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A Mid-Summer Update: Religions for Peace USA Highlights

by Aaron Stauffer

Working Locally, Globally, and Virtually

In the Religions for Peace family our work is founded on values that are deeply shared and widely held. These values, the most obvious being peace and justice, provide us with the motivation and strength to continue the difficult work of interfaith peacebuilding despite the world’s blatant disregard, at times, for human dignity and respect. Our religious traditions offer deep wells of spiritual resource which provide the strength necessary to continue the work. Part of Religions for Peace Connect’s purpose is to provide stories and insights that equip readers for this work. This monthly news source is also a platform to educate readers on the ever-expanding horizons of interfaith peacebuilding.

The end of May saw some key advances in the work of RFPUSA, each of them demonstrating the increasing strength of the RFP family.

These developments came in three main areas:

Climate Change – Religions for Peace USA is working collaboratively with GreenFaith and other educational institutions and environmental organizations to host a number of events in the New York City area during the United Nations General Assembly in September. These events will all focus on the importance of climate change to religious communities. Activities will highlight the importance of new religious voices in the interfaith movement focusing on climate change; youth and indigenous voices will be prominent in these forums. Additionally, RFP and GreenFaith will host an event launching Religions for Peace’s “Climate Change Toolkit,” as well as launch a campaign supporting a national movement of interfaith community activities on climate change.

Countering Islamophobia – We continue to address the importance of anti-Islamophobia organizing in middle Tennessee. This work has brought RFP into collaboration with local colleges to develop curricula, form religious leadership councils, and gather local Jewish and Islamic communities over dinner to create sustainable and substantial interfaith relationships. We are emboldened by the strength and perseverance of our local leaders and will shortly launch a website and local resource center providing viewers with tools and articles on the growing edge of anti-Islamophobia organizing.

Interfaith Webwork – This month, for the second time, we co-sponsor a webinar with the Religion Communicators Council, this time featuring panelists Jim Winkler and Cherilyn Crowe. Winkler is the new General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA and Crowe is the Director of Communications at the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty. Our webinars continue to be a unique aspect of our work, seeking to keep our member communities informed and in touch with our variety of projects and activities.

Religions for Peace USA’s challenge has always been to provide a space where religious leaders can enhance their interfaith peacebuilding work. Sensing the needs and opportunities of our religious communities is a challenge that requires attention to the niches and idiosyncrasies of our family – but our work carries forward through these shared values and commitments to one another. As this summer comes into full swing, we look forward to supporting the work that you all do so well.