Temple of Understanding, Parliament of the World’s Religions,
Interfaith Center of New York, World Peace Prayer Society, International Yoga Day Committee at the UN,
United Religions Initiative, and United Methodist Women invite you to attend
The Third Annual Interfaith Service of Gratitude and Remembrance
Thursday, March 16, 2017, 4:45 – 6:00 PM
Church Center for the United Nations, Chapel
44th Street and First Avenue, New York
Join us in prayerful remembrance of those who have gone before us and who continue to inspire our lives. We carry their courage and commitment forward.
There will be a time to remember those who have passed during this year.
Special music will be provided by The Performance & Peace Initiative with Brandon Perdomo on flute and Caitlin Cawley on Percussion.
- Rev. Dionne Boissiere, Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations
- Grove Harris, MDiv., The Temple of Understanding
- Dr. Kusumita Pedersen, Interfaith Center of New York
- Denise Scotto, Esq., International Yoga Day Committee
- Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative
“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision – then it becomes
less and less important whether I am afraid.“ – Audre Lorde
We at the Temple of Understanding are inspired by Repairers of the Breach, who are nonpartisan and in the inclusive interfaith tradition of people of faith and no faith advancing a moral agenda:
“Repairers of the Breach, Inc. is a nonpartisan and ecumenical organization that seeks to build a progressive agenda rooted in a moral framework to counter the ultra-conservative constructs that try to dominate the public square. Repairers will help frame public policies which are not constrained or confined by the narrow tenets of neo-conservatism. Repairers will bring together clergy and lay people from different faith traditions, with people without a spiritual practice but who share the moral principles at the heart of the great moral teachings. Repairers will expand a “school of prophets” who can broadly spread the vision of a nation that is just and loving.” [www.breachrepairers.org]
“A truly moral agenda must be anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative and deeply rooted and built within a fusion coalition. It would ask of all policy, is the policy Constitutionally consistent, morally defensible and economically sane. We call this moral analysis and moral articulation which leads to moral activism.” —Rev. Dr. William, J. Barber, II
Videos of the sessions of the New Poor People’s Campaign Teach-In are available online.
Part One | Why a Poor People’s Campaign?
Part Two | Voting Rights
Part Three | Race and Poverty Audit
Part Four | Poverty, Economic Inequality and Race
Part Five | Health Care
Part Six | Militarism and the Cost of War
Part Seven | Ecological Devastation and Climate Change
Gender justice is not lifted up as a separate part; we note that 8 of the 14 speakers are women.
The first few minutes of Rev. Barber preaching in this video are particularly inspiring and lead into a longer sermon.
Revival and Resiliency After Rejection | Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
We pleased to share a report from our colleagues at Temple of Understanding—India detailing their programs for 2015-2016. Highlights of TOU—India’s activities include:
- Participation in the Parliament of the World’s Religions themed “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity” in October 2015
- International Interfaith Dialogue on 9th January 2016 themed “The Influence of Religion on the Place of Women in Society,” jointly organized by Der Missionszentrale der Franziskaner, Bonn, Germany; the Center for Peace and Spirituality International; Temple of Understanding—India; and Bahá’í Community of India
- Interfaith Dialogue for World Peace jointly organized by Temple of Understanding India and Focolare Movement on 20th January 2016 in honour of the visit of Madam Emmaus, President and Mr. Jesus Moran, Co-President of Focolare Movement
- Round table Conference themed “Religion & Sustainable Development—Fostering Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies” on 23rd November 2016 in collaboration with Woolf Institute, Cambridge and Georgetown University, Qatar. Some 27 outstanding scholars, including members of the Advisory Council of Temple of Understanding India Foundation, were invited by TOU—India founder/President Hon’ble Dr. Karan Singh for deliberations surrounding the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the contributions of religious communities towards their fulfillment.
For a full description of TOU—India’s 2015-2016 interfaith harmony and dialogue programs, please read the full report.
Paul Eppinger, who led a campaign for Arizona to recognize a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and later was involved in interfaith affairs, has died. He was 83.
The contentious battle in the late 1980s to pass a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in Arizona took six years, with one governor declaring a holiday and the next revoking it, and voters initially voting down a holiday but later, in 1992, supporting it.
Eppinger was the statewide director for the successful “Victory Together Campaign” to establish a state King holiday.
”I think this is precisely what Christians should be interested in to give proper leadership to a critical moral and ethical issue,” he said at the time. ”We look at the saints of all times and lift them up as heroes, but when it comes to us taking a stand in our local community, Christian churches are afraid of what people will think.
”Personally, I’ve never felt the spirit of Jesus more than when I am helping people who have been cast aside or who are down and out.”
Read more about interfaith leader Paul Eppinger >>
Muslim Americans are showing solidarity and raising funds for the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. Click the image below to view the video and share on Facebook.
The Temple of Understanding mourns the violent deaths of Iman Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin in Queens, New York. In solidarity with these organizations devoted to interfaith education, we would like to share the statements offered by Cordoba House and Tanenbaum.
From Cordoba House:
Cordoba’s statement on Sad News of Shooting of Imam Akonjee and Thara Uddin
“Remain patient in adversity just as all of the apostles, endowed with firmness of heart, bore themselves with patience.”
(Quran: 46 – 35)
We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic shooting of our brother, Imam Maulama Akonjee, and his assistant, Thara Uddin, as they were leaving Al-Furqan Jame Masjid in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, where Imam Akonjee was the mosque leader.
Imam Akonjee, originally from Bangladesh, was 55 years old, and moved to Queens only two years ago. He leaves behind his wife and three children. It has been reported that he was a devout Muslim, and a highly respected and humble man. We understand that he had done some important work to help cultivate peace in his diverse and multi-faith neighborhood.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and community of Imam Akonjee and his assistant, Thara Uddin, who was 64 years old.
The NYPD has reported that the investigation into the motive for the shooting is still ongoing. It is important for Muslims to exercise patience and endurance, and not make any assumptions on the cause of this murder.
The Quran reminds believers of how to react in times of an attack. “…If you are patient during times of trial and conscious of Him, and an attack (or an enemy) should fall upon you all of a sudden, your sustainer will aid you (for your patience and endurance) with the aid of five thousand angels.” (Quran 3:124)
As an American Imam in a pluralistic and great nation, I call upon people of all faiths to work together to spread peace, tolerance, and understanding within our communities.
Please join me in praying for Imam Akonjee, Thara Uddin, and their families.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Founder, Cordoba House
Religious leader Imam Maulama Akonjee and his associate, Thara Uddin, prayed together at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Queens before walking outside into the sunlight. Minutes later, they were executed, leaving a community, and a nation, in fear, anger and mourning.
We can’t begin to imagine how a person becomes a cold-blooded killer, possessed by such hatred that they are brazen enough to execute people on a summer afternoon. We may never understand the real motive, but we know the heart-wrenching impact that the deaths of these two men is having on our community.
Not only were they abruptly taken from their families, neighbors and the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque, but the horrific crime is fueling anxiety in Queens and across the nation. Everywhere you look, people are on edge because of rhetoric in the media, hate crimes and acts of terrorism (perpetrated by individuals of varied religions and beliefs). The result is mistrust and division.
This is where we all need to step in, to stand together and not allow fear to break our neighborhoods apart. As a unified group of individuals from different religious and belief traditions, cultures and ethnicities, our call for justice is louder than the fear. It’s time to stand tall and be loud!
Joyce S. Dubensky
Mark E. Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum
Gathering honest and critical thinking by women and men of faith and human rights actors, the new Women, Faith, and Human Rights report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Church of Sweden has the following goals:
- To contribute to a broader and deeper understanding of the relation between faith and human rights, particularly around issues of SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights] and population dynamics.
- To challenge the notion that there per definition is a conflict between faith and human rights in general and women’s rights in particular.
- To make the positions of faith-based women in leadership visible and to convey their experiences and views to UN missions and UN agencies.
- To inspire women in leadership to build networks that add an important voice to the global women’s movement engaged in active UN advocacy around gender equality and women and girls’ rights.
Orlando: Love as an Act of Defiance
Multifaith leaders from across the country come together to mourn, pray, and organize after the mass shooting in Orlando. Hosted by Rev. Paul B. Raushenbush, Senior VP of Public Engagement at Auburn Seminary. #LoveAsDefiance #LoveisLove #PropheticGrief
The Religious Institute, working with partner organizations, has drafted a statement for people of faith to show their support and solidarity with the LGBTQ, Latinx, and Muslim communities as well as those living with mental illness. You’re invited to sign this statement to express your solidarity and support.
The Huffington Post:
Muslims in NYC Remember the Lives Lost in Orlando
United Religions Initiative:
“Why Mourning Orlando in Diverse Communities is Powerful and Necessary“, with links to many communities’ interfaith gatherings.
I’m Done Accommodating Religious Hatred Toward Queer Lives – By Paul Raushenbush, Senior VP of Public Engagement at Auburn Seminary
For too long I have tolerated “Setting a big tent” and “Allowing many points of view” and “Dialogue” when talking about LGBT people as if our lives are up for debate and as if the jury is still out on our humanity, our dignity, or our being made beautifully in God’s image…. All I hear in these conversations now is death.
KAICIID Board of Directors Statement:
“In this deeply painful moment, we extend our prayers and condolences to the families of the victims and those injured in the Orlando attack. This deliberate and merciless massacre is a hate crime that we denounce. We reject violence, in particular when it is perpetrated in the name of religion.
We pledge in the face of this hatred and violence to support those who build bridges of understanding that bring together all communities in respect and understanding and pray they never cease their good works in this supremely important task.”
KAICIID is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to promote dialogue among different religious and cultural groups to promote justice, peace and reconciliation and to counteract the abuse of religion to justify violence. The Centre is governed by a multi-religious KAICIID Board of Directors, consisting of representatives of five religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
Via Democracy Now!:
IMAM DAAYIEE ABDULLAH: …one of the issues I think is very important, in many communities of color, there’s a stigma about mental health. And in my pastoral counseling that I provide to not only LGBTMuslims, but also young Muslims, interfaith couples, older Muslims who are now in a different culture, we find that the shaming that comes from acknowledging that one may have some issues that may relate to mental health, often people are not willing to go and seek additional help because of that shaming or that cultural stigma that’s associated with it. And I think that we need to make this change in how people approach mental health, so that people can be helped much earlier in the process if they should exhibit certain issues or certain ways of—in which we show there’s some mental illness issues.
The Temple of Understanding stands with Parliament of the World’s Religions in grief and anger:
To the friends, families, and neighbors of the victims in Orlando: We, the global community of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, are with you.
We are – without qualification – with you. We grieve with you. We feel anger with you. We love you. Our prayers are with you.
To ourselves: We must reclaim a global ethic.
At the closing of the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions, a foundational declaration was released entitled Declaration Toward a Global Ethic, a document that serves as a moral compass guiding the Parliament’s work. It resolutely prohibits hate, discrimination, and murder on any basis as “irrevocable.”
In the great ancient religious and ethical traditions of humankind we find the directive: You shall not kill! Or in positive terms: Have respect for life! Let us reflect anew on the consequences of this ancient directive: All people have a right to life, safety, and the free development of personality insofar as they do not injure the rights of others. No one has the right physically to torture, injure, much less kill, any other human being. And no people, no state, no race, no religion has the right to hate, to discriminate against, to “cleanse,” to exile, much less to liquidate a “foreign” minority which is different in behavior or holds different beliefs.
– Declaration Toward A Global Ethic: Irrevocable Directives
BRISTOL, UK — The images of religious leaders in diverse garb, marching behind colorful banners with symbols of the world’s major faiths, conveyed a sense of the sacred nature of a meeting held in this historic English seaport in September 2015.
But at the head of the procession was an ensign with the logo of the United Nations — an institution generally concerned with more worldly affairs.
The juxtaposition, however, conveys well the theme of the meeting and its agenda, which was to develop a series of action plans by faith communities in support of Agenda 2030, the new global development plan adopted by the UN later in the month.
The faith community action plans, which include things like pledges to develop microcredit programs for the poor, increase access to education, plant trees, invest in clean energy, and establish green pilgrimages, were welcomed by officials from the United Nations, who were present at the meeting.
Click to read more on faith communities and sustainable development from One Country >>