Parliament Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week at the United Nations
The global interfaith community gears up annually to demonstrate love between neighbors across the world, February 1 - 7. These days mark the official United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, a time when organizations from small town councils to global agencies showcase the latest efforts of the interfaith movement.
On February 3, the Parliament of the World's Religions, an NGO affiliated to the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI-NGO), advanced its mission of fostering harmony by partnering with multiple organizations for Interfaith Harmony: Implementing the Transformative Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals, an event co-hosted by the UN Committee of Religious NGOs and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).
The occasion brought Parliament representatives together at the United Nations Headquarters in New York:
- Dr. Kusumita Pedersen, a Parliament Board Vice-Chair who co-Chairs the Parliament's UN Task Force, is now serving on the Bureau of the Committee of Religious NGO's at the United Nations and helped to organize the event.
- Dr. John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, attended the event as one of the Parliaments's representatives to the UN-DPI. As a member of the Parliament Board's executive committee, Pawlikowski serves as chair for communications and on its UN Task Force. He is Director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Relations at the Catholic Theological Union, a seminary in Chicago.
- Isobel Arthen, new to the Parliament's UN Task Force in 2016, now begins serving as one of two Youth Reps of the Parliament to UN-DPI. Isobel holds the distinction of attending every Parliament since 1993 throughout her childhood. As one of the 2015 Parliament's Emerging Leaders committee members, Isobel helped develop and present dozens of programs, invited keynote speakers and also performed in the Emerging Leaders plenary with Honey and the Sting.
- Rev. Andras Corban-Arthen, a Parliament Board Vice-Chair who serves on the Parliament's UN Task Force in 2016, was one of 17 presenters from the interfaith community to recite the 17 Sustainable Development goals. Arthen is spiritual director of the EarthSpirit community, and is president of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions.
- Wándé Abímbólá, a member of the Indigenous Task Force of the Parliament and an eminent spiritual leader of the Yoruba religion of West Africa, was featured on one of the program's panels. He is a Parliament fixture having presented at the Parliaments in Barcelona, Melbourne and Salt Lake City. Abímbólá is President and Founder of Ifa Heritage Institute. Deeply rooted in Yoruba oral tradition or Ifa, he received his Ph.D. in Yoruba Literature in 1970 from the University of Lagos. From 2003-2005 he was Special Adviser on Cultural Affairs and Traditional Matters to the President of Nigeria. He was installed as Spokesperson of Ifa in the Whole World in 1981 by the Ooni (King) of Ife on the recommendation of a conclave of West African Babalawos (high priests). The author of many books, he has taught at a number of leading universities in Nigeria and the USA. He spoke on a panel at the UN event.
Parliament Ambassadors took the time during World Interfaith Harmony Week to learn how to conduct local Listening Projects through a presentation from veteran interfaith leader Kay Lindahl. In Chicago, Parliament staff hosted an "Interfaith Ally training" at the University of Chicago following a method facilitated by local Chicago trainers from the Anti-Defamation League (with sponsorship from the Hyde Park Pagans, a registered student organization of University of Chicago).
For the global community, the Parliament released the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions keynote speaker playlists throughout World Interfaith Harmony Week, which are now permanently available for viewing on the Parliament YouTube channel.
World Interfaith Harmony Week also includes a global competition! Read more about the contest to win $50,000 for your interfaith harmony week efforts >
Through this organization dedicated to promoting World Interfaith Harmony Week, activists can learn more about the background and read the official resolution. The idea "was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week."
The World Interfaith Harmony Week was developed subsequent to the pioneering work of The Common Word Initiative," which aimed to guide global Christians and Muslims closer into understanding and harmony.