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Educating Religious Leaders for a Multi-Religious World

by CPWR Trustee Anantanand Rambachan

Participants of the first meeting of the Task Force on Phase II of Educating Religious Leaders for a      Multi-religious World.

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions was pleased to facilitate an interfaith gathering of 17 key leaders, representing 10 different faith traditions to explore the preparation and role of religious leaders in an increasingly interreligious world. The meeting was held on October 7-8, 2012 in California at the Claremont School of Theology of Claremont Lincoln University.

Little attention has been given to the nature of leadership or leadership education across religious and spiritual traditions. Still less is known about the role of multi-religious considerations in the preparation of religious leaders in most religious and spiritual communities.

This group will gather again in the spring 2013 in New York to continue its study of the nature of leadership and leadership education across religious and spiritual traditions.  Specifically, the Task Force focuses on the role of multi-religious considerations in the preparation of religious leaders in various religious and spiritual communities.

Educating Religious Leaders for a Multi-Religious World is a project of The Council for a Parliament of the World Religions and funded by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

Attached is a photo of Participants of the first meeting of the Task Force on Phase II of Educating Religious Leaders for a Multi-religious World.

Their names and titles are:

Back Row, left to right: 
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Director, Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives; Associate Professor of Religious Studies Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Mr. Jeff Albert, Bahai Representative; Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, CPWR Board Member and Department Chair and Professor or Religion, Philosophy and Asian Studies, Saint Olaf College; DrDonald Swearer, Phase I Project Task Force Member and Harvard Divinity School Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions; Dr. William Lesher, Former CPWR Chair; Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Community Outreach, Islamic Society of North America

Front Row, left to right:

Mr. Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California; Dr. Heidi Hadsell, President, Hartford Seminary; Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, Professor of Law, T. C. Williams School of Law, University of Richmond and Founder and President, KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights; Mr. Kuldeep Singh, President, Sikh Youth Alliance of North America (SYANA).

World Congress of Religions 2012

The World Congress of Religions 2012 is being organized by the Institute of World Religions (of the Washington Kali Temple), Burtonsville, Maryland, in association with the Council for A Parliament of World Religions, Chicago, Illinois.

Washington DC: Former (US) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Martin Luther King III, Professor Sakena Yacoobi, Dr. Katherine Marshall, Rabbi Neil Goldstein, Dr. Rajwant Singh, Dr. R. Drew Smith and 15 other eminent leaders are scheduled to speak at a 3-day conference focusing on respect and understanding between world religions, cultures and nations; efforts to eradicate poverty; promoting human rights; education and the empowerment of women.

The event commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of India’s visionary monk, Swami Vivekananda, who addressed the Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago in September 1893, passionately calling for both tolerance and universal acceptance as a path to eliminate the evils of sectarianism, bigotry and fanaticism and engage all the world’s religious and spiritual community leaders in efforts to forge a new global civil society.

The World Congress of Religions 2012 offers an opportunity to pave the path for a new era of cooperative action among the world’s religious and spiritual communities as well as civil and political societies. Such a gathering is urgently needed in the present context of the global interreligious movement and the striving for world peace.

The World Congress of Religions 2012 is being organized by the Institute of World Religions (of the Washington Kali Temple), Burtonsville, Maryland, in association with the Council for A Parliament of World Religions, Chicago, Illinois.

Use the code D7D8 for $20 off the registration price.

For more information and to register, please visit

North American Interfaith Network Connect Conference

Just a few of the featured speakers for the NAINConnect Conference in Atlanta this coming July. Photo from

The North American Interfaith Network’s annual Connect Conference will be taking place in Atlanta, GA from July 15th-18th, 2012. The theme of the conference will be “Establishing Interfaith-Friendly Cities.” To learn more and register for the conference, click here.

Second Global Conference On World’s Religions after September 11

The Dalai Lama returns to Montreal later this year on September 7, to address the Second Global Conference On World’s Religions after September 11, which will meet at the Palais des Congrès, almost after a decade following the events of 9/11.

Other renowned speakers include Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, world-famous author Deepak Chopra, Professor Tariq Ramadan, and Professor Robert Thurman. Professor Gregory Baum, recipient of the Order of Canada and Swami Dayananda Saraswati will also participate in the conference.

Under the theme of “Peace Through Religion”, the one-day event will include the unveiling of the latest version of a proposed Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World’s Religions, which has been on the anvil since 1996 and which is designed as a complement to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

“The aim of the conference is to bring together the various religions of the world in an ecumenical spirit to address the many issues facing the world today, in the hope that this will help all of us become better human beings”, emphasized the convenor of the event, Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at the Faculty of Religious Studies of McGill University.
Panel discussions with the speakers will seek to generate consensus around two fundamental social and religious issues:

  • Should a course on world religions also be taught whenever the confessional study or religion is carried out?


  • Should violating the sanctity of the scripture of any religion be considered tantamount to violating the sanctity of the scriptures of all religions?

The Conference is co-sponsored by McGill University and Université de Montréal.

Click here for more information

The Alchemy of Our Spiritual Leadership: Women Redefining Power

Women of Spirit and Faith are invited to gather in San Francisco April 28- May 1, 2011 for The Alchemy of Our Spiritual Leadership: Women Redefining Power. Imagine the energy of 300 women ready for inspiration, deep wisdom and potent co-creation. Keynote speakers Sister Joan Chittister, Valarie Kaur and Naomi Tutu. Stimulating Leadership Conversations, practical workshops, creative Open Space offerings and more. Information and registration available at

Alchemy Highlights

  • Inspiring Keynote wisdom from Sister Joan Chittister, Valarie Kaur and Naomi Tutu
  • Stimulating Leadership Conversations featuring the wisdom and experience of a dozen diverse women leaders
  • Informative workshops with a focus on building practical skills and new models for collaborative leadership
  • Many opportunities for circle dialogue and structured conversation
  • Optional activities such as Open Space Offerings, Morning Meditations, Yoga, Movement, Labyrinth Walks and more
  • The Alchemy Marketplace where you can shop for books, jewelry, art and music
  • A Beautiful Meditation and Prayer Room for silence and reflection
  • Art, music, poetry, laughter and lots of right-brain fun and stimulation

Click here for more information

T.I.D.E.: An Interfaith Conference for Teens, by Teens

The Teenage Interfaith Diversity Education (TIDE) Conference is planned and led by teens who want to have their voices heard and their presence felt as a positive force in the global community. A three-day event planned by fifty high school students of diverse backgrounds, the conference seeks to train teens to communicate respectfully and use their skills in discussions about highly charged issues; develop leadership and facilitation skills; and foster bonds and friendships among the youth in attendance that will continue after the conference. Conference attendees will participate in workshops, dialogues, and other activities throughout the weekend that allow them to discover more about themselves and their own understanding of personal identity; learn about the beliefs and identities of others; and make their voices heard at a conference that has been planned by high school students specifically for their peers. This is an exciting opportunity to see future leaders in action! Adults working with teens attend a parallel but separate adult track at the conference. The conference is sponsored by Interfaith Action, Inc. in collaboration with the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University.

Click here for more information and registration

Pope Says Science Can Unite Humans With God

From Huffington Post/RNS

By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI told scientists that their research can lead to knowledge of God by revealing the natural order of the universe.

The pope made his remarks on Thursday (Oct. 28) before a plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican.

The evident logic governing the universe “leads us to admit the existence of an all-powerful Reason, which is other than that of man, and which sustains the world,” Benedict said.

“This is the meeting point between the natural sciences and religion,” the pope said. “As a result, science becomes a place of dialogue, a meeting between man and nature and, potentially, even between man and his Creator.”

Click here to read the entire article.

October 29th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Dalai Lama Offers Interfaith Views on Wellbeing

From USA Today

Is everybody happy today? And what would that mean? Does God want you to be happy now? How?

Emory University’s Center for the study of Law and Religion brought on the biggest international pro on happiness,, the Dalai Lama, yesterday to chat in a round table with major voices of world religions: the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; British chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University.

Did the Dalai Lama say anything surprising at the Happiness Summit? Not according to his Twitter fans, who get frequent snippets of Buddhist wisdom uploaded by His Holiness’ staff such as:

According to my own experience, the highest level of inner calm comes from the development of love and compassion.

Anyone want to speak against that? Not likely.

Later this week you’ll be able to check out the big thinkers’ conversations on YouTube. But leading up to this, as part of the university’s five year research drive, the Pursuit of Happiness Project, they also loaded up videos from Emory experts from world religions.

Click here to read the entire article.

U.N. Partners with Faith Groups

From CNN

Editor’s Note: CNN White House Producer Xuan Thai filed this report from the U.N. General Assembly.

It might be called a match made in heaven. The United Nations is partnering with faith based organizations and their vast network of donors, development groups, and grass roots organizers to bring aid to developing countries around the world. You could say they are putting their money where their mouth is. Except both groups have been putting money up for a long time.

Last week during the annual U.N. General Assembly, the United Methodist Church announced a five year, $75 million pledge to the United Nations’ Global Fund, the first of its kind for the fund.
For 47-year-old Joyce Kamwana, the partnership is a validation of sorts, one she has long been looking for.

Kamwana is from the small southeast African nation of Malawi. She learned she was HIV positive in 1988. Her husband, Dan, brought the disease home. Luckily their two daughters were spared. Since then, Kamwana’s life has not been easy, especially within the church.

At first, the church was “condemning us. They say we deserve it because we have done something wrong so it was like a punishment from God,” Kamwana said of the initial reaction to her illness.

“It’s been difficult because way back then, having HIV was like having leprosy in the biblical times,” said Kamwana, who also lost her job as a result of her HIV status.

“There was also the stigma due to little information and so many people didn’t want to associate with me.” But the tide has turned and churches are now a fundamental part of the army working to combat the disease. Specifically Methodists and Lutherans are delivering the potent mix of passion, grass roots knowledge, and cash.

Click here to read the entire article.

September 27th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

ISNA Holds Interfaith Press Conference


(Washington, D.C. Sept 7, 2010) Directly following the interfaith summit, organized by ISNA and held in Washington D.C. today, members in attendance held a press conference and issued a joint statement to the public regarding unified action for faith communities to promote tolerance and combat anti-Muslim rhetoric, hate crimes, and Islamaphobia.

The press conference, telecast live on CNN and CSPAN, included statements from members of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths to discuss the critical need for members of all faiths to protect the safety and civil rights of Muslims. A member of the interfaith summit stated, “Hate is neither a religious nor democratic value.”

In an excerpt from the interfaith statement issued at today’s press conference, the faith leaders stated,”Religious leaders denounce anti-Muslim bigotry and call for respect for America’s tradition of religious liberty. As religious leaders in this great country we have come together in our nation’s capitol to denounce categorically the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed to the American Muslim community. We bear a sacred responsibility to honor America’s very favorite traditions and to promote a culture of mutual respect in assurance of religious freedom for all. In advance of the ninth anniversary of September 11 attacks, we announce a new era of interfaith cooperation…silence, silence, silence is not an option.”

The press conference spanned topics ranging from the role of ISNA and the interfaith community in protecting civil rights, the growth of the Muslim community, to the proposed Quran burning in Florida, to which ISNA President Dr. Ingrid Mattson called all Muslims to exercise the principles of Islam and this Ramadan of patience and remember that “although we are upset, we are alarmed, (by the acts of Quran burnings), our community should feel confident that God’s eternal words will live on. The Quran will not disappear with the burning of a book because millions of Muslims hold it in their hearts.”

To view the entire statement of interfaith action issued today at the summit, please click here. To watch the entire press conference from today, please click here.

Click here to watch the press conference.

September 15th, 2010 at 6:00 am