The Parliament Blog

Parliament United Nations Task Force Forms to Enhance Relations, MDGs

Flags flying high at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
Credit: UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto

The Parliament of the World’s Religions is dedicating a new task force to move forward since becoming a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) associated to the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN-DPI) in late 2013.

The newly-formed The United Nations Task Force of the Parliament is now meeting to explore ways that the Parliament can collaborate with other NGOs to carry forward its mission, and to more fully integrate the Millennium Development Goals into its work overall.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Board of Trustees, is encouraged by the potential of this new Parliament initiative stating,

 

The Parliament has high expectation in developing a deeper relationship with the United Nations since it is one of the important guiding institutions for humanity. The Parliament’s UN Task Force is just a first step in the right direction. We are also looking forward to working with other interfaith organizations at the UN to enhance our desire to have better Intra-Interfaith cooperation.

 

Excited for the work ahead, the Parliament announces those comprising the United Nations Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions are:

Dr. Kusumita Pedersen: Co-Chair of the Parliament UN Task Force, Board Trustee
Rev. Dr. Anne Benvenuti: Co-Chair of the Parliament UN Task Force, Parliament Representative to the United Nations, Board Trustee
Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski: Parliament Representative to the United Nations, Board Trustee
Rev. Phyllis Curott: Parliament Representative to the United Nations, Board Trustee
Ms. Sara Rahim: Parliament Youth Representative to the United Nations, St. Louis University Student
Mr. Tahil Sharma: Parliament Youth Representative to the United Nations, University of LaVerne Student
Dr. Aisha al-Adawiya: Founder and Chair of Women in Islam
Mr. Naresh Jain, Parliament Trustee Emeritus, Founding Member of Educare
Ms. Kay Lindahl, Parliament Ambassador Advisory Council Member
Dr. Mary Nelson (Ex-Officio), Parliament Executive Director
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid (Ex-Officio), Chair of the Board of Trustees, Parliament of the World’s Religions

Dr. Kusumita Pedersen reflects that “between all its members, this task force has many years of varied experience of work in the NGO world connected to the UN.”

The Parliament supports the DPI in its aim of widening public knowledge of the UN, so watch this space for items about the UN and its multi-faceted work, and look forward to getting to know each of the Parliament Task Force members in the months ahead through profiles in our newsletter, features on Facebook, and activity reports.

Most recently, the Parliament Women’s Task Force was co-host of a parallel event to the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women which was held March 3 – 15. On March 11,the gathering in New York City joined spirits world-wide for Remembering the Sacred Heart of Your Activism: An Evening of Prayer, Reflection and Inspiration convened by organizers Women of Spirit and Faith, Gather the Women Global Matrix, Millionth Circle, We Are Enough and United Religions Initiative, and more.

The Parliament as always shares a deep commitment to cooperation and commitment toward a just, peaceful, and sustainable world, and is gearing to offer many more opportunities to enhance work on these critical goals as 2014 continues.

The Divine Feminine Emerging, Embodied, and Emboldened

By Kathe Schaaf and Kay Lindahl for The Interfaith Observer

Finally…

Circle of Wise Women Candlelamp – Photo: goddessgift.net

We can’t help but notice that the world seems to have suddenly ‘discovered’ the value of women. After thousands of years living in the shadow of the masculine, after being pushed into the margins of power and leadership, after being silenced in every cultural institution – including most of the major world religions – the media today is full of messages that it is time to listen to women’s wisdom.

Women’s leadership styles are being acknowledged widely in diverse segments of the global media:

  • Research articles from the field of neuroscience suggest that women’s brains do indeed work differently than men’s, giving us more capacity for the kind of functions required to address the complex issues facing our planet: multi-tasking, integration, cooperation, and contextual thinking.
  • A headline during the recent budget impasse in the U.S. Congress declared “Women Lead While Men Bicker.”
  • Micro-lending programs in Africa and Asia frequently identify women as key to their success; not only are women more marginalized in poor countries but they are also more likely to make decisions that will benefit both family and community.
  • Even the world of religion has begun to acknowledge the importance of women’s voices and leadership. Pope Francis recently called for a “more incisive female presence” and a broader application of “feminine genius” in the life of the Church.
  • Sojourners recently launched a Campaign for Women and Girls that supports the equality of women in ways that are both practical and theological. The cover of their January 2014 Sojourners magazine boldly states, “Twisted Theology: Churches that still treat women as inferior are distorting the image of God.”

The Divine Feminine Rising

While all of this sudden attention on women, leadership, and feminine spirituality is exciting, it is important to pause a moment and listen deeply for the heartbeat of the Divine Feminine guiding, informing, and inspiring this complex global movement. The Divine Feminine is indeed rising, despite all the jagged history which repressed Her and despite the reality that women have been offered little legitimate space in which to practice feminine ways of being and doing. She rises in individual women and in the thousands of organizations they have created around the world. She rises as women struggle to bring a different style of leadership – and a new matrix of assumptions and values – to the institutions, initiatives, and corporations which shape our culture. And many believe She rises now on behalf of this troubled planet.

Continue Reading…

Kathe Schaaf is a Trustee Emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and Co-Founder of Women of Spirit and Faith. Kay Lindahl is on the Ambassador Advisory Committee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and Co-Founder of Women and Spirit and Faith

Heshima Kenya Showcasing Somalian Women Humanitarians at Chicago Premiere Screening (Parliament Sponsored Event)

The Parliament of the World’s Religions is pleased to support the Chicago premiere of Through the Fire hosted by Heshima Kenya and the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation.

Via Heshima Kenya:

The acclaimed documentary, Through the Fire, will premiere at the Lake Street Screening Room in Chicago on Monday April 7th. Hosted by the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation and Heshima Kenya, the screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Dr. Deqo Mohamed, CEO of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation and daughter of Dr. Hawa Abdi.

After over two decades of war, Somalia has been portrayed internationally as a lawless state marred by piracy, conflict, and famine. However, Through the Fire presents a different side of Somalia, telling the stories of three courageous Somali women who never gave up on their country. The three women, Dr. Hawa Abdi, Dr. Edna Adan, and Ilwad Elman, are icons of strength and resiliency.

  • Monday, April 7, 2014
  • 7 :00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. 
  • 70 E. Lake Street Suite 1604

General admission is $20.00 and $15.00 for students. Tickets will be sold at $25.00 at the door. Only 40 tickets are available for this exclusive screening, so buy now as they are anticipated to sell out quickly.

Funds raised from the screening will go directly towards supporting Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation’s work in Somalia. Additional donations are welcomed at the event. 

RSVP on Facebook here upon ticket purchase. 

About the Speaker


Dr. Deqo Aden Mohamed is the daughter of Dr. Hawa Abdi. She was born in Mogadishu, grew up feeding the refugees her mother was harboring, and earned an MD in Moscow in 2000. She was an OB-GYN resident in Russia up to 2003. She continued to go back to the internally displaced camp, which hosted up to more than 90,000 people at one point, to work during her holidays. She came to America as a refugee in 2003 and gained extensive experience working in healthcare. She became a naturalized American in 2008.

Today, she works full time on the ground in Somalia. She leads all operations in the Hawa Abdi Village in Lower Shabelle, while ensuring the safety of the 300 families who have found permanent shelter in the community. She leads the 400-bed Dr. Hawa Abdi General Hospital, the Waqaf-Diblawe Primary School, a women’s education centre, and a smart farming agriculture project. She simultaneously manages the administrative aspects of DHAF as CEO of the organization in the United States.

Besides her work, Dr. Mohamed regularly attends conferences and speaks on behalf of DHAF, her mother’s lifework, and on Somalia. Recently, she was invited as a guest speaker at the World Forum on Human Rights in Brasilia, Brazil, and participated in a ceremony on kidney diseases in Chennai, India. Dr. Mohamed has been featured on media outlets such as TED, the Leonard Lopate Show, and the Daily Beast.

For Seminarians, Nobel Forum Lecture from Dalai Lama Plants Important Questions

The Dalai Lama takes questions from moderator Cathy Wurzer Saturday, March 8 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

A few days ago I joined with about 30 other students and staff members from Luther Seminary, and carpooled over to the Minneapolis Convention Center where we had the great joy and privilege of hearing His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak live at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

The event was well worth the effort- and the long security lines provided the time for a lengthy conversation with a Chinese colleague and her teenage son. We sat together throughout the event- and it was fascinating to see my friend’s own joyful and passionate spirit connect with the joy that seems to emanate from His Holiness. Having come from a culture in which he is portrayed as a criminal, I can only imagine what was going on inside of my friend during those two hours.

Interestingly, the beautiful ceremonial Tibetan dancing and singing which opened the program provided a point of connection for her. Though the art and culture of the Tibetan people has been much suppressed, yet she was able to recognize – through the music and dance – a culture that was connected to her.

In preparation for the Dalai Lama’s visit, a number of us seminarians read his book Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together (Harmony, 2010). The discussion groups around this book study produced fruitful ground for conversations. In one discussion I was at a table with two Ethiopian students and a student from Liberia. We pondered the Dalai Lama’s own testimony of how, through his forced exile, he was placed in a religiously pluralistic culture (India) and thus was forced to confront his own assumptions regarding the superiority of his Buddhist faith. Through meeting spiritual people of many faiths he reached a place in which he is firmly convinced that respect for all religions can be found in a shared commitment to compassion.

For him this position is not in conflict with a profoundly deep commitment to his own faith. In fact it is only through his own deep experience with the divine that he is able to relate to another’s experience of the divine. Thus he states that the “naïveté [of his youth] could be sustained only so long as I remained isolated from any real contact with the world’s other religions.”

The Dalai Lama’s insights into interfaith dialogue rooted in and flowing from relationship spoke powerfully to me and my African colleagues. Together we explored questions of how our religious convictions often become linked to assumptions of accepted conflict and presumed enmity.

How can religions possibly work together in contexts in which the only picture we have of the other is one of extreme violence? Some of the Christians around the table had witnessed churches burnt at the hands of Muslim extremists. How, we asked, could dialogue and peaceful coexistence ever happen in the aftermath of violence?

Could the Dalai Lama be right when he suggests that we human beings are fundamentally “wired to love?” Could he be right in his insistence that “compassion— the natural capacity of the human heart to feel concern for and connection with another being—constitutes a basic aspect of our nature shared by all human beings … [and that] in this respect, there is not an iota of difference between a believer and a nonbeliever, nor between people of one race or another[?]”

Arthur Murray is a Master of Divinity Student at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

It was wonderful to spend time with His Holiness, to witness how he embodies and emanates compassion and peace in his words and through his being. But perhaps, for me, the even greater value of his visit was that he spurred a new conversation in our seminary community, and opened up new possibilities for relationship in real and tangible ways in our context.

Inspired By Our Foremothers in Seneca Falls, Women’s Interfaith Institute Breaks New Ground

In Seneca Falls, a “mecca for women’s rights advocates,” the Women’s Interfaith Institute is breaking new ground.

By Allison Stokes
Ambassador, Parliament of the World’s Religions

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Dr. Melinda Grube) and Attorney Nadia Shahram meet in Seneca Falls to talk on International Women’s Day 2014 —across religious traditions, countries of origin, and centuries! Photo by Dave Duprey

It seemed like a good idea at the time. The church in Seneca Falls had a For Sale sign in front with a “Price Reduced” banner across it. The structure, built in 1871, stood next door to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, which was established to commemorate the first women’s rights convention in 1848 and to preserve the Wesleyan Chapel where the gathering was held.

This church would be an ideal location for calling public attention to the pioneering leadership of women in the Interfaith Movement. So it was that leaders of the Women’s Interfaith Institute incorporated as a non-profit, educational organization in New York State in 2002 in order to raise funds for a deposit to purchase the late 19th Century Wesleyan Church.

An appeal letter went out to potential donors, and their response was heartening. Many agreed that the site would be perfect for an organization whose mission is “Women supporting women of diverse faiths in generating spiritual leadership, scholarship and service.”

Contributions large and small came in, and in 2003 we purchased the church. As far as we are aware, the Women’s Interfaith Institute’s home in Seneca Falls is the only structure in the U.S. dedicated to promoting women’s interfaith (or multi-faith) efforts.

Seneca Falls draws visitors from all over the country and the world; because it is a destination for persons passionate about women’s rights and human rights, it provides an ideal context for the Institute’s work of bridging boundaries– whether religious, racial, ethnic, cultural– that have traditionally divided people. We seek a more inclusive human identity.

The Women’s Interfaith Institute in Seneca Falls, New York was a dream conjured by Parliament Ambassador Allison Stokes and made come true by a town famous for women’s movement. Today it is the hub of programs trailblazing model relations across diverse religious women groups in the U.S., specifically building upon significant history of female leadership within the Interfaith movement chronicled by the Institute.
Photo: Madeline Hansen

During our ten plus years of programming, we have offered a variety of lectures, seminars, films, workshops, retreats, and celebrations as we endeavor to “bring peace to life.” Most recently we have been focused on learning about Islam and bringing Muslims and persons from other religious traditions together.

Programs breaking ground then and now

A grant from the New York Council for the Humanities made it possible for the Institute to break ground last spring (2013) in offering a “Muslim Journeys” reading and discussion group. We chose five books with stories about and by young Muslims: How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? (Moustafa Bayoumi), Acts of Faith (Eboo Patel), Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi), Minaret (Leila Aboulela), and Broken Verses (Kamila Shamsie).

Ten women gathered in six monthly sessions to share comments, questions, insights, reflections, personal stories, and (at the close of every meeting) refreshments. Because we came from different faith traditions, including Quaker, Baha’i, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic, our sharing was rich, and our learning from one another profound. We especially valued the perspectives of Busaina and Musawar, a Muslim mother and daughter in our group, who are from Pakistan.

This year in March, Women’s History month, the Institute joined with another non-profit in Seneca Falls,  the Women’s Institute for Leadership and Learningto offer a unique dialogue. The event, featured Buffalo attorney Nadia Shahram, an author, activist, and Muslim women’s rights advocate, in dialogue with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a convenor of the first women’s rights movement. Stanton was portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube, an historian and adjunct professor who has studied Stanton’s works and life extensively, and uses her knowledge to bring Stanton seemingly to life. This remarkable discussion, entitled “Declaring Equality: Renewing a Legacy,” crossed religious traditions (Muslim and Christian), cultures (Iranian and American), and even centuries (19th – 21st).

Institute board member and former mayor of Seneca Falls, Diana Smith, observed that the remarkable conversation was between two legal minds though generations apart. Diana noted,

Both shared surprisingly similar stories of childhood experiences which served as inspiration to effect change, including the motivation to learn the law. Stanton was especially angered by the unjust treatment of women who came to her father for legal counsel, only to find that the law provided little protection or regard for women.

While Shahram’s legal expertise helps women improve their lives through the judicial process, Stanton suggested that in the mid-nineteenth century, that would not be possible. She said her father likely pushed her to learn the law not to practice it, but rather to help her identify how to change it.

The Institute’s upcoming program, to be held during Seneca Falls Convention Days on July 18th and 19th celebrates the first 1848 convention. Highlighting Muslim women’s experiences, the Saturday events have been conceived and planned by attorney Shahram and some her law students in Buffalo. The focus will be unveiling of “A Declaration of Equalities for Muslim Women” written on the model of the Stanton’s original “Declaration of Sentiments.” Nadia writes,

This document is a list of demands and sentiments that aspire to identify and amend laws which are discriminatory, oppressive, and prejudicial towards women in many Islamic countries. We are insisting on reformed legislation that is consistent with equitable human rights for women. Through these actions, we hope to contribute to the efforts of numerous individuals and organizations dedicated to the ongoing battle for progress and fair treatment of women throughout the world.

A detailed listing of the many and varied Convention Days 2014 events is in development – watch for a complete schedule soon to be posted on the official Convention Days website.

From the Ashes of a Fire, Interfaith Family in Seneca Hills Stands Tall

A number of the Institute’s programs are being held at the National Park next door, whose hospitality we gratefully appreciate. This is because five years ago, in March 2009, there was a fire above the ceiling in our Great Hall (former church sanctuary), immediately after renovations were completed. Caused by old, live, electrical wiring, the damage to the roof and building wasn’t so much fire damage, as water damage, necessarily caused by the fire fighters.

The challenge of recovering from this devastating event has sometimes been overwhelming. The donations of volunteer help, especially from Hobart and William Smith Colleges students, and of contributions to replace a roof that was only 5 years old, have been heartening. We are particularly grateful for a generous donation from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. With this we were able to complete the roof repair in August, just as President Obama stopped by to visit the National Park. (Secret Service agents ordered roofers OFF the roof during the duration of the President’s visit!)

When the challenges we face seem particularly tough, we recall Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her sister suffragists, and the obstacles they faced. Few lived to see the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the vote. As Stanton wrote, they were “sowing winter wheat,” not necessarily expecting to see the fruits of their labors.

Allison Stokes

We in the Women’s Interfaith Institute are inspired and encouraged by these pioneering foremothers, even as we feel that in similar, though different ways, we are breaking new ground ourselves.

Allison Stokes is Founding Director of the Women’s Interfaith Institute. The organization was incorporated in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts in 1993, and continues there. This article profiles the programs and founding ten years later of an affiliate, Women’s Interfaith Institute, a sister group in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York.

Parliament Women’s Task Force Announces Tibet House Partnership Presenting Multi-Religious Speaker Series

The Parliament of the World’s Religions Women’s Task Force is excited to announce its participation in the Multi-Religious Speakers Series on the Sacred Feminine and the Vital Nexus of Religion and Women’s Issues organized in partnership with the highly esteemed Tibet House in New York City.

Program speakers featured in the series will be accessible to women around the world through the Parliament Webinar Series later in 2014.

The series will premiere with Ukranian spiritual teacher Nadia Reznikov hosting an advanced Tantric and Shamanic workshop for women at Tibet House April 4 and 11.

More information on the Tibet House schedule and how to register for the premiere event is available here. 

Nadia Reznikova

Nadiia Reznikova or Nabhasvati (“Shining”) is an extraordinary spiritual practitioner and teacher from the Ukraine who is making her first appearance in the United States at Tibet House. She has developed a system of tantric, shamanic, and psychotherapeutic practices for women which can produce immediate and dramatic improvements in emotional balance, joy, relationships, physical health, and inner and outer beauty. The practices are designed to naturally and powerfully elevate mood and energy state, enabling even new students to manifest desired changes within, as well as in their relationships and environment. These simple, daily practices have been proven effective tools of spiritual transformation for women of all walks of life and in all areas of life. Her shakti energy has been found to be directly transformative by many, and at the same time Nadiia teaches daily practices which may be done by students on their own.

EVENT: Global Women’s Prayer Circle to be Held in New York for UNCSW March 11

Via the Parliament Women’s Task Force/Women of Spirit and Faith:

Alchemy 2 mandala.jpgJoin in an evening of prayers from many faith traditions and circle dialogue exploring your commitment to women and girls and your intentions for this 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW). All are invited to Remembering the Sacred Heart of Your Activism: An Evening of Prayer, Reflection and Inspiration on March 11.

PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYER, NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN THE WORLD - MARCH 11:

Even if you cannot be in New York for our prayer event at the UN Commission on the Status of Women on March 11, you can join us in prayer wherever you are. We invite you to light a candle and offer your own prayers on behalf of the women and girls of the world that day. You might even gather in circle with women from your community.

Event details:

Remembering the Sacred Heart of Your Activism: An Evening of Prayer, Reflection and Inspiration
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 | 5:30 – 8:00 pm
The Hospitality Space – Episcopal Church Center
815 2nd Avenue | (between 43rdand 44th)
New York, NY

FREE AND OPEN TO ALL

RSVP required to womenofspiritandfaith@gmail.com

Co-hosted by the Parliament’s Women’s Task Force, Women of Spirit & Faith, Gather the Women Global Matrix, Millionth Circle, We Are Enough and United Religions Initiative, and more! 

March 4th, 2014 at 11:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized []

Reflecting from Russia on World Interfaith Harmony Week

The Parliament of the World’s Religions recently welcomed Ermolina Galina of Siberia to the Ambassadors program. The following reflection shares the story of her interreligious community in Novosibirsk, Russia, observing the United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week.

World Interfaith Harmony Week inspires community gathering and interreligious excursions for Siberian residents. Shared by Parliament Ambassador Galina Ermolina.

The world we live in is overloaded with hatred these days, and religious conflicts bring us to disasters. What we need today is to change the paradigm of thinking from confrontations to understanding that we belong to one world, to one planet, to One God, whoever God is for each one of us.

My friends and I- being very much concerned about the situation- made attempts to find a possibility of cooperation between representatives of some religious institutions in our city, Novosibirsk, Western Siberia, (Russia).

In the beginning, I would not say we were very successful. Like anywhere, some religious representatives here are not yet able to speak cooperatively about different religions.

So when news came that the United Nations proclaimed a Week of Inter-religious Harmony from February 3 up to February 9, 2014, we decided to participate in a cultural excursion program organized by one of the public organizations working for peace in our big city since we had done events together in the past.

The purpose of this project was to get acquainted with representatives of the religions, to learn more about their unique qualities, so that it would become possible to start mutual cooperation of understanding and sharing on the basis of the Golden Rule.

Every day of the week, a group of people interested in the subject planned to visit this or that religious center, or church, or cathedral, following the list:

  • Bate Menahem Synagogue
  • Catholic Cathedral
  • Mosque
  • Church of Jesus Christ (Mormons),
  • Christian Church and Center of the Vedic Culture (Krishnaits)

On one of the days, a concert for veterans was performed by the student-volunteers of the Federation for Peace.

I managed to visit three events of the Week: Bate Menahem Synagogue, Church of Jesus Christ (Mormon) and Center of the Vedic Culture (Krishnas).

Personally, I have already been aware of diversity in interfaith relations because I have been many times during the last ten years in the Interfaith Community of the great Saint Baba Virsa Singh in Delhi and Punjab, where I have been significantly trained and acquired experience on the subject. Also, I have tried to stay active over the last three years as a member of the United Religions Initiative.

At the end of the week reflecting on the events of Harmony Week I have come to the conclusion that the event was not only interesting for the participants, but we learned a lot and gained new experiences in relations between the people of different religions. We hope that managed to make new friendships, for almost everywhere we were welcomed to come again.

“Unity in diversity” is one of most important slogans in the world, and we had an opportunity to see it in practice. Unity and oneness was manifesting itself in the warm hospitality, peaceful atmosphere of the meetings everywhere.

However, when our group approached the Russian Orthodox Church, we were given a chilly reception with the comment that special written permission was needed.  Unfortunately, many of us have faced difficult policies and responses, and this may be one of the reasons for us to join the Interfaith movement.

It was such a disappointment for all, and the situation was saved somehow by one participant who suggested to go the very special Exhibition “Holy Religious Places” of Siberia, situated quite nearby. The exposition was created by Dmitriy Dobryi who started this project a few years ago after the vision of Saint Princess Olga who told him to collect paintings, photos and other artifacts of Churches and other religious institutions of Novosibirsk region in one place for the people to see them. He himself made an incredibly beautiful embroidery portrait of St. Olga.

People like Dmitriy are those fanatics who are devoted to the values of religion, which means “connecting with the Highest.” The fact that this exhibition exists and works is a miracle itself, for there is no financial support from officials, either church or civil.

Coming back to the issue of diversity I would say that have come to the comprehending the method which every religious institution applies to attract people to their congregation.

Belonging to Synagogue, first of all, one feels protected in the midst of the surrounding world, one feels being a member of one powerful community, where one can get help if needed. It attracts even the people belonging to other religions due to the nationality or native traditional religion.

We didn’t feel any attempt to woo us into converting to this religion. Even if one can have different points of view on some fundamental things, but one can admit and accept those values which are strong within Jewish Community.

The visit to the Mormon Center was a pleasant one as well. Most of the missionaries are young smiling people from the USA speaking good Russian. From the speech of the center leader we received a lot of information about the origin of Mormon movement, its history and the development of the movement today.

We were given some materials to read at home as well. Even though the Mormon Teaching itself is difficult for me to follow, our event was devoted not to discussions or disagreements, but to finding the things which we all have in common, which can bring us to cooperation.

The Golden Rule says: “By thy God”, not by mine. It is important to Mormons to proclaim love to Jesus and God.

Chowing down on delicious Indian-style food in the vedic house of worship during World Interfaith Harmony week in Siberia!

The last event, visiting Vedic Center was quite different from what we have seen before. Most of the people present there were young, and some come with children. I have been many times in India, and at some moments felt as if I was again there. The highlight of that evening was a presence of Indian Swami Ji, who had been touring through Russia for more than a month. He addressed the audience with a nice and wise talk, speaking about love and harmony between people, despite difference in religions.

Of course, he said much about Krishna and Krishna movement all over the world. That Swami Ji is a good example for spiritual leaders; he managed to connect vedic knowledge with every day life challenges in a good, not scholastic way.

I asked him a question what way would he suggest to stop violence in the world and the answer he had given made me happy, because it completely coincided with my thinking:

we should begin with changing the way of our thinking, with cleansing our mind. That’s what Baba Virsa Singh used to say again and again.

Bombs and bullets will not change the world,at any rate –to a better world.

It is known that “joy is a special wisdom,” and appeared that the Vedic group of people sincerely follow this rule through ritual dancing and singing. I don’t want to say that this is an example for all to follow, but they enjoyed that evening.

After talks and dancing, everyone was invited to have traditional vedic food, of course vegetarian. One of the guests belongs to the Orthodox church and came out of curiosity.

In a way the events and experiences of our project was a reflection of the situation between religions today.

In two days we came together to share experiences, reflection and for planning our future cooperation with the religious institutions of the city, taking into consideration the experiences we had during the Harmony week.

Celebrating Compassionate City Council Resolutions Passing in Atlanta


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!

 

 

 

Wednesday Deadline for NAIN 2014 Workshop Proposals

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.

Via Nain:

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.

Enter submissions here.