 plus traditions in programs, plenaries, cultural exchanges and dialogue. Parliaments held in the USA, South Africa, Spain, and Australia have amassed a global interfaith community committed to the advancement of a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

We Want To Hear From You:

As the Parliament prepares to announce the next host city please kindly share with us your preferences on themes, plans and costs as we create a Parliament 2015 for you.

Open Short Questionnaire…

Please stay connected in the coming days for these important announcements:

  • Parliament 2015 Host City Announcement
  • Parliament 2015 Dates
  • Exclusive Pre-Sale Registration Instructions for Parliament Ambassadors, Supporters, and Partners
  • On-Sale Dates and Rates to attend the 2015 Parliament
  • Sponsorship and Exhibition Details
  • Program Proposals
  • Pre-Parliament Events Planning Around the World
  • Volunteer, Intern, and Professional Openings with the 2015 Parliament

Become a Parliament Ambassador!


Join a select network of global Interfaith advocates conducting listening sessions with their communities to create the next Parliament. Ambassadors extend the Parliament platform for mobilizing people of faith for social action in their local communities and play an indispensable role in the evolution of the Parliament movement. Read more…

Parliament Leaders Address Cities Interested to Host 2017 Parliament Event

Twenty international cities hailing from interfaith, municipal, and tourism institutions gathered to learn about the bidding process to host the 2017 Parliament on a webinar held July 10. Parliament Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid and Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson addressed the group on the history of the Parliament, the growth of the Interfaith movement, what happens at a Parliament, and the logistics of building a local organizing team.

10,000 activists from around the world come to share their faith at the Parliament. Mujahid explained why this is an attractive prospect for cities wishing to increase social cohesion and global tourism. It was also noted in the presentation that Nobel Laureates, Bill Gates, Tony Blair, Pope Francis and more leaders are now publicly vocalizing strong support for the interfaith movement. Endorsements from leaders as such represent a growing interdependence between secular and religious institutions in social, governmental, and humanitarian endeavor.

While presenting a multi-million dollar international gathering is a large undertaking, Dr. Nelson shared ways that corporate and faith-based sponsorships combine with civic partnerships to creatively and financially bring the Parliament to life.

An overwhelming response, half from U.S. cities as well as half from first world and developing countries indicates the demand for interfaith is growing universally. Representatives shared their desire to become a Parliament city in efforts to diminish local tensions and build harmonious relationships.

A question and answer session with Dr. Nelson and Imam Mujahid also provided attendees the opportunity to engage both Parliament leaders on ways to submit an optimal bid. Cities are currently sharing letters of intent to submit full bids for the 2017 Parliament.

For more information on becoming a Parliament city, please contact Office Manager Stephen Avino at stephen@parliamentofreligions.org

‘We Refuse to Be Enemies’ Declares Israel-Palestinian Peace Camp in the West Bank

The Statement of the Vision Camp held in July 2014 in the West Bank affirmed by 50 peacemakers of Jewish and Arab descent, joined by international activists.

Fifty peacemakers joining from Israel and Palestine have just completed a five-day “Vision Camp” the organizers say responded to the violence “exploding through the Middle East.” The West Bank-based camp reported through Facebook (and supported by a vocal campaign on Causes.com) sharing a culmination statement declaring “We refuse to be enemies.”

Over the week the activities captivating a mass following on social media inspired  countless shares, likes, and comments to stand against a growing vitriol  polarizing Jews and Muslims by stating #JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies. Like organizations connected promoting moving images of demonstrations held in other Israeli locations.

The 50 campers speaking boldly for peace were moved to assemble stating, “today, in this turbulence, peace workers from Israel, Palestine and other countries are beginning a five-day vision camp in the West Bank. In the middle of the war they hold a peace vigil and create a frequency of calmness in which mutual perception, sharing, deep listening, clear thinking and vision building is possible. They say, “We refuse to be enemies.” And, “Together we can give a clear sign to end the war.”

 

‘Sorry’ written in candles in Hebrew and Arabic Displayed at the demonstration July 26, 2014 in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
Image Credit: Lisa Waldbaum

THE STATEMENT, July 26 2014 

As peaceworkers from Israel, Palestine and various other parts of the world, we have been holding a peace vigil in the middle of a war in the West Bank over the last several days. We are gathering here under very simple conditions, creating community life, sharing from our hearts, in silence and in tears, in the midst of shootings and bombings. We are bearing witness and trying to stay in Grace. We have been faced with this senseless killing every day. There have been more than 1000 human victims during the last three weeks. In the last days three Palestinians were shot in the village near the place where we are staying. In these days, we have been faced with untold pain, suffering, desperation and speechlessness; we are also coming face to face with many different opinions and inner and outer struggles.
What we all agree on is: Enough! Stop this killing. No solution can come from war! Each innocent victim of this war is one too many! We refuse to be enemies. We are calling out to all parties: Stop this war! Our feelings are beyond words, but we can no longer be silent. The civil population is being lied to on both sides, and the world is mostly silent and misled by the media. It does not take much political education to recognise the injustice of this war. Many countries are delivering weapons and enriching themselves through the war. But who sits next to the beds of the injured children and crying mothers? Who feels empathy with their bleak destiny? Who heals the wounds, dries the tears and eases the pain of all those who have lost family members or beloved friends?

We, as members of humanity during this vision camp in the midst of the war zone, are striving to convert trust, peace, justice and compassion into realities rather than mere words. This makes us feel like new children from a new earth where war does not exist.
One of our Palestinian participants said, „In 2001, I decided to stop being a victim. We are not two sides; we are one side. We have one common enemy: hatred.” How many more innocent people have to be killed, how many more generations will have to carry guns so their people can feel safe? Are we aware that every killing creates new hatred, new fear and more revenge?

We have decided not to stay silent! We have decided to step out of powerlessness. We have decided to step out of the hypnosis of fear and raise our voices. We have decided to step out of our personal identification and look beyond all the different worldviews towards the fundamental healing of trauma. Compassion is not a question of worldview! Compassion is the emergency call of planet earth and the heart of humanity.

Together, we wish to create a clear and resonant voice, a voice for transformation! Killing cannot lead us to a free or protected land. We are shedding our tears and transforming our pain into a powerful NO! NO to this killing – no tolerance for the violation of human rights, regardless of its source. Israelis will never feel safe, and Palestinians will never be free, unless they begin building mutual relationships of trust and respect. And this land will never be holy while we keep watering it with blood.

Thousands of people are already taking to the streets and demonstrating that they, “refuse to be enemies.” May we grow in numbers and presence! The global system of domination thrives through our powerlessness. We can change this feeling of desperation and powerlessness into readiness for transformation. A true nonviolent revolution starts within ourselves.

We envision breaking the cycle of victimisation, occupation, hatred and revenge. We envision the awakening of the humane heart. We envision millions of people, all over the world, who no longer allow the economically motivated globalisation of war to be carried out on the backs of uncounted innocent women, men and children.
Now, it is our task to demonstrate credible alternatives: stepping out of the system of complicity and stepping into a network of solidarity and compassion. For years now, many of us have been working on new models for living. We are aware that those who are against war need a vision for peace.

This peace vigil is only the beginning. We are committing ourselves. We will dedicate our lives to finding solutions wherever we are.
We love our countries, our homes, and this earth. We declare ourselves to be global citizens for peace! Let us raise our voices: Another life is possible.

We are calling out to specialists from all areas – doctors, water experts, ecologists, technologists, peace activists, decision-makers, spiritual leaders, peace journalists, film-makers, politicians and each and everyone of you: Let us come together and put our wisdom to work! Let us overcome the walls of separation. Together, we will create completely new ways of sharing this planet.

Connect,  like, and share: https://www.facebook.com/aVisionCampinIsraelPalestine

Download the statement of the 50 participants of the Vision Camp here:
Hebrew: http://www.tamera.org/fileadmin/PDF/We_refuse_to_be_enemies_-_heb.pdf
English:http://www.tamera.org/fileadmin/PDF/0726_We_refuse_to_be_enemies_-_statement.pdf
German:http://www.tamera.org/fileadmin/PDF/0726_We_refuse_to_be_enemies_-_statement_-_de.pdf
Portugese:http://www.tamera.org/fileadmin/PDF/We_refuse_to_be_enemies_-_statement_-_pt.pdf

August 1st, 2014 at 10:12 am

Imam Mujahid Congratulates Rabbi Saperstein

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, preaches at a Washington, D.C., service in 2002. He says the Ten Commandments continue to be featured artistically in synagogues. Photo courtesy of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions Board Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid extends congratulations to Rabbi David Saperstein on his nomination by President Obama to lead the United States Department of State Office of International Religious Freedom. Saperstein who serves as Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism would become the first non-Christian to take the office now vacant for nine months.

Board Chair Mujahid welcomes the unprecedented move of the Obama Administration to advance a Jewish Rabbi to lead the office first established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

Mujahid’s congratulatory letter highlights Saperstein’s “admirable record of touching humanity through faith-based justice,” and commends his expert leadership as an example of how progress can be achieved through engaging the guiding institutions.

In addressing the interfaith movement at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, Saperstein hosted an engagement session entitled “The State and Religious Freedom,” and was featured prolifically on panels including:

  • Poverty Must No Longer Be With Us with Huruhisa Handa, Jim Wallis, Katherine Marshall, Dr. A T Ariyaratne, Tim Costello, Sulak Sivaraksa and Sr. Joan Chittister
  • Democracy and Diversity in Global Perspective with Anwar Ibrahim, Pal Ahluwalia, Bishop Peter Elliott, Dr. M Din Syamsuddin, and Dr. Barabara McGraw
  • The Role of Religion and Spirituality in the Public Discourse with Archbishop Philip Freier

Designated in Newsweek’s 2009 list as the most influential rabbi in the country and described in a Washington Post profile as “the quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill,” Rabbi David Saperstein represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The Center not only advocates on a broad range of social justice issues but provides extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues nationwide, and coordinates social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.

Read more about Rabbi David Saperstein.

 

 

 

Remembering Margot Adler: a Loving Tribute by Parliament Trustee Phyllis Curott

Wiccan Priestess, NPR Journalist and Author Dies at 68 

Pagan Elders (l – r): Dennis Carpenter ,Selena Fox, Raymond Buckland, Margot Adler, Phyllis Curott, Andras Corban-Arthen

An interview on NPR’s Interfaith Voices with Phyllis Curott and historian Ronald Hutton about Margot Adler’s influence on contemporary Paganism will air Aug. 1-7 on NPR’s 74 stations across N. America; here’s the full list of when and where.

By Phyllis Curott
Parliament Trustee, Women’s Task Force Co-Chair

Margot Adler, one of America’s first public Wiccan Priestesses and author of the groundbreaking study of contemporary American Paganism, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today” (1979), passed away at her home in Manhattan on Monday, July 28th. She was 68.

Margot was also a reporter for NPR, working since 1979 as a journalist, political and cultural correspondent, host of “Justice Talking,” and New York bureau chief. She preferred stories about everyday people and her series on life in New York after 9/11 was often cited for its compassionate and salutary effect on the city’s recovery. Central Park, where she spent countless hours as a “birder,” was a favorite subject for stories, and like all of her features, were imbued with warmth, intimacy and wise appreciation.

These qualities, and an impish sense of humor, also made Margot Adler one of modern Paganism’s most beloved figures, a welcoming presence to the thousands of newcomers who found the movement because of her thoughtful book or because of her early willingness to publicly identify herself as a Witch when that word still provoked distorted stereotypes of Satan worshippers or wacky spinsters. Her courage and capacious intellect challenged and helped transform these misconceptions, and the media and its audience reconsidered their biases when confronted by Margot’s sophisticated New York sensibility which integrated a bachelor’s degree in political science from Berkeley, a master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and in 1982, a Nieman fellowship at Harvard, as well as a family background which included her grandfather, noted psychiatrist Alfred Adler.

Margot’s death is a great personal loss for those who knew and loved her as a friend, three of whom have served as Parliament Trustees – myself, Angie Buchanan and Andras Arthen.

Margot and I met 35 years ago, both members of what was then a small, hidden community of Wiccan practitioners in New York City. We shared similar educational and cultural backgrounds, an interest in the return of the Goddess and the role of women as spiritual leaders, which appealed to our feminism, and an appreciation for the ecstatic and joyful practices that revealed the Divine embodied in the natural world. We worked together over the years, in public and private, teaching and celebrating and I treasure every moment shared, every memory created. Most precious of all is Margot’s immortal enthusiasm which was so deeply rooted in the term’s Greek origin, entheos: “to be inspired or possessed by a god, to rapt, to be in ecstasy.”

Countless homages posted on numerous social media sites affirm her impact on the personal lives of fans and followers, and her unique contribution to modern Paganism as one of the fastest growing spiritual movements in the United States. Margot Adler played an essential role in the rebirth of ancestral religious traditions as a vital new spirituality and that inspiration will continue, for what we remember, and those whom we remember, live.

With gratitude,

Phyllis Curott,

New Suffolk, NY July 30, 2014

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 Magazinehonored 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.Phyllis Curott

 

New Parliament Ambassador on Creating California-Based Children’s Interfaith Organization First Drops

Children of Orange County, California participate in the First Drops program, the first of its kind in California created by Parliament Ambassador Farrah Khan after her son posed questions about other faiths.

Orange County, California area interfaith program First Drops teaches children about a variety of religions through fostering relationships and taking different religious sites and experience it for themselves. The curiosity of children and their eagerness to learn about religion fuels the organization. Parents and community members provide children resources as a means of learning about many religions. They also participate in monthly community service projects including feeding hungry families, as well as many more projects and activities. Recently the children’s filming of “An Interfaith Carol” submitted to the World Interfaith Harmony Week Film competition won in its category. 

Farrah Khan, a new Ambassador of the Parliament and founder of First Drops shares the following reflection on how this kind of active interfaith community cultivates respect for everyone.

First Drops was founded in the Spring of 2011.  The idea came from the need to answer various questions my son who was in 5th grade had about religions.  Even with my knowledge, I knew that it would be best for him to get his information from the source, so I took him to my friend’s church.  He enjoyed the experience of attending mass, that’s when I knew I had to do more.  I called up a few friends whose kids were the same age as mine and asked them if they would be interested in joining up for small discussions.  The group of six kids and parents developed into an organization in less than two months.

Currently, First Drops educates children and their families about the many religions that surround them through site visits.  Each site visit is a unique experience.  The host facility usually gives an over view of their religion, provides a tour of the facility, and an opportunity to observe or engage in their religious service followed by a Q & A session.  Then we usually are invited to a more casual setting where members of the congregation and our First Drops families have a chance to mingle and munch on snacks.  This is a great learning experience because the child has an opportunity to experience the religion rather than reading about it in a book.  The children have visited during Christmas Mass, Easter Mass, Purim, Celebration of Nirvana (Buddhism), Celebration of Ridvan (Baha’i) and much more.  These experiences are what will become a lasting memory.

Our children also engage in community service.  Every 2nd Sunday of the month, the children serve 100-150 homeless people in the Santa Ana downtown district.  The families prepare the food and the children serve each guest.  This has taught the children that respect for humanity comes first.  After the first few feedings, the children began looking into ways to help our brothers and sisters living on the streets.  So each month, the children come up with ways to help even more.  During the rainy season, the children collected 200 rain ponchos and passed them out.  These ponchos were either bought by the children’s own money or by asking friends, family and neighbors to purchase them.  On Mother’s Day, the children passed out flower bouquets to every woman.  The flowers were contributed by Trader Joe’s.  We have held several clothing, toy and book drives throughout the year.

The children are welcome to use their own ideas to help foster a more compassionate world.  They have produced an interfaith film called “An Interfaith Carol” which won the World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival first place for Youth Film.  They are regular participants at the Irvine Global Village Festival and The Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council’s Celebration of Thanksgiving where they sing interfaith related songs.

We are teaching the children that in today’s world, it is important to work with others to improve.  We partner with CROP Hunger Walk and collect money to help feed the needy around the world.

First Drops was recently asked to come under the Orange County Interfaith Network’s umbrella.  This opportunity will give us access to over 12 interfaith councils and grow the organization.

My personal desire is to bridge the gap between those of us who are currently working in the interfaith arena and our next generation.  One day, we will all be on the same page and the world will see peace.

As the World Prays for Peace, Milwaukee Interfaith Clergy Offer Strong Spiritual Leadership

Widely shared image of two boys united by interfaith harmony and friendship symbolizing a groundswell cry for peace as violence and war batter the Gaza strip in July 2014.

Originally appeared in Milwaukee Journal Sentinal July 17, 2014, as reported by Annysa Johnson. 

More than 100 faithful from a variety of religious traditions gathered at Milwaukee’s All Saints Cathedral on Wednesday to pray for peace in the Middle East, a response to the escalating hostilities in Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“Worshippers sang “Donna Nobis Pacem,” or “Grant us Peace” in Latin, Hebrew and Arabic. And Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Unitarian clergy offered their prayers and insights into what it means to work for and live in peace.

“It was very touching and profound,” said an emotional Mary Kelly of Milwaukee, who is Catholic. “There is just such a feeling of helplessness,” around the issues in the Middle East, she said.

“We have such a long way to go — in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Milwaukee. I’m just happy that this congregation saw the need to pull us all together.

The service was organized by the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, which works to find common ground among religious traditions. Like other flashpoints in the Middle East, the Gaza crisis has heightened tensions in Milwaukee’s Jewish and Muslim communities, which tend to view the conflict from different perspectives.

Here are excerpts from the prayers offered Wednesday, in the order they were spoken:

The Very Rev. Kevin Carroll, dean of All Saints Cathedral: “We can pray for peace in far off lands. But our prayers will ring hollow if we ourselves fail to model what peace looks like — in our homes, in our families, in our relationships and in our communities. …Peace starts with prayer. But it also starts right here, right now, with all of us sitting in this room.

Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hying, Archdiocese of Milwaukee: Loving and peaceful God, help us to see ourselves and each other as you see us, beautiful; created in your image; open to love; hearts that are made for peace and good will, sacrifice and generosity. … Help us to love as you love, to forgive as you forgive, to be an extension of your mercy and your peace in this world, and to be signs of your kingdom in our midst.

The Rev. Craig M. Howard, Presbytery of Milwaukee: Deliver us from the hardness of heart that keeps us locked in violent confrontation with one another. Give to us your spirit of love so that we may show compassion. Teach us to walk in humility so we might live in peace with our sisters and brothers. And most of all, God, change our hearts.

Zulfiqar Ali ShahIslamic Society of Milwaukee: Almighty God …we are ruthlessly subjugating, terrorizing and killing each other based upon narrow identities. Guide us to stop this needless violence, terror, aggression, cold blooded murders and destruction. … We beseech you to bring an end to this needless bloodbath and wanton destruction.

Rabbi Ronald Shapiro, Congregation Shalom: Teach us to work for the welfare of all people, to diminish the evil and pains that beset us. And to enlarge those virtues we know will bring dignity and peace to all the peoples of the earth. So bless our striving to make real the dream of peace among all humankind. May we put an end to the suffering we inflict upon one another and cherish the dignity of the soul that abides in each human being.

The Rev. Linda HansenUnitarian Universalists: We pray for the power to see that we are all connected … and that we ultimately help or harm ourselves in helping or harming one another. Out of this vision, may we have the will and the courage to work for a just and peaceful world in which every individual is treated with dignity.

The Rev. Stephen J. PolsterWisconsin Conference United Methodist Church: And so we pray as we gather here … that you will strengthen our resolve to give witness to the truths by the way we live. Give to us understanding that puts an end to strife, mercy that quenches hatred, forgiveness that overcomes vengeance. Impart all of us here and everywhere to live in your law of love.

Swarnjit Aroraof the Sikh community: We are children of one God. … Then how can we say one child is better than the other child. All children in your eyes Lord are sacred. … We pray for peace in the Middle East. Oh God … Give us strength to stand up for peace and non-violence in our world. … We pray for chardi kala, the well-being of each and every human being.

The Rev. Jean Dow, pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church: Though we come from different places and express our faith in different ways, give us a common concern, that we may share our deep convictions as people of faith and continue to pray and work together side by side, hand in hand. And Let us pray without ceasing for peace first within our own minds hearts and spirits, so that each of us might also be instruments of your peace and bearers of reconciliation in this city, in our neighborhoods, in our families and in our faith communities.

Interfaith 2015 Calendar Representing 17 Communities On Sale Now (RESOURCE)

Learning about the religious holidays of neighboring faiths is a positive personal step, but displaying an interfaith calendar in a home, school, business  or workplace communicates interfaith pride to those around you 365 days a year.

The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago is offering the opportunity to purchase a nationally-recognized calendar which can serve as a personal and promotional tool for interfaith advocates.

Hanging an interfaith calendar as a gesture alone strengthens the interfaith experience more every year. Building affinity for the experience of others, showcasing a commitment to building community relationships, and celebrating religious diversity are some of the main ways interfaith art communicates the importance of the movement with those around us. For planning and organizing interfaith events, a specialized interfaith calendar is also an essential tool.

When choosing an interfaith calendar for 2015, the CRLMC calendar is rated highly for the number and diversity of faiths represented, its design quality, educational merits, and importantly, that the proceeds of the interfaith calendar support interfaith action. Comprehensive calendars like this recognize a wide spectrum of communities and include the dates and significance of lesser known holy days.

The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago’s  Interfaith Calendar is on sale today representing the traditions of 17 different communities. The specs on the product details and ordering procedures are as follows:

  • The 2015 InterFaith Calendar is a spectacular 14″ x 22″ full-color, twelve-month, wall calendar produced with the cooperative effort of 17 Religious Communities.
  • The InterFaith Calendar includes summaries of the basic beliefs, practices, religious writings, art and [U.S.] demographics of each faith community, and features a listing and explanation of religious observances.
  • Early bird pricing discount applies for orders placed before October 1, 2014 with several payment options available by Paypal, Credit-Card, Check, or Money Order by post, e-mail, or phone
  • Prices are reduced for bulk orders over 10
  • The shipping fees can be billed after receipt of shipment
  • Order Form Available Here (Click to open/download)
  • For orders, Visit the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago website, Call 773-595-4012,  or email the Council at info@crlmc.org

This calendar means so much to the CRLMC’ that the Council recently honored its champion, Ms. Ilene Shaw, with one of  three inaugural Interreligious Leadership awards alongside the Cardinal of Chicago’s Archdiocese and one of the most respected Rabbis in Chicago, who was the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religion’s Spokesman.

In a statement, the CRLMC stated, “Mrs. Ilene Shaw, who, under the auspices of the CRLMC, “has made possible the production of an InterFaith Calendar featuring 17 different faith traditions describing their basic tenets, beliefs and observances.

The calendar is recognized nationally as an excellent vehicle to promote interfaith understanding and respect.”

If your organization is supporting the interfaith movement through educational products please contact the Parliament with shareable information.