Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dalai Lama to host 11-day peace festival in U.S. capital

Ecumenical News International News Highlights - 29 June 2011

Dalai Lama to host 11-day peace festival in U.S. capital

Washington, D.C. (ENInews)--The Dalai Lama will visit Washington, D.C. next
month for an 11-day rally that is being billed as "the largest gathering for
world peace in history." The 6-16 July "Kalachakra for World Peace" aims to
"amplify the profound, unshakable commitment of (the Dalai Lama) to values
such as love, compassion, wisdom and interfaith harmony," according to
publicity materials, Religion News Service reports.

[303 words, ENI-11-0340]
ENI Online -

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  • Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion

    June 13, 2011
    An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion

    CHICAGO — For a guy who is only 35 and lives in a walk-up apartment,
    Eboo Patel has already racked up some impressive accomplishments.

    A Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from
    Oxford University, he has four honorary degrees. His autobiography is
    required freshman reading on 11 college campuses. He runs a nonprofit
    organization — the Interfaith Youth Core — with 31 employees and a
    budget of $4 million. And he was tapped by the White House as a key
    architect of an initiative announced in April by President Obama.

    Mr. Patel got there by identifying a sticky problem in American civic
    life and proposing a concrete solution. The problem? Increased
    religious diversity is causing increasing religious conflict. And too
    often, religious extremists are driving events.

    He figured that if Muslim radicals and extremists of other religions
    were recruiting young people, then those who believe in religious
    tolerance should also enlist the youth.

    Interfaith activism could be a cause on college campuses, he argued,
    as much "a norm" as the environmental or women's rights movements, as
    ambitious as Teach for America. The crucial ingredient was to gather
    students of different religions together not just to talk, he said,
    but to work together to feed the hungry, tutor children or build

    "Interfaith cooperation should be more than five people in a book
    club," Mr. Patel said, navigating his compact car to a panel
    discussion at Elmhurst College just west of downtown Chicago, while
    answering questions and dictating e-mails to an aide. "You need a
    critical mass of interfaith leaders who know how to build
    relationships across religious divides, and see it as a lifelong

    Until Mr. Patel came along, the interfaith movement in the United
    States was largely the province of elders and clergy members hosting
    dialogues and, yes, book clubs — and drafting documents that had
    little impact at the grass roots.

    Meanwhile at the grass roots, inter-religious friction was sparking
    regularly over public school holidays, zoning permits for houses of
    worship and religious garb in the workplace. At many universities,
    there is open hostility over the Israeli occupation of Palestinian
    territories and the failure to find a peaceful solution.

    Mr. Patel, who is Muslim, is not saying that his plan will solve all
    those conflicts, just that the focus should be on what he calls "the
    American project." Immigrants across the generations brought their
    faiths, their biases and their beefs and "built a new pattern of
    relationships" over here, he said, pointing out that English
    Protestants and Irish Catholics eventually overcame their enmity on
    these shores.

    "When I go to a campus where the Muslim Student Association and the
    Hillel are not talking to each other," he said (referring to the
    national Jewish student group) this spring in a lecture at Columbia
    University, "my question to them is, 'Who did you feed in Ramallah by
    not talking to Hillel? Who did you keep safe in the south of Israel by
    not talking to the M.S.A.?' "

    There are many interfaith groups, but none like Mr. Patel's, where
    youthful idealism and spiritual searching have been channeled by pro
    bono consultants from McKinsey & Company into strategic plans,
    templates and spreadsheets. The offices take up a whole floor in a
    handsomely renovated industrial building. On one end is a small prayer
    room. On the other is a bulletin board where the manager of foundation
    development tracks grant applications worth millions of dollars.

    At a staff meeting, which started and ended on time, two senior
    leaders in T-shirts emblazoned "Better Together" walked everybody
    through a PowerPoint presentation of the group's recent expansion.

    By the end of the school year in June 2010, the Youth Core had trained
    18 "interfaith fellows" who each recruited about 40 students on their
    campuses. By this June, the Youth Core had trained leaders on 97
    campuses, who engaged an average of 100 students, for a total of
    10,000 participants — more than 10 times over the previous year. The
    leaders are undergraduates, religious and nonreligious, who attended
    summer training sessions led by Youth Core staff members, and then
    returned to their campuses to organize interfaith events and community
    service projects using the upbeat slogan, "Better Together."

    The meeting ended when the vice president for strategy and operations,
    Gabe Hakim, a former McKinsey analyst who wears a "What Would Jesus
    Do" bracelet, recited his signature send-off: "Let's go make it a

    Mr. Patel responded with his signature meeting closer, "Rock on."

    Mr. Patel started the Youth Core in 2002 with a Jewish friend, a
    $35,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and one full-time paid staff
    member, April Mendez, an evangelical Christian who still works with
    the organization as vice president for leadership.

    Mr. Patel's parents were Indian immigrants from the Ismaili Shiite
    sect (led by the imam Aga Khan IV), which is known for its
    philanthropic work. But Mr. Patel spent his days at the University of
    Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and afterward running away from his own
    roots, searching for spiritual identity and purpose.

    He read Dorothy Day and lived in Catholic Worker houses, volunteered
    in a homeless shelter run by evangelical Christians in Atlanta,
    practiced Buddhist meditation and made a pilgrimage to the Dalai Lama
    in India (which is chronicled in his autobiography, "Acts of Faith,"
    published in 2007 by Beacon Press). But when he visited his
    grandmother in Mumbai and saw her taking in battered women, he
    realized that his own tradition offered the ethic of service and
    humanitarianism he had been looking for all along.

    Now, during the work day, Mr. Patel flies from speaking engagements to
    White House meetings to college campuses. Six university presidents
    have signed paying contracts to have the Youth Core assess the state
    of inter-religious relations and awareness on campus and devise
    proposals on how to improve them.

    The Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, president of Loyola University, a
    Jesuit university in Chicago, said of Mr. Patel's group: "They don't
    have the knowledge base or experience in theology, but they have
    provided the data on where our kids are. The world we grew up in was
    all Irish, Italian and German. Now it's Vietnamese, and Poles and
    Jewish kids from Skokie. We are not automatically able to reflect on
    their reality."

    The White House initiative is the biggest breakthrough yet. Mr. Obama
    sent a letter last month to 2,000 university presidents inviting them
    to sign up their campuses for the "Interfaith and Community Service
    Challenge" in the coming school year. So far, about 400 have signed

    Joshua DuBois, executive director of the White House Office of
    Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said Mr. Patel, who served
    on the president's religion advisory council, and the Youth Core staff
    were "critical early partners" in developing the new initiative.

    "You have people who can cast a vision but then not implement the
    vision," Mr. DuBois said in an interview. "Then you have people who
    are great implementers but are not very inspirational. Eboo is a
    unique leader who can do both."

    At night, when Mr. Patel comes home to his apartment, his year-old
    son, Khalil, is waiting at the glass door.

    Mr. Patel tries to live the philosophy that exposure to other
    religions enhances one's own. He and his wife, Shehnaz Mansuri, a
    civil rights lawyer and a Sunni Muslim, have hired a South American
    nanny who sometimes recites the Lord's Prayer to their two sons. They
    send their 4-year-old, Zayd, to a Roman Catholic preschool.

    "When Zayd talks about saints," Mr. Patel said, "I can tell him about imams."

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  • Monday, June 06, 2011

    New USIP publication on Women in Religious Peacebuilding

    From: Barbara Hartford

    Dear friends,

    Greetings of love and peace.

    I've just received notice of a new USIP Publication that looks
    interesting.  It's entitled "Women in Religious Peacebuilding" by
    Katherine Marshall and Susan Hayward. You can read about it here at

    You may download it for free or you can request one from Renata
    Stuebner at



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  • Friday, June 03, 2011

    For the Peace of the City, International Day of Prayerfor Peace 2011


    (June 3, 2011) New Windsor, Maryland -- On Earth Peace is kicking off its
    fifth annual campaign organizing community groups and church congregations
    to participate in the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP),
    September 21. The scripture theme for the 2011 campaign is "Seek the peace
    of the city--for in its peace, you will find peace" (Jeremiah 29).

    In 2011, On Earth Peace is seeking 200 faith and community groups around the
    world to plan public events on or near September 21. While anyone is invited
    to sign up, On Earth Peace is especially seeking youth and young adults to
    organize gatherings, events, services, or vigils as part of IDPP.

    Registration means committing to organize a public prayer event focused on
    violence, during the week of September 21, 2011. An introductory video,
    organizing resources, and online registration for the International Day of
    Prayer for Peace are available online at

    "While nations around the world stagger under economic devastation, endless
    war, and corrupt politics, and while rural and urban communities alike fail
    to thrive, the International Day of Prayer for Peace can be a doorway into
    eliminating violence and bringing reconciliation in your community and our
    world," said On Earth Peace Program Director Matt Guynn.

    "On Earth Peace partner groups from previous IDPP events have gone on to
    develop community leadership initiatives around issues of race, poverty,
    militarism, corruption, and religious violence. September 21 is only one
    day, but as you bring together new partners and community groups to pray, it
    can awaken imagination and open a gateway to God's vision of abundant life,
    revived hope, and deep peace."

    An initiative of the World Council of Churches, the International Day of
    Prayer for Peace is connected with the United Nations' International Day of
    Peace, a time when the guns, armies and militias are called to go silent and
    24-hour ceasefires are encouraged around the world. It is an opportunity for
    people and grassroots groups to join in celebration, prayer, and sharing
    together about their hopes for a more peaceful world.

    Committed to stopping violence and building reconciliation, On Earth Peace
    is an agency rooted in the Church of the Brethren. On Earth Peace extends
    this 300-year faith legacy by equipping new generations of Christian
    peacemakers and partnering with grassroots groups to build peace with

    The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination committed to
    continuing the work of Jesus peacefully and simply, and to living out its
    faith in community. The denomination is based in the Anabaptist and Pietist
    faith traditions and is one of the three Historic Peace Churches. It
    celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2008. It counts some 123,000 members
    across the United States and Puerto Rico, and has missions and sister
    churches in Nigeria, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and India.


    For more information contact:

    Samuel Sarpiya
    On Earth Peace

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