By Paul Chaffee
INTERFAITH ORGANIZATIONS FACE FUNDING DIFFICULTIES
Late last month a joint statement was posted cancelling Parliament of the World’s Religions in Brussels, previously scheduled for 2014.
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions and the Parliament of the World’s Religions Brussels 2014 regretfully announce that, due to the European financial crisis, it has not been possible to raise the necessary funds to hold the 2014 Parliament. The two organizations look forward to exploring other potential joint projects. Separately, the Council is pursuing options for the next Parliament with other interested and qualified cities.
Interim Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson is unequivocal that the search for a new site is going forward vigorously. “Absolutely! We should have the location by mid-2013, and by then we’ll also know whether 2014 or 2015 works best.” Guadalajara, Mexico was a finalist in the last site competition, and Edmonton, Canada has shown an interest, as may others.
Interfaith Fiscal Difficulties
With recession on both sides of the Atlantic, the Brussels disappointment is not the only financial storm the Parliament is suffering. Executive Director Rev. Dirk Ficca’s recent departure after 30 years of involvement as well as the need to reorganize the Parliament’s staff were precipitated by long-term fiscal difficulties familiar to many interfaith organizations.
“Funding interfaith is something the Parliament along with the whole interfaith movement needs to explore more seriously,” Mary Nelson notes, “fragmented though we are.”
It is heartening to note that volunteers have been stepping forward to keep Parliament activities alive and well. A new Women’s Task Force, profiled in this issue, is getting established. The Parliament Ambassadors program is being brought back to life, and the Parliament was a co-sponsor of the World Congress of Religions that concluded early this month in Washington DC.
For Parliament fans and interfaith activists, cancelling Brussels is an opportunity to become more engaged locally. This is not the end of the Parliament or the community it is growing around the world. More like a big bump in the road and an opportunity for each of us to help.