Archive for the ‘URI Multiregion Blogs’ Category

Tolerance Day commemoration

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

Dear Friends,

Tolerance Day4 

On a windy day on Mt. Olives, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, a group of Muslims, Jews, and Christians gathered to strengthen the energies of religious tolerance and harmony during this difficult and violent period locally, regionally, and worldwide.  We gave the blessings of Peace — Shalom, Salaam. 



Elana Rozenman

Executive Director

Paris Tragedy

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Dear Friends,

It seems that the recent tragedy in Paris has mobilized world attention on the scourge of terrorism which is daily destroying the lives of thousands of people around the globe. The horror of what happened there had already unfolded days earlier in both Beirut and Baghdad. Unfortunately many terror organizations use distorted religious beliefs as the basis for their violence. I recently returned from the Parliament of World Religions where I participated in activities with my sisters Potre Diampuan, Sabina Rifat, and Despina Namwembe, and heard about the horrific acts of religious violence taking place in Africa, Pakistan, and the Phillipines. In Jerusalem we are daily dealing with terrorist attacks — and it is not a recent phenomenon but has been going on for years. My own son is a survivor of a Hamas terrorist suicide bombing, so the violent reality of terrorism in the name of religion has seared my soul and powerfully motivated me to work to build harmony among the people of different religions in our region.

I firmly believe and experience that the only antidote to terrorism is building trust among people and strengthening the truth of our religions. Already thousands of people in the hundreds of URI CC’s around the world are doing the holy work of promoting enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence. Now we are called to strengthen our commitment, expand our activities, and enlist thousands of others to join us.

Blessings and love,

Elana Rozenman
Executive Director
TRUST – Emun

Ahowan International

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

This video shows how Ahowan CC works with all types of organizations, people of many different faiths and cultures by the common bond of Animals (including the human animal).

 It is this common bond that the message of compassion, peace, understanding and love has been shared in all 50 of the United States, British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Costa Rica, India and Sri Lanka.  

Ahowan CC  will continue its activities of Awakening  Humanity to Oneness With All Nature in the Fall of 2015 in Mexico, Central and South America. If your CC would like to meet or work with Ahowan directly in your area, please contact us.  


Animal Love Bless-wings,
Rev. Myshell Howler HM, RScP, OAC
Dr Ronald Landau RN, MS, ND

Parliament of World’s Religions – PEACE WITHIN FAMILIES – The Human Approach

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Sharing a short video of our presentation at the Parliament couple of weeks ago. Thank you ~ Roopshee Burman 

Hope if Life Foundation would like to thank the organizers of the Parliament of World’s Religions for giving us the opportunity to share about Peace within Families – the Human Approach on Friday, October 16, 2015 from 7:00-8:00 am at Salt Lake City, Utah. Our journey began during the Vedic times, followed by codification of Hindu Laws (Manusmriti), Buddhism, Islam and ended with living in the current digital age. The primary focus of the presentation was women and children, their empowerment and dis-empowerment through the ages and how that impacted family life. We present to you a portion of the interactive session from that morning. Due to some technical difficulties we were not able to record the entire presentation. We apologize for the same. 



Parliament of World’s Religions – PEACE WITHIN FAMILIES – The Human Approach

Hope if Life Foundation would like to thank the organizers of the Parliament of World’s Religions…

Where’s the Money Hiding? – Fundraising for the Grassroots

Sunday, November 15th, 2015


Info About This Conference: (Video Above!)

In the the next installment of our webinar series, we’ll cover a topic we receive questions about time and time again — fundraising! In a webinar entitled “Where’s the Money Hiding? Fundraising for the Grassroots,” you’ll hear from interfaith leaders who have successfully funded their activities, and then have a chance to ask them your questions. 

We understand that every organization is different and has unique challenges, so we’ve compiled a stellar panel to share with you a variety of proven strategies for funding nonprofit organizations. Our speakers include:

- Danya Wellmon, co-founder of Women Transcending Boundaries, will talk about how to find the resources you need to fund your organization and projects. She’ll share how she’s found funding and networking opportunities in her community. 
- Grace Patterson, Director of Global Programs for World Faith, will share how her organization sustains itself almost entirely on small donations. 
- Sue Martin, United Religions Initiative’s Director of Development, will round out the panel with her more than 20 years of professional fundraising experience in a variety of nonprofit organizations.

In this about 1 hour web conference, we will cover:
  • Grassroots Fundraising
  • Interfaith
  • Grassroots Fundraising

Hosted by: United Religions Initaitive – North America

United Religions Initiative is the world’s largest grassroots peacebuilding network. Our webinars cover a variety of topics relevant to those working in the interfaith, nonprofit fields, and more!

Science and Spiritual Quest Conference

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

…Although this event has passed – you can still watch the recording on YouTube in its entirety. 

The 9th All India Students’ Conference on Science and Spiritual Quest (AISSQ-2015) to be held at Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, West Bengal, India from 30 October to 1 November, 2015. Live Streaming by Centre for Educational Technology, IIT Kharagpur 

9am – 7pm IST (Indian Standard Time, GMT+5.30)


YouTube Link are given below————-

1.       AISSQ 2015 on 30th October 2015 (1st Half) —– Link –

2.       AISSQ 2015 on 30th October 2015 (2nd Half) —— Link –

3.       AISSQ 2015 on 31st October 2015 (1st Half)   —— Link –

4.       AISSQ 2015 on 31st October 2015 (2nd Half) —— Link -

5.       AISSQ 2015 on 1st November 2015 (1st Half) —— Link –

6.       AISSQ 2015 on 1st November 2015 (2nd Half) ——- Link – 

- Vasudeva Rao

URI and Parliament of the World’s Religions

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Dear URI Multiregion,

I would like to share a few things from the Parliament of the World’s Religions. 

1.  URI showed up in many meaningful ways.  So many wonderful people who came from our GC, our Indigenous members, our staff, and members–URI’s diversity added so much to the Parliament.  Our gracious hospitality suite and reception offered space and opportunity for so many exchanges!  Thank you to all who planned for this space and who helped throughout the Parliament. GREAT JOB!!  

2. URI  had many presentations and workshops.  The Women’s Silent Prayer Walk was very powerful and lead by URI women. Special thanks go to Elana Rozenman and her team from Israel, Despina Namwembe from Uganda, Potre Diampuan from the Philippines and Sr.Sabina Rifat  from Pakistan.  

3. The two part workshop on Healing Hearts at Wounded Knee touched me deeply.  The presenters gave background, personal stories, scientific research on the passing down of traumas to subsequent generations and the importance of healing and the essential part that ritual can play in healing the traumas.  

*Chief Arvol Looking Horse opened both days.  He rides on horseback to Wounded Knee each year in Dec to arrive at Wounded Knee for the annual commemoration. Dec 29, 2015 will be the 25th Anniversary Ride and the 125th year since the massacre. 

*Audri Scott Williams gave moving testimony and shared her URI work so powerfully.  Thank you Audri!

*Saniel Bonder beautifully shared the scientific work on trauma and the physical and spiritual connections.

*Jean Fleury, discussed the Global Wide Sacred Ceremony that will take place on Deb 29 at noon local time to pray and be in sacred space. “Together let us honor all who have fallen not only at Wounded Knee, but all of our beloved ancestors who have fallen throughout the millennia of global conflict.”   

*Stephen Dinan connected The Shift Network to the Dec 29 global call to action! 

Everyone is inviterd to sign the Pledge:

To honor the endless lineage of our Ancestors & Relatives who have sacrificed their lives in war, violence and massacre; we pledge to End Massacre; We pledge to End Genocide; we pledge to End Racism, we pledge to End War. 

May Peace Prevail on Earth,


Monica Willard
URI United Nations Representative
International Day of Peace (September 21) 
NGO Committee, Co-chair

Nuclear Weapons and the Moral and Spiritual Compass

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Nuclear Weapons and the Moral and Spiritual Compass

Nuclear Weapons and the Moral and Spiritual Compass

From left to right: Jane Goodall, Jonathan Granoff, and Bishop William E. Swing. Photo by Barbara Hartford.

Parliament of the World’s Religions – October 17, 2015
Nuclear Weapons and the Moral and Spiritual Compass
Speakers:  Bishop William E. Swing, Jonathan Granoff, Jane Goodall


Presentation by Bishop William E. Swing

Opening Comments

(Jane Goodall had just completed her remarks to a mountainous roar of applause and a standing ovation.  Since I had been introduced earlier, I just got up to speak.)

“Wow!  Following Jane Goodall! Now this a daunting challenge.  I feel like the man who had lived through the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood of 1936. He talked about it constantly and got pretty good at speaking on the subject.  So he spoke as an after dinner speaker around Johnstown and around the county, always rehearsing the events of the Johnstown flood of 1936. Eventually he died, and when he met St. Peter, he mentioned that he was a terrific after dinner speaker and would be glad to help out at a heavenly banquet.  Several months went by and finally there was a call from St. Peter.  There was going to be a banquet on Thursday night, so St. Peter invited him to speak.  He readily agreed….then inquired.  ”When will I come on the program?”  St. Peter said, “Oh let’s see…you follow Noah.”


Like the rest of you in this auditorium, I read news about nuclear issues wherever and whenever I can. And as I read, I try to place the new information into the old categories that I have structured in my mind. And when I am not trying to archive it all, and usually when my eyes are closed, involuntarily little pictures tease my brain. Today I would like to bring out into the open, three of these pictures that hang on the wall of my unconscious and my conscience.

 In the first picture, as a citizen of the Earth, I see myself standing there, thanking the Pakistanis for not nuking the Indians and vice versa.  I am thanking the Russians for not nuking the USA and vice versa.  I am thanking China and Israel for not nuking their neighbors.  And on and on! I find it astounding that these bombs have been around for decades and no one has unleashed them.  Thank you….whoever you are….with nuclear weapons at your fingertips, for not deploying them.  And furthermore, thank you to all of the individuals and agencies that spend twenty-four hours every day, in silos and submarines, in all of the nuclear countries safeguarding these obscene weapons.  Thank you to agents, especially in Eastern Europe, who track and block the black market sales of radioactive materials to ISIS. Thank you to citizens around the world who care deeply and meet regularly and advocate vociferously trying to curb and eliminate nuclear weapons. Thanks to the agencies in nuclear countries that spend 99% of their time trying to figure out how not to use your nuclear weapons.  Thanks to the countries that have resisted the temptation to create nuclear weapons.  And thanks to the countries that had nuclear weapons and then got out of the business altogether.  In the first picture in my mind, I see myself as a citizen of the world thanking so many for having prevented grotesque tragedy.

In the second picture in my mind, as a priest, I picture myself pronouncing absolution, forgiveness of sins, on all of the people who have the blood of nuclear complicity on their hands.  With a stole around my shoulders, I would be saying….. “Sinner, you have been forgiven for creating the science of this monster.  Sinner, you have been forgiven for building this obscenity.  Sinner, you have been forgiven for using this demonic terror as leverage for your political agenda. Sinner, you have been forgiven for paying taxes that sustain and proliferate these agents of ultimate plague.  Sinner, you have been forgiven for cheating on nuclear treaties by playing word games.” Absolution for you all! Let’s start all over again fresh.

If……for just a moment… all of us who carry around nuclear kinship and shame could be thanked for our attention to safety and, at the same time, be forgiven for our subtle and insidious nuclear guilt, then in that special moment of grace, maybe we could behave like human beings. Presently our nuclear weapons control us, and we behave like frightened slaves.  But in a grateful and absolved moment, we might turn the tables and get in charge of nuclear weapons. We can do exactly what we all know in our heart of hearts is the right thing to do, that is eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.  This is the second picture that dances past my brain.

In the third picture, the scene of Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac keeps jumping up in my mind when I think about what nuclear destiny awaits us.  And always with sober hope.  At the beginning of that story it says that Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  The story says, “……Isaac, his child, his only son, whom he loved.” With these few words the ultimate tension is established.  Do you obey the clear call from God or do you rely on your parental instincts of nurture?  Do you love God more than your family?  Once the story says Abraham “loved” Isaac, the stakes grow higher.  It becomes a love story…… put to the ultimate test.

Perhaps, the possession and use of nuclear weapons are, in the end, an ultimate love story put to the ultimate test…….whom do you love most and how far are you willing to go to be loyal to that love?  My family?  My tribe?  My nation?  My religion? My God? In the nuclear weapons realm, security is always love in action.  We say, “I want my beloved to be secure.”  Undoubtedly, nuclear weapons are about power, control, “Becoming a force to be reckoned with” (as Putin said last month), about pride, status, and a desire to overcome vulnerability (as Japan opens a plant next spring that could process enough spent reactor fuel to make a 1,000 nuclear bombs a year). Anyone who toils in the arena of nuclear weapons has to be, at all times, deeply frustrated, and that is because, in my opinion, the Cuisinart of nuclear motives and strategies is always spinning. But the greatest of these motives is love, just like Abraham, who was told by God to prepare to kill his son, whom he loved! But where there is love, there is always hope.

The final part of the story that captures me is when Abraham is standing over Isaac…. who is tied down on an altar about to be stabbed to death and burned.  I don’t know why extreme violence is built into the experience of religion.  Perhaps because it is built into the experience of life and we just have to deal with it.  “God told me to do it” is an alibi or a testimony that echoes down through the centuries …with persecutions, beheadings, crucifixions and holocausts…. right up to today.

But….at the achingly tense moment of violence and love, “the angel of the Lord called out from heaven and said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy.” That was the moment when the curtain was pulled back, and we glimpsed the raw, tested and exquisite love that the Lord and Abraham had for each other. If the angel of the Lord isn’t heard, then all there is, is slaughter.  But if someone is listening for an angel, the world tilts on its axis. 

Today we have the child, we have all the children of the world tied down on the altar of sacrifice of our nuclear fetish…….and the people who have the weapons in their hands aren’t listening for an angel.   The cult of human sacrifice didn’t disappear thousands of years ago with Abraham.  It just morphed and is alive and evil today.

You… are the angel.  The only voice left at this achingly tense moment of violence and love.  You are called to say to custodians of nuclear insanity a simple message.  ”Do not lay a hand on the girl….do not lay a hand on the boy.” This is what Abraham heard and the world turned on its axis.  If you say it, there can be a tomorrow.


Sunday, October 25th, 2015


Marwa Adel

A strategic focus for CARAVAN is to encourage and facilitate East-West artists’ exchanges; i.e. artists from the Middle East having experiencing the West and vice versa. This year we are pleased to be able to focus on the noted Egyptian artist Marwa Adel who has secured a Fulbright Fellowship and as of last month is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, focusing her study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA).

Marwa, who comes from a Muslim background, has been an important artist in CARAVAN’s interfaith exhibitions for a number of years. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Marwa holds a BA and an MFA from the Advertising Department in the Faculty of Applied Arts from Helwan University, Cairo, and now teaches there.  She is photographer and installation artist who combines text with photography in many of her projects. Her use of text accentuates and confirms the visual message, making use of digital and standard photography, calligraphy and digital photo manipulation.  Marwa defies traditional Middle Eastern norms by using pictures of the human body in her work, using it as a form of expression and in revolt of social restrictions. Reflecting on her art, Marwa says, “One needs to express themselves in a way to make society hear, feel and understand you…. When you find your life you will find your identity.”  She has held numerous solo exhibitions, and participated in noted international exhibitions, winning esteemed awards for her bold and powerful creations. 

In addition to assisting Marwa during her time in the US, CARAVAN is organizing two solo exhibitions of her work in the first half of 2016; in the greater Chicago area and in Philadelphia at the historic Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral (More information will be shared closer to the exhibition dates).

-For more information on Marwa Adel’s work in CARAVAN’s “THE BRIDGE” exhibition, see: “Transition” 

-Marwa Adel’s work is commercially represented in the US by CARAVAN’s partner Syra Arts.

Herding Mediterranean Peace Donkeys

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Herding Mediterranean Peace Donkeys

On 13 November, the island of Malta will have 21 more donkeys: Mediterranean Peace Donkeys.  At the Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale (13 November 2015 – 7 November 2016), CARAVAN is hosting the Mediterranean Peace Donkey, a peacebuilding public art exhibition of 21 life-sized fiberglass “Maltese” donkeys painted by premier Maltese and Mediterranean artists symbolizing the need for peace and compassion between the Middle East and West, and more specifically, throughout the Mediterranean region (i.e. a donkey for each of the 21 Mediterranean nations). The new form for the life-size fiberglass Maltese donkey was sculpted by the premier Egyptian artist Dr. Reda Abdel Rahman and fabricated in Malta.

CARAVAN’s Mediterranean Peace Donkey exhibition is using the unique symbol of the renowned and endangered Maltese donkey to focus global attention on four critical needs:

  •  -Interreligious Harmony- as it represents “peace and compassion” in Christianity, Islam and Judaism highlighting the importance of peace, harmony and tolerance between faiths. 
  • -East-West Relations- Four Maltese donkeys were given to George Washington as a gift just prior to his becoming the first president of the USA, and therefore they symbolize the need of creating respect, developing understanding and encouraging friendship between the Middle East and West.
  • -Donkey Welfare in Conflict Zones- seen as a “beast of burden” for the poor throughout the Middle East, we want to raise global awareness about not only the difficult conditions facing working donkeys, but the plight of donkeys and their owners caught up in the horror of human conflict. CARAVAN is partnering with The Donkey Sanctuary, the global leaders in the field of donkey welfare in this regard. 
  • -Humanitarian Assistance for Migrants/Refugees-a means of journeying, the donkey is a symbol of the thousands of migrants and refugees passing through the Mediterranean, fleeing conflict or economic hardship, and their desperate need for hope and humanitarian assistance.

The Mediterranean Peace Donkey project follows in the footsteps of the widely successful 2013 CARAVAN public art Egyptian peace donkey initiative in Cairo and London which was seen by over 120,000 people.

During the course of the exhibition, CARAVAN also has two concerts at the majestic St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina that feature works and musicians that uniquely blend and explore the richness of Middle Eastern and Western musical traditions: ‘On A Caravan’ and ‘Notes of Faith’. 

For the Mediterranean Peace Donkey initiative, CARAVAN is partnering with The Donkey Sanctuary together with United Religions Initiative (URI).