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Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions
2009 Parliament of the World's Religions to be in Melbourne
On December 3-9, 2009, some eight to twelve thousand people are expected to converge on Melbourne, Australia, to participate in the next Parliament of the World's Religions. The city has been selected as a multilingual, multicultural, multireligious location. For its part, the city can hope that the Parliament will provide an opportunity for it to address its aboriginal reconciliation issues within a larger context. Emerging topics for the Parliament itself include (but are not limited to) social cohesion, poverty, the environment, indigenous peoples, and terrorism. Anticipated outcomes have been posted. Tthe Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) grounds its work in three principles: It seeks harmony, not unity. Its work is based on convergence, not consensus. Its methodology is facilitation, not creation of organizational structures. CPWR has announced that pre-Parliament events in 40 cities around the world will highlight the upcoming event and feature Melbourne as the host site.
The Parliament's web site names one impediment still not solved: "the selection . . . will become final when full funding has been secured from donors, communities, corporations and foundations, matching the funds pledged by city, state, and federal governments." Partners and sponsors are being sought. Schools and colleges are being invited to sponsor for-credit travel courses that would culminate in the 2009 Parliament.
The executive director of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) is Dirk Ficca, a Presbyterian minister. Presbyterian William Gepford is a member of the board of trustees and Donald Wagner, also a Presbyterian, is a trustee emeritus. Chair of the trustees is William Lesher, retired president of the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (pictured).
Good articles on the last Parliament, held in Barcelona (Spain) in 2006, have been authored by William Lesher and Thomas Ryan. A Toledo, Ohio, newspaper article gives a perspective from grassroots participants. Also see the remarks of Dirk Ficca on the occasion of the opening of the three-day assembly in Montserrat that preceded the general 2004 Parliament event. Download the report of the Barcelona Parliament and visit the web site where it is featured. Recordings from Barcelona are available. See also the Global Network CPWR web site.
Mexico is scene of a 2007 contribution from CPWR
The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) has been asked to organize a major international gathering bringing the interreligious dimension to the Universal Forum of Cultures event to be held in Monterrey, Mexico, on September 21-24, 2007. Interested persons are urged to mark their calendars for this Encuentro Interreligioso Mundialdel Forum Monterrey 2007.
Goldin Institute develops online networking and courses
In 2002, the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) received a large contribution for the establishment of the Goldin Institute for International Partnership and Peace. The institute was developed as the cornerstone of CPWR's Partner Cities effort that promotes social cohesion for metropolitan areas of the world with diverse populations.
Through the Goldin Institute's annual forums, persons from various cities are brought together to network and to share their innovations and best practices. They have discussed clean drinking water, social cohesion, and reconciliation. On September 30-October 5, 2007 in Cartagena, Colombia, they will address Reintegration & Prevention: Breaking the Cycle of Violence for Ex-Combatants and Vulnerable Children and Youth. Additionally, the institute has established a project on understanding and improving micro-credit programs, based on listening to the perspectives of recipients. Its initial focus ia a single village in Bangladesh.
Now a new program, an Online Institute, will offer web-based networking and courses, including an online seminar before the annual forum, related to the forum's theme for the year. Additionally, an internet My Institute program is designed "to create stronger social networks by facilitating discussion and new knowledge between all participants." Goldin Institute executive director Travis Rejman invites users of the web site to share experiences, learn from others, and work together on issues of common concern. Contact the Goldin Institute by e-mail for additional information. Read the latest newsletter online.
Chicago work of CPWR shared in UNESCO conference
Goldin Institute executive director Travis Rejman offered a plenary address at a December 2006 UNESCO-sponsored conference in Barcelona, Spain, on "Religions and Cultural Diversity: Mediation towards Social Cohesion in Urban Areas." Rejman shared six considerations for building social cohesion, beginning by describing the work of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions in the Rogers Park community of Chicago. The organizers of the Barcelona event invited the Goldin Institute to be an ongoing partner in creating a forum for sharing best practices. Nearer at home, the recently established interfaith center in Philadelphia has reported that its best practices have been informed by participation in the Goldin Institute's Partner Cities program.
Religions for Peace
Religions for Peace Eighth World Assembly adopts future goals
The World Conference of Religions for Peace convened its Eighth Assembly in Kyoto, Japan, on August 26, 2006, returning to the place where its first Assembly was held in 1970. At that first Assembly, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was represented. It has regularly supported the related U.S. council and the international organization since then. James Cairns, formerly a PC(USA) mission worker in Malawi, is a director of programs for Religions for Peace. Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick is among the religious leaders who serve as presidents of Religions for Peace, U.S.A.
The 2006 Assembly was attended by over eight hundred religious leaders coming from some seventy national and regional councils/affiliates -- Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Jains, Zoroastrians, and leaders from Shinto and indigenous religious traditions.
In his opening address to the Assembly, William Vendley, WCRP’s secretary general (pictured), spoke about the vulnerability of religions to being hijacked. Today they are being hijacked by extremists, politicians, and the media, he said, “and we as a human family are being held against our will.” A response requires that religious communities and leaders stand fast together.
Download reports, addresses, and statements from the conference. See a rather home-version Assembly video, which speaks at its beginning about removing "the fear of peace."
Note the highlights of the Assembly's outcomes:
- Confront violence" within our own communities whenever religion is misused as a justification or excuse for violence"
- Advance shared security in which all sectors of society assume collective responsibility
- Work to transform conflict through multireligious collaboration in Iraq, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Israel/Palestine, the Korean peninsula)
- Strengthen and equip a global network
- Address poverty through work for the UN Millennium Development Goals
- Mobilize women of faith, who "make available strength and hope when all seems hopeless"
- Launch a global youth network, who "choose hope because that is the only way forward"
- Confront violence against children and protect them, in the spirit of the declaration adopted at the 2006 UNICEF consultation
The newly-selected world council of Religions for Peace includes in its membership Setri Nyomi of WARC and Samuel Kobia of the WCC. American Leonid Kishkovsky (pictured), a former president of the National Council of Churches and a member of the WCC central committee from the Orthodox Church of America, is the moderator.Judith Hertz, interfaith co-chair for Reform Jews in the U.S., is one of the women members.
Assembly-related resources include:
- A toolkit for helping religious communities together act on behalf of the issues addressed in the UN Millennium Declaration -- eradicating extreme poverty; reducing child mortality and hunger; combating disease, including HIV/AIDS; achieving gender equality and universal primary education (See also maps useful as adjunct resources.)
- A manual for women of faith to transform conflict
Two Assembly-related videos may be viewed online: an award-winning 11-minute video shown at the opening and the closing video.
Religions for Peace works on issues of "shared security"
Following its assumption that religious communities can mobilize the largest social networks in the world, Religions for Peace is participating in the Helsinki Process initiated by Finland and Tanzania in 2002. The process seeks to provide a method for multi-stakeholder open dialogue that explores problems of globalization by focusing on what needs to be done and how it might be done. The contribution of Religions for Peace is a focus on "shared security," a concern highlighted of the Kyoto Assembly. As a result of globalisation, the concept of common security for all moves beyond the idea of national security, especially in a time when many conflicts have an internal element and not simply an external enemy. A working group convened in Alexandria, Egypt, in April 2007 looked at the relationship between security and the rights of people. Earlier working group gatherings have been held in Kyoto, Helsinki, and The Hague.
Senior Iraqi religious leaders convene under Religions for Peace
Religions for Peace, together with the Alhakim Foundation and New York University Center for Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West, brought together some eighty people, including tsenior Iraqi religious and other civil society leaders, at the United Nations on June 11–12 in an effort toward forging global partnerships and rebuilding an Iraqi national consensus for “Iraq for all Iraqis.” Hayder Karim, the Iraq coordinator for Religions for Peace, reports on the event.
Global Youth Network of Religions for Peace coming into being
Building upon the Religions for Peace Youth Assembly in Hiroshima, Japan, in August 2006 , members of the multifaith International Youth Committee (IYC) gathered in Ossining, New York, on February 16-18, 2007, to launch a plan for building a global youth network and begin strategizing how seed grants may be used for pilot projects. At the same time, Religions for Peace has shown its commitment to mainstreaming youth in the organization by its decision to hire a Program Officer for Networking who will be responsible for facilitating a youth network. The Ossining meeting was hosted by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers while Rissho Kosei-Kai contributed support.
Religions for Peace
Religions for Peace, U.S.A., defines key program areas
Religions for Peace, U.S.A., is a coalition comprised of leaders from over sixty U.S. religious communities and is part of the global network of seventy national and four regional bodies within Religions for Peace internationally. Its present key program areas are:
- Building community, helping build religious councils where none currently exist
- Addressing diversity, assisting Native Americans with a process of repatriation of ancestors' remains
- Examining the role of the U.S. in the world, sponsoring dialogues that enable diverse people of faith to address the issue
Religions for Peace, U.S.A. staff is youthful
Religions for Peace, U.S.A. provides a remarkable opportunity for young persons interested in interfaith relations. From its acting director to its newest interns, RFP-USA finds its staff leadership coming from the young and from their skills. Rori Picker Neiss (pictured) serves as the acting RFP-USA executive director. A new associate for finance and administration, Satoshi Ohno, is a native of Japan now studying for a master's degree at Baruch College. The large group of present summer interns includes Margaret Fuller, an MDiv student at Princeton Seminary, and Macmod Datugan, a Filipino Muslim who is a fellow of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program. The RFP-USA newsletter describes the interests of each intern, important in an organization that has found ways to use each's passions to further its corporate work.
Interfaith Academies in summer 2007 bring together learners
Religions for Peace, U.S.A. (RFP-USA) partnered with St. Paul's Seminary in Kansas City, the Pluralism Project, and Kansas City's interfaith council to sponsor an Interfaith Academy for Emerging Religious Leaders for two weeks in June. A sampling of what happened can be found through reading a blog by Rori Picker (pictured above), visiting a Kansas City web site, and listening to a local Kansas City radio program that includes an interview with Peggy Thomas (Presbyterian Christian), Tarunjit Butalia (Sikh), and Yehezkel Landau (Jewish, pictured). The July issue of RFP-USA's newsletter includes an encouraging public report on the Academies written by Rori Picker, RFP-USA's acting executive director. She describes the participants as "an example of what dialogue could be: mutual respect, without a sacrifice of commitment to one's own faith." She says "experiences helped them understand the perspectives of other people, while prompting them to ask hard questions of themselves."
New section of web site looks at the Convention on the Rights of the Child
The web site of Religions for Peace, U.S.A. has added a section on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which came into effect in 1990 and has yet to be ratified by the United States (and Somalia) though 193 countries have done so. The articles of the convention deal with the principles of non-discrimination; commitment to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the view of the child.
Religions for Peace announces formation of a new women's network
The international Religions for Peace Women's Mobilization Program, together with Religions for Peace, USA, is launching a new North American Women of Faith Network as part of a program of networks around the world organized for building peace, promoting sustainable development, and protecting human rights for all. Working groups will be created to develop the initial focus, themes, and objectives for the North American endeavor, and a gathering will be scheduled for the spring of 2008. Updates are expected on the Religions for Peace Women's Mobilization web pages, as they become available.
The Women's Mobilization Program is a co-convening organization in a new initiative started in 2006, the Women, Faith, and Development Alliance (WFDA). It brings together more than seventy organizations from North America and the developing world to help reduce poverty and promote gender equality, seek changes public policy, and increase funding for women/girls from the United Nations, national governments, and donor organizations. The official launching will be at a summit at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, in spring 2008 where leaders from the faith, corporate, developmental and political sectors will assemble. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a partner in WFDA as are Church Women United, the World Council of Churches, the Union of Reform Judaism, Baha'is of the United States, World Vision.
Directory of collegiate interfaith councils begun
A directory of some forty interfaith bodies on individual U.S. college campuses is now posted on the web, and Religions for Peace, U.S.A. is asking for help to identify any more such groups. Presbyterian Church-related institutions on the list include Centre College, Davidson College, Lafayette College, and Macalaster College. Look at the list and e-mail suggestions for any additions.
Project supports Native American burial of unknown remains
In 1990, Congress passed an act requiring the return of human remains and sacred objects to Native American tribes and nations from which they came. Now over 110,000 remains cannot be identified as belonging to a particular tribe. Burial of these is being supported by the Return to the Earth project. The 217th General Assembly (2006) encouraged participation in this program. Details about the project are available on the Religions for Peace, U.S.A., web site. A study guide is available. The General Assembly action is in the Minutes, page 899.
Religions for Peace, U.S.A., begins blog and uses podcasts
Religions for Peace is using technology it learned as a partner in The People Speak 2006 to continue offering blogs and podcasts. Podcasts now available online (with varying audio quality) include parts of speeches and interviews with a variety of interesting persons. If you want to make a blog contribution or to offer a suggestion for a future podcast, send an e-mail .
United Religions Initiative
URI practices are explored in available resources
URI was founded in 2000 after an exploratory period of development. It now claims members from over a hundred religions in 65 countries. Each of its Local Cooperation Circles has at least seven members representing at least three religions. All these operate within a charter built around the purpose of promoting cooperation, ending religiously-motivated violence, and creating a culture of peace, justice, and healing.
A downloadable resource, Partners in Leadership: Best Practices that Exemplify URI Values and Enliven Leadership, not only provides a good look at URI but offers guidance useful in other settings. URI’s Interfaith Peacebuilding Guide is a general resource to purchase and download.
Birth of a Global Community: Appreciative Inquiry in Action by Charles Gibbs and Sally Mahe (Crown, 2003, ISBN #1893435423), tells the story of URI’s birth and of the process that was “the engine of the new organization and its development.” This Appreciative Inquiry Process helped the organization form in a way that is inclusive, decentralized, and self-organizing. The appendices of the book are recommended for others engaged in planning processes.
URI Kids addresses children via internet
URI maintains a children’s web site with information on various religions, stories, activities, and visuals.
Network of Spiritual Progressives
Network of Spiritual Progressives campaigns for Global Marshall Plan
The Network of Spiritual Progressives chose Holocaust Memorial Day 2007 as the time to launch a campaign for its version of a Global Marshall Plan. Rabbi Michael Lerner asks, What does Holocaust remembrance have to do with a call to dedicate 1-5% of our Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty years to a program dedicated to eliminating global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, inadequate health care, and repairing the global environment? He answers by looking at two ways to interpret the slogan, "Never again." One interpretation is that a Jewish state so powerful that it cannot be dominated should be established. The other interpretation is that no one on the planet should face what Jews faced and that, therefore, social change is imperative. See a brochure on the campaign.
North American Interfaith Network
NAIN facilitates networking and cooperative interaction among U.S., Canadian, and Mexican interfaith organizations and religious organizations that engage in interfaith relations. Its programs seek to build communication and mutual understanding. The list of member organizations and their e-mail addresses is posted on the NAIN web site. Individual Friends of NAIN may apply for non-voting status with the organization. A yearly NAINConnect conference offers opportunities for interchanges, new experiences, and inspiration. See a report of the 2007 NAINConnect, a yearly NAIN event that allows networking in person and looks at a particular theme -- religious freedom in 2007.
Interfaith Youth Core
The Interfaith Youth Core works to fill a void
At the end of its fourth annual national Conference on Interfaith Youth Work in May 2006, the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, led by Dr. Eboo Patel, received an e-mail message saying, “Participants left sensing their role in . . . a movement that insists that if you're young and religious, part of what you should be about is coming together with those who are different from you to engage in cooperative service for the common good.” Patel's own passions for interfaith youth work are obvious in his highly recommended book, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. In a society in which race and religion become identifying marks that divide -- that frustrate and anger -- he searches for ways to stand, as an American and a Muslim from an Indian background, within his own community but open to others. Click to see information on the approaches used by IFYC. Read Patel's book and offer it to youth (ISBN #10- 0807077267 and ISBN #13-978-0807077269).
Interfaith Youth Core helps local Interfaith Youth Service Days planning
Days of Interfaith Youth Service is a program for grassroots service and dialogue involving religiously diverse young people every April on college campuses and in local communities. Resources for planning are available at the Interfaith Youth Core web site. Interfaith Youth Core also offers its services in leadership training for the days. Various other organizations help sponsor the days. See some of the kinds of activities that have been fostered in the recent past.
Faith in Public Life
Faith in Public Life works on justice and the common good
Faith in Public Life (FPL) seeks to strengthen collaboration in pursuit of justice and the common good. Its vision is that diverse religious voices can together impact public policy rather than religion being used as a tool for division and exclusion. Its executive director is Jennifer Butler, a PC(USA) minister and a former staff person in the PC(USA) UN office. FPL's Mapping Faith report is now available and highlights two overriding themes: America's faith community is vastly diverse and, secondly, has a broad values agenda. The report notes that while traditional sectors of social justice strength -- blacks, Jews, mainline Protestants, Catholics -- are strongly represented in organizations across the U.S., the evangelical Christian community is increasingly mobilizing around social justice issues. The largest number of organizations are in the "interfaith" category. The midwest and west coast of the U.S. have a larger proportion of organizations than their population would suggest. The largest number nationally deal with peace / human rights and poverty / hunger / homelessness, with evangelical groups also particularly working on discrimination / human rights. The FPL's web site has a wealth of information, including its Mapping Faith interactive database to locate leading faith advocates for justice and the common good, accessible by geography, policy specialization, or faith affiliation.
Faith & Values announces broadcasts in August
The Faith & Values newsletter, Light, alerts viewers to a series of broadcasts, including:
- "The World of Faith & Values: On Common Grounds" on August 26, 7:00 a.m. ET on Hallmark Channel, reports on three
Southern California Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups who lay the foundation for interfaith harmony.
- "God's Warriors" documentary series with Christiane Amanpour reporting on August 21, 22, 23, 9:00 p.m. ET on CNN, looking on successive nights at Jewish, Christian, and Muslim extremists in a study of the intersection of religion and politics in our time.
Faith & Values Media now open to Islamic groups
Faith & Values Media “exists to share God’s word and presence in our lives through television, the internet, and other media.” Its programming is on the Hallmark television channel and at www.faithstreams.com, where it is possible to access a substantial online video library. It has produced an award-winning public service announcement for Religions for Peace, U.S.A. Faith and Values has announced that it is now open to the membership of Islamic groups in addition to Jewish and Christian ones. See a list of the groups that make up Faith & Values, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The sister effort in Canada, VisionTV, has recently announced that it will develop broadcast standards and procedures in light of its having aired lectures out of keeping with its interfaith identity.
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