A Parliamentof the World’s ReligionsHost Cities:A Legacy of Building Bridges,Fostering Social Cohesion
CHICAGO 1993                                                                    Spanning eight days, with over 500 program...
CAPE TOWN 1999                                                                                                            ...
MELBOURNE 2009                                                                                                            ...
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David Vermette Writing Sample: Fundraising Document

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Every five years, the Parliament of the World’s Religions brings together religious leaders, scholars, and practitioners to share their collective wisdom and to deliberate on global challenges. After serving on the team that wrote the Program Book for their 2009 global gathering, the Council for the Parliament asked me to envision, research, and write a marketing document for a VIP fundraiser for the upcoming Parliament in Brussels (2014). Brussels needed a document demonstrating the legacy the Parliament had bequeathed to its former host cities: Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne (2009).

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David Vermette Writing Sample: Fundraising Document

  1. 1. A Parliamentof the World’s ReligionsHost Cities:A Legacy of Building Bridges,Fostering Social Cohesion
  2. 2. CHICAGO 1993 Spanning eight days, with over 500 programs and religious, spiritual and convictional leaders of moreDiversity: it can evoke either humanity’s best response or about 8,000 attendees, the 1993 Chicago Parliament of the World’s Religions focused on an international than forty different traditions. This document has been translated into over 60 languages, inspired agenda while it brought new impetus to the research, and developed an international academicits worst. As globalization continues to lead the world toward interreligious movement in the Americas. following. It informs many comparative religion andthe inevitability of living in religiously diverse communities, a philosophy courses in universities around the world. A major achievement of the 1993 Chicago Parliament was the document Towards A Global Ethic. This As a result of its experiences in Chicago, the Councillingering question from the 20th century demands an answer in landmark document was the creation of a broad- for a Parliament of the World’s Religions developed based, international consultation led by noted a methodology for engaging religious, spiritualthe 21st – how will our nations and local communities respond theologian Dr. Hans Kung and endorsed by the and convictional communities. This methodologyto the challenge of diversity? Will our differing beliefs and Parliament Assembly, a group of more than 200 forms the heart of the site selection process for each Parliament event, as well as a partner cities programtraditions be a wedge dividing us, or can we use them to foster that continues to grow in metropolitan areas around the world.mutuality, goodwill and shared aspirations for a better world? A legacy of the 1993 Parliament is the growth of the interreligious movement in the USA. A studyWhat began with the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in conducted by a leader in the field found that of the more than 1000 interreligious organizations andChicago in 1893 later grew into a vision of cultivating harmony groups in the USA and Canada, most were founded in the 1990s.between the world’s religious, spiritual and convictionalcommunities, fostering their engagement with the world’s An Interreligious Community and Buddhists who came to the po- hood were held, bringing the energyguiding institutions to achieve a peaceful, just, and sustainable Mobilizes In the Wake of Violence dium to proclaim that they are brothers and wisdom of the religious, spiritual and sisters with their Orthodox Jewish and convictional communities to bear in Early on Friday night, July 2, 1999, asplanet. In 1993, the Parliament met again after a 100-year hiatus Orthodox Jewish men, women and neighbors. The following Friday night, search of practical solutions. as Orthodox Jewish men, women and children and their rabbis were walking This model of face-to-face and community- children and their rabbis walked toand has continued to meet in approximately five-year intervals to synagogue, a man named Benjamin synagogue, accompanying them were to-community encounter and engagement Smith drove up in a car and opened became the basis for the Council’s meth- Muslims and Buddhists, Christians andsince. In each city where it has convened, the Parliament of the fire, shooting five adults and one child. Sikhs. odology for interreligious organizing. He then drove to a suburb just above Used in conjunction with subsequent The impetus for the vigil came from four Parliament events, this approach has ledWorld’s Religions has left a legacy of building bridges between Rogers Park, Skokie, where he found years of local organizing in the Rogers to a growing network of local interreli- Ricky Birdsong, the African-American Park neighborhood by the Council for gious movements in cities around thecommunities and of fostering social cohesion. In Chicago former basketball coach of Northwestern University, walking with his children. a Parliament of the World’s Religions. world, including a recently launched social Smith shot and killed him. He then drove Following the 1993 Parliament in Chicago, cohesion project in Malmo, Sweden, which(1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004), and Melbourne further into Skokie and shot two persons religious, spiritual and convictional com- has completed the business of funding of Asian descent and then left the munities that had become acquainted with their feasibility study for a five-year ca-(2009), the presence of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Chicago area. Several days later he made one another through that event asked the pacity building process. This process will his way to Bloomington, Indiana where Council to continue to foster dialogue and begin with religious communities andcontinues through strengthening local interreligious contacts he shot and killed a Korean student and cooperation across the metropolitan area. extend out into a range of other sectors then took his own life. Smith was a mem- Along with citywide events and exchang- and institutions.and through new efforts that promote peace, stability, and ber of a racist hate group. es, the Council launched a pilot project with 18 diverse communities in Rogers Four days later, about 500 members of Park. The work began with apprecia-cooperation among diverse communities. the Rogers Park community held a vigil tive inquiry interviews and a retreat for organized by a group of 18 religious community leaders. Communities were communities. On a platform that night, invited to share in the sacred observanc- with their Orthodox Jewish brothers sat es and cultural festivals of other faiths. Hindus and Muslims, Christians, Sikhs Forums on issues facing the neighbor-
  3. 3. CAPE TOWN 1999 BARCELONA 2004The second modern Parliament of the World’s For the first time in the history of the Parliament, The Barcelona Parliament of the World’s ReligionsReligions acknowledged the extraordinary changes in the site of the 2004 event was chosen through a highlighted the concern of the interreligiousSouth Africa in the 1990s. An important focus of the competitive bid process. In organizing to submit a movement to focus on specific issues facing the1999 Parliament was to embrace a South Africa that proposal to host the 2004 event, religious groups international community, such as access to cleanhad recently experienced a peaceful transfer of power in Barcelona came together as communities as they water; supporting refugees worldwide; lifting thewith the end of the injustice of apartheid. Meeting had never come together before. This site selection international debt burden on the poorest nations; andover eight days, with about 900 programs and more process alone, in addition to the Parliament event overcoming religiously motivated violence. Meetingthan 7000 attendees (about one-half from outside those common messages to the work of the leading itself, was reported to have catalyzed interreligious over a seven day period with 9,000 attendees andof Africa), this event saw a truly global community bodies of an increasingly integrated world. dialogue in Barcelona. The Barcelona Parliament 650 programs, the Barcelona Parliament introducedemerge with an enormous variety of offerings, also engaged local agencies concerned with the special programming including a Parliament Academy The 1999 Parliament also inspired hundreds offrom religious observances to lectures, seminars, challenges presented by increasing numbers of for students, a sacred music concert, a film festival, individuals, organizations, and other communitiesworkshops, symposia and performances. immigrants from different faiths and cultures. The symposia, and a communities’ night. to offer new projects (“gifts of service”) focused program included engagement of not only religiousA major accomplishment of the Cape Town Parliament on concrete, long-term challenges at the local and The 2004 Parliament Assembly at the Benedictine groups but also international and intergovernmentalwas the development of the document A Call to global levels. Parliament attendees received a Monastery of Montserrat near Barcelona also called organizations to focus on key issues.Our Guiding Institutions, addressed to eight of copy of the 1999 Parliament Book of Gifts, which on its attendees to make a commitment, upon theirthe world’s guiding institutions including the featured over four hundred exemplary projects return home, to a simple and profound act intendedmedia, governments, businesses and educational offered on the occasion of the Parliament. These to engage their respective communities. The intentinstitutions. This document proposes new forms of projects included such initiatives as the World of these acts by individuals is to set in motion eventscreative engagement of these institutions with one Movement for Nonviolence; a children’s peace that have the potential to lead to a ripple effect in localanother and with the vital issues that face the global museum; university programs for building bridges communities. These simple and profound acts helpcommunity. Building on the document Towards A in Pakistan; and a community biodynamic farm in alleviate human suffering while they actively involveGlobal Ethic, which articulated four moral and ethical Egypt. The 1999 Cape Town Parliament also focused local communities and institutions in so doing. By thedirectives common to the great religious and spiritual on youth, helping to introduce a new generation to close of the Parliament, participants had committedtraditions, A Call to Our Guiding Institutions applies the hope for a peaceful world through the growing themselves to 500 simple and profound acts. movement for harmony in diversity.Renewed Interreligious Cooperation issues as HIV/AIDS, poverty, and violent When the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative A Legacy of Continuing gion to society); Lleida (2009, Spirituality, Baha’i, Catholic Christianity, ProtestantContinues Social Engagement crime. Through its Open Hearts, Open celebrated its 10th anniversary in Interreligious Dialogue women and society: unity in diversity); Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Minds series of dialogues it continues 2010, it welcomed a keynote address and Perpignan (2011, Religions andThe long struggle to end apartheid had In Barcelona and its surrounding region, Each panelist was asked to respond to to sponsor constructive discussion on by Archbishop Desmond Tutu who modernity). This most recent Parliament,engaged people of many faiths, but once the Parliament of the World’s Religions the following questions: topics vital to the community such as communicated the legacy of the 1999 organized by the Amitié Interreligieuse dua new South Africa began to emerge, was instrumental in the creation of an 1. Gender equality is an indispensable “affirming the dignity of difference” and Cape Town Parliament as well as the Roussillon was held across the Spanishinterreligious cooperation waned. When ongoing series of interreligious events. prerequisite for the development of hu- “ethics in journalism.” critical importance of the Parliament of border at the University of Perpignan inCape Town played host to the Parliament The State of Catalonia has taken an mankind; how can we further promote the World’s Religions. In an interview France where people of Catalan culture inof the World’s Religions in 1999 it helped The Cape Town Interfaith Initiative is en- active role in supporting this interreli- gender equality? Reverend Gordon Oliver, chairman of the that country and from Switzerland partici-to renew this local interreligious move- gaged in its bridge building mission not gious dialogue. These periodic local and 2. What is each religion implementing Cape Town Interfaith Initiative, invoked pated in the event.ment, spawning the Cape Town Interfaith only locally but also internationally. The regional Parliaments, five of which have to establish a peaceful future full of Archbishop Tutu in reaffirming the inter-Initiative. Social justice and generating Initiative is a partner in the Face to Face been held since 2004, are organized by The Catalan Parliament at Lleida served harmony and respect? religious community’s commitment todialogue between diverse faith communities | Faith to Faith program, under the aus- the Catalan Network of Associations of as an event in preparation for the 2009 social engagement: “We must ensure The Barcelona Parliament of the World’sare at the core of the Cape Town Interfaith pices of USA-based Auburn Seminary. Interreligious Dialogue under the coor- Parliament of the World’s Religions in we must engage. Religion engaged in Religions has left a legacy throughoutInitiative’s mission. Since 2000 it has part- Since its inception in 2001, Face to Face | dination of the UNESCO Association for Melbourne. About 800 individuals, includ- conflict in the apartheid era. They were Catalonia of continued support fornered within the community to address such Faith to Faith has brought together hun- Interreligious Dialogue. ing representatives of religious groups, confrontational… Obviously the stance interreligious dialogue. Also, the local dreds of teenagers – Christian, Jewish academics, researchers and other citizens of those days would not be appropri- Each Catalan Parliament revolves around Catalan Parliament has continued the and Muslim – from Northern Ireland, the participated in this gathering highlighting ate now but…Tutu stood up against the a central theme. Since its inception fol- 2004 Barcelona Parliament’s commit- Middle East, South Africa, and the U.S. women’s leadership. This Parliament wit- apartheid guns and police and cartoons of lowing the 2004 Parliament, The Catalan ment to action on local and international “to develop a new generation of leaders nessed a roundtable discussion on “Women this have become our history. Religion must Parliament of Religions has gathered in issues – bringing religious communities able to negotiate a multifaith global so- and Different Traditions.” Among the eight engage in conflict lovingly and must stand Barcelona (2005, Religion in a pluralistic together around issues of common inter- ciety; teens learn how their own religious women who represented a range of up for what it believes in.” society); Manresa (2006, Religions and est while building bridges toward a more traditions and those of others can be Catalan religious organizations were ad- humanism); Madrid (2007, The Earth peaceful world. used to build a more peaceful world.” herents of Buddhism, Brahma Kumaris, Charter and other commitments of reli-
  4. 4. MELBOURNE 2009 CONCLUSIONThe 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in In each of its host cities, the Parliament of theMelbourne presented the theme, “Making a World of World’s Religions has left a presence that promotesDifference: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth.” its vision of a world where religious, spiritual andThis theme continued the concern of the Barcelona convictional communities live in harmony andParliament that religious, spiritual and convictional contribute to a better world out of their riches ofcommunities act on the vital issues of our times such wisdom and compassion; a world where religiousas protecting our global environment, waging peace, and cultural fears and hatreds are replaced withand ending poverty. three European cities wishing to strengthen their local understanding and respect; and where all life on social ties in the light of the reality of accelerating our fragile Earth is cherished, protected, healed andHeld over seven days, with 590 programs attended by cross-border immigration. The US State Department restored.6,000 participants, the Melbourne Parliament sought and the White House Office of Faith-Based and environs, to a roundtable on multifaith educationthe full participation of indigenous and aboriginal Neighborhood Partnerships sent representatives From confronting religious and racial hatred in Melbourne, the host city for the Parliamentpeoples and focused on the challenges faced by to Melbourne and held a “listening session” with in Chicago, to supporting the interreligious of the World’s Religions has enjoyed a legacy ofthese communities as well as the wisdom these participants from a wide range of religious traditions cooperation that was characteristic of the anti- interreligious and cross-cultural bridge-building. Intraditions offer in the face of worldwide challenges. and guiding institutions, while prominent institutional apartheid movement in Cape Town, to regular Chicago, Cape Town, Barcelona and Melbourne, theThis Parliament brought together indigenous and players, such as the World Bank and United Nations interreligious dialogues in Barcelona and its Parliament of the World’s Religions has served:aboriginal leaders from all the continents of the agencies, also participated. • To encourage mutual respect among religious,world enabling an Assembly of Indigenous Leaders The legacy of the Melbourne Parliament included spiritual and convictional communitiesto convene to discuss matters of common interestincluding the relationship between indigenous strengthening an already active local interreligious • To support communities and institutions to workpeoples and other communities. These leaders movement while fostering its growth. For example, collaboratively in addressing critical issuesalso participated in the broad range of Parliament when the site selection process for the 2009 • To build bridges between diverse groupsprograms, bringing indigenous wisdom into the Parliament began, three of the forty cities that make up the Melbourne metropolitan area had interreligious • To strengthen local interreligious movementspanels, plenaries and discussions. groups. A year after the Parliament, thirty-seven cities • To foster social cohesionThe Melbourne Parliament also brought significant had a local interreligious council. In Melbourne, theparticipation from international leaders and bodies. Parliament continued its legacy of developing dialogueIts focus on social cohesion attracted interest from and promoting interreligious contacts.Australian Group Highlights These roundtables focused on the inter- A statement issued by REENA highlightsThe Role of Education in section of education, ethics and religion. why Australians are engaging in thisa Multifaith Society Australian scholars and community lead- discussion about religion and schools: “A ers discussed such topics as religion and comprehensive education about the diversityEducation is an essential component of education in Australian schools; shift- and value of religious and ethical traditionsthe interreligious movement. Religious ing from special religious education to within Australia would be more in line withliteracy is one step toward peace. Among multifaith education; countering religious current policies and world best practices withthe legacies of the Melbourne Parliament prejudice and advancing respect for reli- regard to promoting social inclusion, inter-was the first Religion and Education in gious diversity; faith-based schools; and cultural understanding, and broader religiousMultifaith Australia Roundtable, hosted by religion and diversity in the new (Austra- literacy.”the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and In- lian) national curriculum.tercultural Relations - Asia Pacific, Monash The working group REENA holds that regu-University, Religions for Peace Australia, Participants in these events formed a new lar interreligious dialogue fosters “socialand the Together for Humanity Founda- working group called the Religions, Ethics inclusion” and “intercultural understand-tion. This event was held at Monash and Education Network Australia (REENA). ing.” In the diverse nation of Australia,University, Melbourne in December 2010 The aim of the working group is to move from the Parliament of the World’s Religionson the one-year anniversary of the 2009 discussion to action, focusing on three broad has left its mark, supporting a concernParliament of the World’s Religions. A areas: 1) including religions and ethics in the for religious literacy driven by the hopesecond event was hosted by The Centre for new national curriculum; 2) a comprehensive for mutual understanding and respectResearch on Social Inclusion, Macquarie review of special religious instruction/educa- between religious communities.University, in February 2011. tion in government schools; and 3) religion and ethics educational resource development.
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