Archive for the ‘solidarity’ tag
How Did The Sacred Spaces Solidarity Pledge Come About?
How Suzanne Morgan Measures The Impact Of The Solidarity Pledge
The fact that all eight congregations got up at the podium, read their tradition’s declaration and signed the pledge on behalf of that tradition, along with Vance Henry of the Mayor’s office, and the CPWR, was amazing and touching. The proof of its effect, for me, was when a man working on the stage and sound setup came up to me afterward. He said to me, ‘My wife and I are having problems; Monday we are going to a marriage counselor. Well, after what I have witnessed here today, people of these different faiths, known by their fighting around the world, agreeing to work together in the face of any defamation or threat to their religions, certainly, I can work things out with my wife!’That did it for me!
Deep Connections Over Year Two Programs
Congregation Sinai invited each of the communities to view thought provoking documentaries with a presentation by a panel of speakers and Muslim-led open dialogue. Chicago Sinai also invited each of the communities to an educational Seder dinner fostering love of neighbor and interfaith understanding.
During UN designated World Interfaith Harmony Week, The Downtown Islamic Center demonstrated the hospitality of Abraham by hosting a meal and dialogue workshop: Beyond Separation, Seeds of Change, Dialogue Skills for Cultivating Interreligious Cooperation. A Program of Dialogue for the Common Good, LLC. In addition, Islamic prayers were explained, followed by open dialogue to respond to curious participants.
Also during World Interfaith Harmony Week, the Midwest Buddhist Temple and Sacred Spaces jointly hosted a New Year celebration programmed to release the hardships and limitations of the past and to plant seeds of hope and peace. All the religious communities were invited to share and present at this experiential interreligious New Year’s ceremony, dining on symbolic Japanese cuisine and refreshments.
Fourth Presbyterian Church invited the Sacred Space communities to the Community Grand Opening of their newly constructed Gratz Center followed by an Open House. Guests enjoyed lively conversations together, appetizers, and live music. Fourth Presbyterian Church also hosted an event with world-renowned speaker Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman of the Cordoba Institute and member of the Interfaith Center of New York.
Old St. Pat’s Catholic Church invited the Sacred Spaces religious communities to their annual Memorial Service for the homeless attracting so much attendance it became a standing room only event.
Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist invited the religious communities to participate an intimate experiential Mid-Week Prayer Meeting focused on “How Can We Feel Safe in the Face of Danger.” The evening began with sacred readings from Holy Scripture and Mary Baker Eddy’s works, and progressed into quiet time in between open dialogue, as participants felt compelled to share.
Saint James Episcopal Cathedral ended the second year of events with a Concert & Photographic Display, “Portraits and Voices” by Michael Nye on Mental Health Disorders in the United States.
Sharing Sacred Spaces in Hyde Park, Chicago Launched, Too
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religion’s Sharing Sacred Spaces program has two objectives for interreligious community building in a neighborhood or city: (1) to facilitate a collection of diverse congregations to become comfortable with each other and enthusiastic about signing a pledge of solidarity agreeing to stand with each other in the face of antireligious defamation or threat and then (2) to see that newly bonded group select a humanitarian issue in their neighborhood/city to address, and articulate a way to implement a solution together.
A May 5 event at First Unitarian Church completed a yearlong program from the Sharing Sacred Spaces project in Hyde Park. Six South-Side Chicago congregations agreed to each hold an event at their sacred space for the purpose of interreligious engagement for those attending, including KAMII congregation, Ellis Avenue Church, Chicago Theological Seminary, Augustana Lutheran Church, St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
The Sunday afternoon events began in October of 2012 and were completed this May. A second year of events is being planned to continue the engagement. The Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council has been in existence for over 100 years, mainly consisting of Christian denominations in the Hyde Park area. With the SSS program, they plan to widen their vision to include additional traditions in new ways.
INTERFAITH EVENT FRIDAY: Solidarity Circle for Father Solalinde and the Caravan Opening Doors to Hope
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in partnership with the DePaul University Office of Religious Diversity is convening a special one hour solidarity circle for interfaith leaders to meet Catholic priest, Padre Alejandro Solalinde, and his Caravan Opening Doors To Hope.
Solalinde is traveling the U.S. with a large group of victimized migrants turned activists who have experienced human rights abuses in Mexico. The story of 70,000 Central American brothers and sisters disappearing over the last few years, while Solalinde has been imprisoned and arrested for his work operating a network of shelters is shocking. We are helping share this story and honor his bravery.
NOTE: This event is being produced to connect university-level Interfaith leaders with Padre Solalinde’s entourage, but we are inviting you as guests of CPWR.
In this hour we will…
-Hear words from Mexico’s 2012 Human Rights Award recipient
Watch a short film documenting the reality of the migrant train in Mexico
-Welcome Amnesty International to recognize the work of Padre Solalinde
-Share our blessings and offerings to the migrant activists
-Extend our wishes for peace and security to the caravan
-Personally connect Chicago’s young interfaith leaders with a hero to a humanitarian crisis
TO ATTEND: All are welcome, but for seat reservations contact molly@parliamentofreligion
by Roger McKinney
from Joplin Globe
JOPLIN, Mo. — Some local Christians and others who attended an event Saturday at the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque said they are saddened and dismayed about the fire that destroyed the mosque Monday morning.
The Rev. Frank Sierra, of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, called Saturday’s gathering “a great event.”
“Instead of labeling people, we get to see them as fellow human beings — children of God — and that breaks down a lot of walls,” he said.
All were unanimous about their support for members of the Muslim community in their time of hardship and their outrage over the burning of the mosque.
“This is a threat to a group of law-abiding citizens in our midst,” said Paul Teverow, with the United Hebrew Congregation, who was at Saturday’s gathering and was at the mosque to offer condolences Monday morning. “The people of Joplin should share the same sense of outrage.”
He said such incidents are something much deeper when a place of worship is destroyed.
“I just feel a lot sadder,” he said.
He said ties between the mosque and synagogue go back many years, and that the connection would continue.
“This strikes very close to us,” he said. “They’re our extended family.”
Jill Michel, pastor of South Joplin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), echoed the sentiment.
“They’re our brothers and sisters,” she said. “These are caring and compassionate people who are making a difference in our community. Their grief must be ours. It just has to be. That’s what our faith tells us.”
All those associated with the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions offer our deepest condolences for the members of the Sikh gurdwara of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and our heartfelt concern for the sense of anguish and loss being experienced throughout the Sikh community worldwide, in the wake of the senseless shooting on Sunday, August 5th.
Any act of violence is abhorrent. When it targets a religious community—in their sacred space, engaged in worship—it is especially difficult to fathom.
The Council joins the worldwide interreligious movement in recognizing all that the Sikh tradition engenders in its followers: the deep devotion, the ethical clarity, the sense of communal solidarity, and the unwavering belief that all human beings are equal in the sight of the divine. The origins of Sikhism had an interreligious dimension—in the founding mission of Guru Nanak—giving it a unique relevance and poignancy for the challenge of promoting harmony and understanding across diverse communities and traditions.
The fact that, in the first hours after the shooting, the news media struggled to describe Sikhism accurately speaks to the work that needs to be done by the interreligious movement in acquainting the wider public with the diversity of communities and traditions in their midst. Though such knowledge may not have deterred this gunman in his rampage, it can only help reduce the number of incidents of harassment and violence in the future.
The world should know that any person, Sikh or non-Sikh, is welcome at a gurdwara anywhere, to be received with graciousness, offered a meal, and shelter, if necessary. This sense of hospitality that the Sikh community embodies has had a profound impact on the mission and work of the Council. The generous offering of langar—a sacred, blessed meal central to its communal practice—by the Sikh community at the 2004 Parliament in Barcelona is still remembered and cherished by all those who gathered for that event.
—Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
“It is not an act of ‘random, senseless’ violence. Sikhs, Muslims, Latinos and Africans are increasingly targets of rising hate in the United States. These attacks are sanctioned by a political culture that tolerates hate speech and promotes xenophobia. As hate is rising in the nation, it is critical that the forces of faith mediate anger into the positive energy of relationships. We must build a stronger interfaith movement for our children and the planet. I stand in solidarity with our Sikh neighbors.”
—Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair, CPWR Board of Trustees
“My wholehearted sympathies and ardent prayers are with the innocent victims of senseless violence in the Sikh community in Wisconsin.”
—Dr. Robert Henderson, Vice Chair
“My heart and prayers go out to the families and the Sikh community. This hate and violence upon a peace loving community makes the work of the Parliament towards interreligious understanding and helping our country towards inclusive and caring community all the more urgent and important. I pledge my support.”
—Dr. Mary Nelson, Vice Chair
“Yesterday was a troubling day, not only for Sikh-Americans, but for all Americans. We need to re-double our efforts to promote mutual respect and understanding. In the midst of this anguish and pain, we must also pray for the family of the assailant.”
—Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Secretary
by Elana Ashanti Jefferson, Kurtis Lee and Kristen Browning-Blas
from The Denver Post
Few things soothe like the familiar.
For parishioners in and around Aurora on Sunday, that meant coming together for worship and perspective in the aftermath of a far-reaching act of public violence.
Church leaders rose to the occasion.
“You can’t just not mention it,” Eleanor VanDeusen, religious education director for children and youth at Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, said of Friday’s movie-theater shooting that left 12 dead and dozens more injured. “When these horrific events happen, we really come back to that idea of community and connection.”
Sierra Graves, 20, Derrick Poage, 22, and Naya Thompson, 22, went together Friday to see “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 theater. After an anxious, sleepless weekend and several national media interviews, the friends were together again Sunday, calm and composed, for an uplifting 11 a.m. service at Restoration Christian Fellowship, about 2 miles from the shooting site. The service began with 20 minutes of prayer and reflection around the massacre.
Eight communities in Chicago sign solidarity pledge after visiting each other’s sacred spaces.
by Sarah Fentem
To Suzanne Morgan, the scene Sunday afternoon in Federal Plaza—a bright, white tent, a podium and lectern placed in front of folding chairs, the blindingly bright springtime sun—had the feeling of a graduation.
And for good reason. The stage was set to celebrate the completion of the eight-month Chicago “Sharing Sacred Spaces” program, a series of interfaith events during which eight participating Chicago communities of faith and practice invited others into their sacred space, engaged the visitors around matters of their faith, and provided hospitality and conversation. Morgan, a retired architect, designed the program, which was sponsored by the Council for the Parliament of World’s Religions(CPWR).
Participating communities included a Buddhist Temple, a Jewish Reform Congregation, the Downtown Islamic Center, an Episcopal Cathedral, and United Methodist, Christian Science, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches.
photos by John White
By Sunday, all the communities had shared their sacred space with one another, and were gathered together for the first time not to focus on an individual space or religion, but to celebrate the harmony and diversity of the group as a whole.
“It really solidifies what we’ve done,” Morgan said of the event.
“This is the beginning of the journey, not the end,” said Dirk Ficca, the Executive Director of the CPWR. Ficca announced the success of the program “exceeded expectations” and the Chicago pilot program will be used as a model for 80 partner cities around the world.
Of the program, Morgan said herself she had “No clue how it would turn out,” explaining the success of the “Sharing Sacred Spaces” depended on the public’s involvement.
“We were amazed at how people took this up,” she said. “They wanted to connect, to share something.”
The diversity and harmony among the participating communities was underscored by the signing of the “Sacred Spaces” Solidarity Pledge, the focal point of the event.
The Solidarity Pledge speaks of the bonds of mutual respect and trust forged among the eight participating faith communities during the last eight months. By signing the pledge, they promise to support and respect each other, stand together against public disrespect or harm of any faith community, and to celebrate “shared values of justice, peacemaking, and harmony in diversity.”
As a representative from each location took the stage to sign the pledge, they also read a personal statement explaining what the pledge meant to their community. The statements were as diverse as the communities from which they came.
“We commit to this pledge because as Jews we know the history of bigotry and intolerance,” said Rabbi David Levsinky from the Chicago Sinai Congregation. Syed Khan, from the Downtown Islamic Center, referenced the “pledge of mutual support and defense” the Prophet Muhammed made with the citizens of Medina before he signed the pledge. And Kwang Oh, the representative from the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, said “We as United Methodists believe there is a God who loves us and calls for us to love one another, who insists we work with all people.”
The communities’ declarations showcased the philosophy at the heart of “Sharing Sacred Spaces”—that what makes us different ultimately can be what brings us together.
by Marc Schneier and Shamsi Ali, JTA
from Jewish Journal
As a rabbi and an imam, we deeply mourn the tragic loss of innocent lives in the murderous terrorist attacks in France. We express our heartfelt sympathy and compassion for the bereaved.
Amid the wall-to-wall media coverage of the attacks and their aftermath, one piece of the story has received less attention: the inspiring manner in which Muslims and Jews in France have stood side by side in denouncing these heinous acts.
Thousands of Muslims and Jews reacted to the savage killings of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse and the earlier murders of three French soldiers, including two Muslims, by joining together in solidarity marches in communities throughout Paris.
by Chris Stedman
from Huffington Post
When I was in high school, civil disobedience excited me. I participated in a school walkout in protest of the Iraq War, staged a demonstration outside of a conference for anti-gay “reparative therapy,” and regularly got together with friends to make T-shirts boasting our political positions. Though the underlying political motives behind these actions were sincere, I recognize in hindsight that a big part of why I was drawn to such activism was that it hinged on solidarity and cooperation.
I was reminded of these efforts this weekend, when I decided to take my Saturday night off to check out the Occupy America (a national movement born out of Occupy Wall Street in New York City) effort in my city.
I decided to go because I have been tracking it online for some time, and many of my friends and peers have been involved from the beginning. While the participants I encountered on Saturday ranged in ages, Occupy America has frequently been referred to as a “youth-driven” movement, and the statement isn’t without merit. Though participation has been and continues to be intergenerational, there seems to be a particularly strong representation from young people.
As a 24-year-old, I’m part of the Millennial Generation – the generation following Generation Y, born in the 1980s and 1990s. We’re a generation that, according to studies by Pew and others, is supposed to be unconcerned and unengaged with the political process. Yet we defied such classification by coming out in droves for the 2008 Presidential election, and I believe that the Occupy America movement is demonstrating once more that we can surprise prognosticators and muster up unanticipated energy and organization to mobilize for social change.
Still, we remain a generation that is, in some ways, defined by apathy. This is perhaps no more obvious than it is in Millennials’ relationship with religion.
by Ruth Messinger
from the Huffington Post
Last spring, my organization, American Jewish World Service (AJWS), asked its supporters to set an empty place at their Shabbat tables. This was a gesture to show solidarity with the hundreds of millions of people who go to bed hungry every night.
As I prepare for Passover, this year, I’ve decided to incorporate the empty place at my table as a new Seder ritual. This empty place will stand for all those around the world who still lack the basic freedoms that our Seders celebrate. I want my guests to understand that none of us will be truly free until marginalized people everywhere can realize their human rights — access to food and water, gender equality and freedom from violence, government accountability and transparency, access to education and health care, and the list goes on. So, before we begin to sip our first cup of wine, I and my guests will be reciting the lines below.
As we enjoy bountiful food and drink this night and remember our starvation in Egypt … We commit to support those who struggle today with the horrors of hunger.
Among those I’ll be symbolically inviting to join my Seder are the hungry. The Hagaddah itself invokes, “All who are hungry, let them come and eat.” This is more important today than ever, as more than a billion people globally are now living on less than a dollar a day. It is common for people in the Global South to spend 75 percent of their income on food, yet food prices have skyrocketed recently. And in Washington, politics have trumped compassion. Our government is putting the final touches on a federal budget that cuts by 11 percent food aid that is designed to help those who are starving.
By setting an empty place in solidarity with the hungry, I commit myself to promoting food justice by protesting cuts to humanitarian aid, and by supporting communities’ work to grow food.