Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Universal Peace Federation Canada

On Monday, 22 February, 2011, I addressed the delegates of the Canada, Universal Peace Federation on the topic, "Interfaith Acceptance, and the Next Step."

The presentation examined the enduring causes for interreligious discord, the conditions that have increased the acceptance of interfaith activity and consciousness, and next steps, horizons, and responsibilities for activists.

Here are a couple of pictures from the program

One of the pictures is posed with UPF Secretary General of Canada, Franco Famularo, Rabbi Yaakov Levy, former Chief Rabbi of Geneva, and Resham Singh, head of the Sikh Community of Montreal.

Here is the official, brief report from the Secretary General of UPF, Canada:

“Acceptance of Interfaith – the Next Step”

UPF Montreal – February 21, 2011

In an effort to support the spirit of World Interfaith Harmony Week, UPF Montreal continued its series of monthly meetings, this time on February 21, 2011.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by UN General Assembly Resolution A/65/PV.34

. The proclamation “Encourages all states to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week."

The keynote speaker for this event was Dr. Frank Kaufmann, an interfaith veteran of over 30 years. He currently serves on the board of Trac5, a prominent inter-religious organization devoted to Christian Muslim re-conciliation. (For more information on Trac 5 please visit their site at: http://www.trac5.org/


While in Montreal this time, he held several private meetings, conducted a number of larger meetings and seminars, and agreed to extend his stay an extra day so as to address this UPF, monthly meeting.

Participants at this meeting included leaders and representatives from Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, several Christian denominations, and members of other faiths. Of note were, Mr. Resham Singh, leader of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar, the largest Sikh temple in Montreal, former Chief Rabbi of Geneva, Yaakov Levy, currently of Congr├ęgation S├ępharade Beth Rambam in Montreal, and Father Tibu Fernandez of the Roman Catholic St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal.

Dr. Kaufmann spoke on the “Acceptance of Interfaith – the Next Step”

In his talk, he presented the data that close to 70% of the world’s 6.8 Billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion. He noted that interfaith collaboration has not been popular until recently, but there has been progress. Dr. Kaufmann recommended that this progress is attributable in part to to the following factors:

- increase in travel and population transfer

- secularization and decline of established religions

- questions concerning the effectiveness of the United Nations

- an increase in religious identification

- war and social destabilization

- globalization of the media and the advent of social media

- the presence of popular religious figures such as the Dalai Lama and Pope John Paul II

- the fall of communism.

The presentation was met with several questions, and lively discussion followed.

The next meeting of UPF Montreal on March 16 will feature a presentation by the Executive Director of the Canadian Center for Ecumenism, Mr. Anthony Mansour.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Canadian Center for Ecumenism

On Thursday, 17 February, I had the pleasure to meet with Anthony Mansour, executive director of the Canadian Center for Ecumemism in Montreal.

The center is an important institution serving the government, and social and religious institutions across Canada as a resource, providing needed information and understanding whenever transreligious, and cross-cultural forces should inform the development of decisions and programs.

Frank Kaufmann, Anthony Mansour, Franco Famularo

Thursday, February 17, 2011

59th National Prayer Breakfast

The Trac5 board timed our board of directors meeting to coincide with events at the 59th Annual Prayer Breakfast.

Trac5 founder Mark Siljander with two board members Frank Kaufmann (left) and Susan Pausky (right)

The National Prayer Breakfast, primarily at the Washington Hilton, near Dupont Circle in Washington DC,

and the many events all week surrounding the breakfast itself (taking place Thursday, February 3) is spiritually rich and fascinating.

The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event held at the Washington Hilton on the first Thursday of February. The breakfast has taken place since 1953 under the Eisenhower Presidency. The founder of the event was the Norwegian-born Methodist Clergyman, Abraham Vereide. Among the nearly 3,500 guests are international invitees from over 100 countries. It is hosted by members of Congress and is organized by The Fellowship Foundation – a conservative Christian group often referred to as “The Family.” The breakfast was initially termed the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, but was officially changed to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1970.
Keynote speakers at the breakfast included Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace

And US President Barack Obama