OPPORTUNITIES & RESOURCES
Plans Firm Up for NAINConnect 2014 in Detroit
NAIN 2014: Registration Open, Young Adult Scholarships Available, Workshop Proposals Sought
Bridging Borders and Boundaries is the theme for this year’s North America Interfaith Network (NAIN) annual conference, scheduled in Detroit, August 10-13. Visit the NAINConnect 2014 website for the details.
Early-bird registration is $275, student registration is $135. Register online here.
NAIN offers a unique opportunity to include younger participants (ages 16-35) in a valuable interfaith encounter during the 2014 NAINConnect. Scholarships ($500) recognize young adults across the continent who are actively engaged in important interfaith work at the high school, college, graduate, or professional level. Go here for the details and application instructions. The application deadline is April 15.
The NAINConnect planning committee is actively soliciting workshop proposals. “We invite proposals on 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?” Go here for the guidelines. Proposals are due by March 5.
NAIN is North America’s oldest and most active network of grassroots interfaith leaders. See TIO’s 2011 profile here.
Inclusive Theology, Spirituality, and Consciousness
Third BIG I Conference to Convene in Arizona March 7-9
The Third Annual BIG I Conference (interfaith, interspiritual, integral, and independent) on Inclusive Theology, Spirituality, and Consciousness will be held March 7-9, 2014. Interfaith clergy and laity will gather at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, for the three-day event. It is designed to allow those who live, work, and minister in interfaith settings to come together to discuss the best ideas for providing the most inclusive space and atmosphere for individuals and groups to commune and spiritually grow.
The presentations on Friday afternoon and Saturday are run in a TED-format of 18 minutes to deliver a message and 12 minutes for audience questions and interaction. This year, Sunday morning will be for special workshops with the only concurrent sessions of the event.
The topics for this year’s event include:
redefining the role of chaplain from a soul-care provider to an integrative provider of Western and Eastern spiritual paradigms including yoga and energy therapies,
creating credible eco-ministry and eco-chaplaincy to serve the environment,
discussions about the role of money in ministry – “dharma and money don’t mix” versus “spiritual-entrepreneurship,”
creating a new “integral chaplaincy,”
historical figures in interfaith ministry including a celebration of the 100th birthday year of Swami Satchidananda, and
sacred activism and spirituality.
There will also be several new opportunities to showcase interfaith ministries, including:
the first interfaith-interspiritual art show featuring works from around the world,
an interfaith poetry reading,
presentation of the Huston Smith Award for Interfaith Education Lifetime Achievement, and
a Friday-morning field trip to Sedona, Arizona, a significant spiritual destination.
Sunday will be the first national meet-up for the “Spiritually Independent.”
This year’s hosts include Rabbi Rami Shapiro, a contemplative, a former synagogue leader, college professor of world religions, and an award-winning author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ministering to the Spiritually Independent. He received initiation in the Ramakrishna Order of Vedanta Hinduism under Swami Swahananda.
Joining him this year is Mirabai Starr, who is another award-winning author, mystic, a former college professor of world religions, and an initiate into four different mystic traditions. Rev. Tim Miner OUnI will also co-host again. He is a co-founder of the Order of Universal Interfaith (OUnI) and the executive director of the Council of Interfaith Communities of the United States. Finally, another new face to the organization is Rev. Claire Goodman OUnI. She has a successful ceremonies ministry in Charlottesville, VA, the East coast’s number two wedding destination.
For more information on this conference or to contact the organizers, visit the conference website. Planners are still accepting artwork and poetry readings.
High School Students Reach Out to the World
Call for Submissions to The Compassion Project: An Anthology
The Compassion Project, created by high-school students, is dedicated to bringing awareness to the simple yet often marginalized concept of compassion. In our society, compassion is interpreted as pity and designated to the religious. What if we could bring compassion into the secular mainstream? Will we begin to heal the sufferings endemic to our society?
We are soliciting images of original artwork depicting compassion, be they photographs, or photos of paintings, collages, mixed media, drawings, or sculptures. Poetry, short personal essays and short stories are also welcome. Selections from this collection of work will be displayed in the blog www.meditationblog.blogspot.com and used in readings and presentations to stir the consciousness of others. Should a critical mass of work be achieved, selections will be compiled and an anthology will be printed.
Guidelines for Submissions – All entries should include:
A word document containing an imbedded image (jpg with maximum size of 2000 x 2000 pixels and minimum of 500 x 500 pixels) of the artwork along with a statement (one to three paragraphs) on why the image included represents compassion; or a poem, short essay, or short story on compassion.
Name, address and email included in the heading.
Poetry must be 30 lines or less, single-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font.
Prose must be 1500 words or less, double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font.
If an image is accepted for the anthology, the artist must be able to send it with high resolution.
Artists and writers of all ages and abilities are welcome.
Rapping for Goodness Sake
Dru Takes on Bullying with the Golden Rule
Scarboro Missions’ interfaith ministry keeps creating wonderful new resources for promoting and teaching the Golden Rule. A treasure trove of 13 videos, for instance, gives teachers and parents excellent starting points for discussing how we treat others.
Getting the most attention now is the Golden Rule Rap performed by leading Canadian rap artist Dru. He challenges young people to “follow the Golden Rule and you’ll be cool.” Producer of the video, Tina Petrova, reports the “Mental Health Services in one of the Arctic territories reached out to us, sharing that teen suicides were high due to bullying, and that the rap may be a great mental health tool to use at school dances. Now other young groups are telling us the same!”
Click on the video and listen! And share!
Free Downloadable Peacemaking Curriculum
For One Great Peace – an Interfaith Curriculum for Abrahamic Peacemaking
This excellent resource enables participants to acquire basic skills in interfaith dialogue and to build bridges across religious and cultural differences. The 74-page curriculum is published by the Abrahamic Faiths Peace Initiative (California, USA) and authored by learned practitioners of three religious traditions. Three of the sessions focus on peacemaking in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Also included are guidelines for interfaith leaders, reflective exercises, background information sources, suggestions for further readings and excellent tips for practising interfaith hospitality. The curriculum is also an important resource for those who are not members of the Abrahamic faiths. This document is also available as a Kindle e-book (96 cents).
To view or download free of charge, click here.
“Faiths Coming Together Through Awareness, Compassion, and Justice”
Edmonton, Canada, to Host Parliament Event, May 1-4, 2014
“Faiths Coming Together” is a four-day conference scheduled by Parliament of the World’s Religions Partner City, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for May 1-4. It will provide an opportunity for local interfaith groups from western Canada and the western United States to come together to share experiences of what it means to be an open and accepting community of people who encourage and support the work of faith in the world.
The program will include two keynote presentations, a series of workshops, panels and film presentations, as well as opportunities to share personal experiences in the world of interfaith dialogue and programming. It begins Thursday evening, May 1, at 7:00 p.m. and concludes Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, an optional interfaith service will take place followed by lunch and a display celebrating our different faiths.
Rob Hankinson, current chair of the North American Interfaith Network, will be directing the project on behalf of Edmonton’s Interfaith Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions and the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action. You can reach Rob here. For a “Faith Coming Together” brochure, go here.
What Has Interfaith Engagement Meant to You?
Vanderbilt Surveying North American Grassroots Interfaith Activists
If you participate in an interfaith group in North America, your input is sought in a survey. A study group at Vanderbilt University is researching grassroots interfaith organizations and would love to have your input. (There are plans to expand the study in its next phase to go beyond North America.)
Mark McCormick, a Ph.D. candidate who helped inspire the project, writes, “This research project started as the seed of an idea back in 2010, during the protests against the new Islamic Center in our own backyard in Murfreesboro, TN. Several of us at Vanderbilt have over time become personally involved in the interfaith efforts that have cropped up in MiddleTennessee in response to this controversy, and it struck us that this would also be a very important (and understudied, empirically) topic for research.”
Five interfaith groups in the south have been the subject of case studies, and to this will be added what the research team finds out from this survey. TIO will report on the results next year.
Click here to go to the survey. Vanderbilt scholars thank you!
Interreligious Ecology Resource
Multifaith Green Rule Poster & Study Guide Now Available
Greening Sacred Spaces is a Canadian interfaith organization that supports houses of worship of various religions in efforts to “green” their buildings. Their Green Rule Poster features sacred texts from 14 religious traditions – they are presented against the visual backdrop of “the tree of life.”
This poster is complemented by a useful 20-page study guide. The guide is an imaginative, practical tool to teach youth and adult members of your faith community and school system about the sacredness of creation in your own faith tradition while reflecting on the ecological texts of other religions.
You can order your poster here.
Free to Download
On Common Ground: World Religions in America
Diana Eck, founder of the Pluralism Project, wrote this letter last month:
Greetings from the Pluralism Project! I am delighted to share with you the launch of an online and updated version of On Common Ground: World Religions in America. You can view the press release on our website.
For fifteen years, the CD-ROM version of On Common Ground (Columbia University Press) has been a go-to resource on religious diversity in America for teachers, professors, students, clergy, community leaders, and media professionals. Over the years, many of you have expressed your hope for an online version of this wonderful resource. We’ve echoed your excitement and are pleased that this new version of On Common Ground is now online and available free of charge.
In the new online version, the time-tested educational structure of the On Common Ground CD-ROM is replicated and enhanced. We have:
- added new sections on Humanism and Unitarian Universalism to America’s Many Religions and developed new content on the experiences of Muslims and Sikhs post-9/11;
- expanded America’s Changing Religious Landscape by including interactive maps of religious diversity in select cities across the U.S. which incorporate both census data and information from the Pluralism Project Directory of Religious Centers (a database that now includes well over 10,000 entries);
- explored new versions of old challenges by integrating new materials and weblinks into Encountering Religious Diversity, further building on a rich cache of historical examples, documents, news stories, and videos that highlight the many ways in which Americans experience our new multireligious reality.
The Pluralism Project is grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. which was a major funder of the original On Common Ground CD-ROM as well as the new version On Common Ground Online. This project would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of generations of Pluralism Project affiliates, researchers, staff, students, and the communities we both study and seek to serve. Thank you.
We look forward to hearing your responses to OCG!
With all best wishes,
Progressive Theologian Reaches Out to New Pope
Letters to Pope Francis by Matthew Fox
Pope Francis, with a warm heart and iconoclastic attitudes, has caught the attention of the world. Each day new stories emerge, and everyone (talking) seems to approve. A biography is out, along with plenty of pundit opinions.
Now comes a set of heartfelt letters to Fr. Fox’s “brother in Christ about the great challenges facing the church today, drawing from the deep spiritual and theological sources that have been suppressed since Vatican.” The book urges Francis “to restore the sense of the faithful and reshape a church with justice and compassion.”
Matthew Fox has long been persona non grata at the Vatican. Could that change? This book makes you think it could. It is available at Amazon.
New Curricula for Jewish-Christian Congregations
Walking God's Paths: Christians and Jews in Candid Conversation
This new set of videotapes and a study guide allow participants to experience each tradition’s understanding of how it walks God’s path and how the two faith communities can relate to one another in positive ways.
Written by Philip Cunningham, John Michalczyt, and Gibert Rosenthal. Produced by the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College on behalf and with the oversight of the National Council of Synagogues and the Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is now made available online through special arrangement with the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations. See here for details.
United Religions Initiative Invites Your Stories and Video
URI “Talking Back to Hate” Campaign Launched
In August United Religions Initiative (URI) launched its “Talking Back to Hate” campaign. Those who visit its website are invited to sign a pledge, make a commitment to work against hate, and to add your stories and videos to those which are already posted on the site. The video on the right is a contribution by high-school student Ayluonne Pereszkiewicz.
The purpose of the campaign is clear: As people of many cultures, faiths and backgrounds, we’re committing today to take specific steps to address hate and discrimination in our communities, and to work for a world< where every person, regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion, culture, gender, orientation or ability, is treated with respect and is safe to be themselves. We call upon our political and community leaders to make new efforts to secure and defend these fundamental human rights for all people, and to speak out together against acts of hate, discrimination and bullying.
Those who take the pledge can download a variety of resources including a “Talking Back to Hate” toolkit that can help you and your community participate and keep up with the campaign.
Start Your Own Faith Journey Campaign
ravelUnravel Goes National
Project Interfaith’s ravelUnravel program in Omaha, Nebraska, has more than 900 short faith statements from people representing the full diversity of religious traditions. It is going national now, and you are being invited to participate by starting your own video campaign, adding faith statements from you and your community. Just go the website and follow the directions.
Magnificent Interactive Exhibit Now Online
Compelling New Exhibit: Portraits in Faith – Photographs and Stories
For almost nine years, Daniel Epstein, a Marketing Director at Procter & Gamble, has been travelling the world for business and for faith. Motivated by his own search to fill the “God-sized hole” in his life, he felt that if he did not develop some type of spiritual faith he would die. Born and raised a Jew, Daniel’s challenges with relationships, work and “life” forced him at age 36 to get on his knees and pray to a God he did not know, a higher power not specific to either his own Judaism or any religion, and ask for help. In order to keep his new found sense of [Shekh Abdul Aziz Bukhari in Portraits of Faith] faith alive and to gain from the experience of others, Daniel created a spiritual exercise out of interviewing people around the world about the role of faith in their lives. As a photographer, Daniel also captured a moment with each person in a black and white portrait meant to evoke their true spirit.
What emerged is “Portraits in Faith,” the world’s most extensive oral history/testimony project conducted by one person on the subject of faith. Daniel has interviewed and made portraits of 400 people from 27 countries representing well over 50 religions, denominations and spiritual followings.
Read the rest of this story, by Frank Fredericks, in Huffington Post, where a number of the photos help tell the story. Or go straight to Portraits In Faith and listen to the stories of those in the photographs.
History of the Golden Rule Free to Download
Excerpted from Ethics and the Golden Rule by Harry Gensler S.J.
This history chronicles the history of the Golden Rule from ancient to modern times. Essentially, the paper charts the ethical history of humanity through the lens of the Golden Rule. This chronology is an ideal teaching tool with the capacity to reach a multitude of diverse audiences. It also has interfaith content.
Download your free copy here.
Fifty Years of Interfaith Activism
Download Braybrooke’s Personal Account of the Interfaith Movement
Widening Vision: the World Congress of Faiths and the Growing Interfaith Movement by Marcus Braybrooke is now available for downloading. Marcus, a TIO Correspondent, is known as the historian of the interfaith movement. In this new book, he is as much a participant as an observer. He joined the World Congress of Faiths in 1964 and serves as its president today.
From this vantage point, he has been engaged for nearly 50 years in the burgeoning interfaith movement. In Widening Vision he shares his first-hand account of working with the Temple of Understanding, Religions for Peace, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the North American Interfaith Network, and United Religions Initiative. The book concludes with his vision of a peaceful interfaith future.
Widening Vision is available as an e-book from Kindle at Amazon.
Multifaith Golden Rule Movie Now Available Free Online
Animating the Golden Rule
Toronto’s Scarboro Missions movie, Animating the Golden Rule, is now available free of charge on the Internet. The DVD features students in three Toronto high schools embodying golden rule values by way of skits, artwork, interviews, music, dance & rap. The film eloquently demonstrates how character education can be engendered in young people using play, creativity and the arts. This movie is very useful for teachers and youth leaders because of its themes of youth, global citizenship, multiculturalism, ethics, diversity and the arts.
To view the film, in four sections, click here.