Interfaith Service of Gratitude and Remembrance #CSW62

Temple of Understanding, Parliament of the World’s Religions,
NGO Committee on the Status of Women, World Peace Prayer Society,
International Federation of Women in Legal Careers,
United Religions Initiative, and United Methodist Women invite you to attend

The Fourth Annual Interfaith Service of Gratitude and Remembrance

Friday, March 16, 2018, 6:00 PM
Church Center for the United Nations, Chapel
777 United Nations Plaza, New York

Women of Faith Speaking to Structural Change: Empowering Rural Women #CSW62

The Temple of Understanding presents
A 62nd Commission on the Status of Women Parallel Event

Monday, March 12, 2018, 8:30 – 10:00 AM
Armenian Convention Center
630 Second Avenue, Guild Hall, New York City

Women of Faith Speaking to Structural Change:
Empowering Rural Women

This panel will address systemic problems and solutions that impact rural women and their urban counterparts. Access to education, to decent food, to land and other resources, including safety and respect, profoundly impact women’s enjoyment of human rights. The roots of sex trafficking, of violence against women, and the threats to (and murder of) women frontline human and environmental rights defenders are “cross-cutting” concerns; the panel will focus on solutions and solidarity.

Panelists reflect from their diverse faith perspectives on root causes and systemic change and on how their faith sustains their social justice work.

Speakers include:

  • Donna Bollinger – Executive Director, RFP-USA
  • Dr. Veena Adige – Advocate for Education for Rural Girls, India
  • Dr. Angela Reed, RSM – Coordinator, Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN
  • Grove Harris, MDiv – Moderator and respondent, Temple of Understanding

Co- Sponsors

  • Temple of Understanding
  • United Religions Initiative
  • Mining Working Group
  • Religions for Peace USA

Biographical Information

Dr. Veena Adige is a journalist who worked as Assistant Editor of an English newspaper and later as Associate Editor of a fortnightly English magazine. She currently freelances for several magazines and newspapers. She is the author of four books and six ebooks.

She holds two Bachelor’s degrees in Science and Mass Communications, two post graduate degrees in Public Administration and Linguistics and a Doctorate in Philosophy.

Deeply interested in women and children, she works with an English medium unaided school in a rural area near Mumbai, India, which caters to children of seven villages around. The school has 430 children, forty percent are girls. She is on the committee of the school and organizes social and extracurricular activities for the children, and participates in the meetings where decisions regarding the school are made. She organizes free medical (dental and eye camps) programs for the children, has initiated an activity whereby the children of the school interact with the senior citizens of an Old Age Home nearby. Also she visits the rural areas often to meet the people whose children are in the school to find out the difficulties, the problems and the challenges they and their children face. Through the school efforts go on to develop women, especially the rural girls. The school lays stress on giving the girl child opportunities for growth and development, making her equal to her urban counterparts.

The school was started as just a preprimary school when children had to be literally coaxed into coming to school, and it is now a full-fledged school, the first batch of SSC students (Tenth standard) appearing for their Board Exams in March 2018. She was in the committee when the school was in the preprimary stage and was conducted in the ground floor rooms of a hospital. Now the school building is a three storied one with more than four hundred students. Dr. Adige brought out two school magazines called EXPRESSIONS in 2016 and 2017 (as Editor), which give the activities of the school in detail.
Dr. Adige was responsible for starting a Children’s club in Nagpur, the only one in the world to have more than 25,000 children as members which is mentioned in the Limca Book of Records.

She has written several articles on women and children and participated in discussions, programs relating to them and was on the panel of child adoption when she was in Nagpur. She researched extensively on social worker Baba Amte who gave home to leprosy affected people and physically challenged ones when leprosy was a dreaded disease and has won several awards like the Magsaysay, Templeton, besides Gandhi Peace Prize, Padmabhushan, Padmavibhushan etc. And wrote a book on him for which the Ph.D degree was awarded in 2017 by the Zoroastrian University.

Dr. Adige’s husband, formerly a top executive, is also now in the field of social work and the school management. Her children are well settled. Her daughter lives in the USA and son lives in Mumbai, each with their families.


Donna Bollinger, Executive Director of Religions for Peace USA, has more than two decades of nonprofit leadership and development including faith based work in 36 countries. Born in rural western North Carolina, Donna has lived on the East Coast from Miami to Boston, as well as in Mexico, Morocco, and Switzerland. Working and living with those of diverse faith and cultures created a passion for religious liberty that welcomes those from all faiths and traditions to engage in dialogue and grow in mutual respect, understanding, and common vision. From grassroots community organizing to participating in White House consultations, Donna is comfortable in and understands the need for action and involvement from the local to the national level. Her demonstrated commitment to interfaith understanding and cooperation combined with a Master of Divinity and experience in financial management and grant acquisition has prepared her to fulfill the mission and needs of Religions for Peace USA.

Early in her career Donna served as a staff member for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and then the Ecumenical Gathering of Youth and Young Adults based in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the World Council of Churches. Here in the United States, Donna has worked extensively with Haitian, Hispanic, and Hmong communities. She has used her background in education and community development to address the challenges of public health, economic development, and interfaith cooperation.

Born and raised in the rural south, Donna served as a delegated to the White House Consultation on RAW – Rural American Women. With a commitment to the issues and needs of Rural Women both in the USA and abroad, Donna created and built Native Grace, a fair trade resource and retail center promoting just wages, the rights of women and children, and economic development.

Donna is a graduate and merit scholar of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees with honors in education from East Carolina University.


Grove Harris, MDiv is an eco-justice and religious diversity educator and advocate who brings diverse grassroots perspectives to an international agenda. She currently serves as Representative to the United Nations for the Temple of Understanding, where she has developed justice initiatives related to food sovereignty, human right to water, interfaith education, and women’s initiatives in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Grove was Consulting Producer for the short film Roots of Change: Women, Food Sovereignty, and Eco-Justice (2016), in which she is featured along with other speakers on women’s initiatives and food justice. Her past positions include Program Director for the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions and Managing Director for the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School (1996) incorporated studies of organizational development and business management into the study of religion and ethics.


Dr. Angela Reed, RSM is the current Coordinator at the Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN Office. Dr. Reed is a graduate of RMIT University’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, in Melbourne, Australia where she completed her PhD on Human Trafficking. While living in the Philippines, her research focused on giving voice to Filipino women who had been trafficked for sexual exploitation. Over the years she has integrated her professional background in education, social work and theology to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to research, service provision and public advocacy. Her primary research interest is on gendered violence and in particular human trafficking.

Through this intimate knowledge of the women’s lived experience, Dr. Reed co-edited the book I Have A Voice: Trafficked Women – In Their Own Words and proposed a new paradigm, the “life course” approach. She recommends a preventative approach to human trafficking in which 17 “optimal life course conditions” (OLCCs) are taken into account for protection, promotion, and development, in an effort to strengthen individuals and help make them less vulnerable to being trafficked. She has presented her research and developments at conferences; workshops; public lectures; UN events; embassies; and keynote addresses, including “What is the OLCC Approach, and how does it relate to efforts underway to prevent human trafficking” at a one-day workshop to begin formulating a comprehensive action-framework to prevent human trafficking organized by Catholic Relief Services and the Centre for Civil and Human Rights, University of Notre Dame.

Prior to her research, Dr. Reed was a part time lecturer for the Master of Social Work courses at RMIT University and coordinator at a women’s safe house in Melbourne, Australia. She managed ’Mercy Care” a women’s safe house for 7 years where she encountered many women and children who were experiencing violence and abuse. Additionally, Dr. Reed was awarded with a Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Fellowship in 2008 where she was one of fifteen Australian leaders chosen from business, government, and community.

In 2015, Dr. Reed took up a role as Resident at the UN MIA Global Action office in New York and was appointed a three-year position as the Coordinator at the UN Mercy Global Action office in March of 2017.


Legal Mechanisms to Eradicate Poverty, 2/7 in NYC

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)
The International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (FIFCJ) invite you to a conversation concerning

Legal Mechanisms to Eradicate Poverty
& Achieve Sustainable Development

Wednesday, February, 7, 2018, 11:45am-1:00pm
UN Conference Room D
405 East 42nd Street, New York, NY

Overview & Moderator

Denise Scotto, Esq., Attorney at Law & International Policy Advisor, FIDA/FIFCJ UN Representative

Special Guest Speakers

  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights NY Invited
  • UN Women Invited
  • Grove Harris, Main Representative to the UN, Temple of Understanding (TOU)
  • Winifred Doherty, UN Representative, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

This is a side event for the UN’s 56th Commission for Social Development 2018.


Grove Harris, Denise Scotto, and Winifred Doherty

View PDF Flyer >>







World Interfaith Harmony Event in NYC, 2/7/18

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an official observance of the United Nations. It is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative, which in 2007 called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common religious Commandments: Love of God and Love of the Neighbor.
Join TOU and other religious NGOs at the Church Center for the United Nations for a World Interfaith Harmony Event:

Inspiring Faith in Humanity

February 7, 2018, 1:00-3:30pm
Tillman Chapel, Church Center for the UN
777 United Nations Plaza, NYC
Faith in humanity brings us closer together, restores dignity to the oppressed, and gives us a collective voice to speak out against injustices. During this event, religious leaders, UN representatives, and diplomats will share their stories and knowledge. Partnership between religious communities and the United Nations will bring the world toward a more compassionate and sustainable future.
Please join us for thoughtful presentations and festive music and food, and to celebrate our faith in humanity.
For more information, contact religiousngo at



UPDATE: Our colleague at United Religions Initiative posted the following commentary and pictures after the event. Click to view the full photo album!

Religious NGOs on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 12/11/2017

The Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations

presents a panel on


Monday, December 11, 2017, 11:00-12:30pm

Hardin Room, 11th Floor
Church Center for the United Nations
1st Ave and 44th St, NYC


Invocation and Introduction
Swami Parameshananda

Carl Murrell, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States

Dr. Bobbi Nassar, NGO Committee on Human Rights, International Federation for Settlements and Neighborhood Centers

Grove Harris, MDiv, The Temple of Understanding

Rev. Dr. Levi Bautista, The United Methodist Church

Closing Remarks
Swami Parameshananda

NGO Committee of Human Rights
The Temple of Understanding
The United Methodist Church

Light Lunch will be served. Please RSVP:

For questions about this event, contact religiousngo at



Indigenous Issues Events April 25 & 26 in NYC

Held during the 2017 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City, these events are open to the public!

The Mining Working Group (a coalition of which TOU is a member), the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM), and the NGO Committee on Indigenous Peoples will host:


Indigenous Stories, South & North
What is the Impact of UNDRIP?  [Flyer]

Tuesday, April 25th, 2:00 – 4:00PM
Salvation Army
221 E. 52nd Street, New York, NY

Indigenous Peoples’ Human, Land & Water Rights
Cases from the Amazonian Region and Beyond  [Flyer]

Wednesday, April 26th,
9:30AM – 12:00PM
Church Center 10th Floor
777 UN Plaza, New York, NY


Additionally, the Center for Earth Ethics, the Interfaith Center of New York, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples will sponsor:


Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: A Panel and Discussion

Wednesday, April 26, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue, Ground Floor

Chase Iron Eyes (Standing Rock Sioux) Lakota People’s Law Project
Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz (Otomi) Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council, Mexico
Tawera Tahuna (Maori: Nga Ariki Kaiputahi) Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples
Naomi Lanoi (Masaai) Human Rights Advocate





Interfaith Service of Gratitude and Remembrance (CSW61)

[4/19/17 UPDATE: Scroll down for photos of this beautiful event!]

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

* * * * *

Photos from the event:

Group, Interfaith Service of Remembrance, CSW61 – March 2017


Rev. Dionne Boissiere, Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations


Denise Scotto, Esq., International Yoga Day Committee


Grove Harris, Temple of Understanding


Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative


Group, Interfaith Service of Remembrance, CSW61 – March 2017









Women as Roots of Change: Sustainable Food Production and Sovereignty (CSW61)

The UN Department of Public Information (DPI),
in partnership with the Temple of Understanding, presents

Women as Roots of Change: Sustainable Food Production and Sovereignty

Part of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (Side Event)

 Thursday, March 23, 2017, 11 am – 12:45 pm
Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York


Building on the intersections between Sustainable Development Goals 2, 5, and 6, this briefing will feature the voices of Indigenous people and highlight women’s leadership role in sustainable food production and sovereignty.


  • Sister Celine Paramunda, Medical Mission Sisters
  • Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation), American Indian Law Alliance
  • Roberto Mukaro Borrerro, International Indian Treaty Council
  • Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier, Chief, New York UNCTAD

The relevant Sustainable Development Goals include:

2. Zero Hunger
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation

The Temple is extremely grateful to Tribal Link for their collaboration on this event.




Click for PDF flyer >>



Roots of Change: Reclaiming Economics for Women and Community (CSW61)

Roots of Change: Reclaiming Economics for Women and Community

Part of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women

Thursday, March 16, 10:30 am
Salvation Army, Downstairs
221 E 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022


Women’s opportunity and necessity has traditionally been in farming and textiles. It is crucial to re-vision women’s roles in a broader context. Women’s economic empowerment needs to involve equity, ownership, and a community focus. Our 10-minute film Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice demonstrates the dangers we face as corporations replace local family farms and fisheries. It features women’s perspectives and includes men on all levels, suggesting the values we need to foster in order to reclaim our economic future.

Speakers will address concerns such as loss of local knowledge, community based solutions, innovative practices, and the impacts of international trade. In our interconnected world, women’s empowerment lies in a robust local community as well as justice in the global community.


  • Sister Celine Paramunda, Medical Mission Sisters
  • Crystal Simeoni, FEMNET
  • Grove Harris, Temple of Understanding

Co-sponsored by the Temple of Understanding, the Women’s Major Group, and the Mining Working Group.

On A Gender-Just & Sustainable Trade Agenda (CSW61)

On A Gender-Just & Sustainable Trade Agenda

Part of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women

Monday, March 20, 2017, 1:15 – 2:30 pm
Ex-Press Bar, Third Floor
United Nations HQ, New York

This panel will consider the impacts of international trade on women’s empowerment in diverse countries, as well as the systemic human rights issues involved. We will explore the potential for trade to support Sustainable Development Goal 5 and be a tool to redress economic imbalances. Economic justice must be strengthened using research, data, education and effective implementation. UNCTAD’s research, mandate, potential and challenges will be presented. 
We will consider the use of a human rights frame: the Human Right to Food and the Human Right to Water (SDG 6) are particularly relevant to women as small farmers and food providers. We will also address women’s ownership of land and/or resources and women’s unpaid labor. Women’s voices from India, El Salvador and the US will be brought in via a short film to frame the gravity of the concerns and call for an inclusive bounty.


  • Grove Harris, Temple of Understanding, moderating and introducing short film Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice
  • Chantal Line Carpentier, PhD, Chief, UNCTAD New York Office
  • Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
  • Respondents, with local/regional updates and promising practices



Temple of Understanding



United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD)
Women’s Major Group
Mining Working Group



UNCTAD – Trade, Gender and Development,-Gender-and-Development.aspx

Women’s Major Group Joint Statement – UNCTAD 14 

Temple of Understanding – Food Sovereignty