A New Year’s Message from the Chair of the Board: Reflecting on 2023 and Welcoming 2024
Dear colleagues, Jai Jinendra.
As we welcome the new year, I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude for what we accomplished in 2023 with the support of our global interfaith community. I am honored to continue my work with PoWR as the Chair of the Board in 2024. I will be joined in my work by our dedicated Officers, new and returning trustees, our Executive Director and his staff, and individuals like YOU who are dedicated to the future of our organization.
“I can’t begin to express what it meant to serve as the first Jain and the first Indian Chair of the Board at a Parliament Convening. The love and blessings that I have received from everyone who stopped to wish me the best at the Convening, has only given me more energy to continue to work in the space of interfaith dialogue and continue to find solutions to our global issues.”
Join me in congratulating our officers on their re-election for 2024: our Vice Chairs, James A. Lynch, Jr. and Rev. Charline Manuel; our Secretary, Rev. Dr. Scott Stearman; and our Treasurer, Imam Saffet Abid Catovic.
I want to reiterate my welcome and congratulations to the incoming Class of 2026 who began their term on January 1: Tarina Ahuja, Br. Benedict Ayodi, Rev. Rich Havard, Dr. Azza Karam, Annie McKinney, and Dr. Nayana Shah. I hope you will join me in welcoming them and learning more about the importance of their work, their voice, and their commitment to the mission of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Learn more here→
Additionally, I extend my heartfelt thank you to the members of the Board that ended their term on December 31, 2023: Naeem Baig, Rabbi Michael Balinsky, Dr. Manohar Singh Grewal, Thomas Lemberg, Ven. Dhammadipa Sak, and Bruce Knotts. Their work over the past three years and during the 2023 Parliament Convening was vital in the success of our conference and the incredible program offerings that shaped 2023.
My deepest gratitude to the 2023 members of the Circle of Patrons: Blouke Carus, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation: Founded by Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the Charter for Compassion, the Circle of Friends for VRG Vision, the Fetzer Institute, the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ), the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, Steve and Jessica Sarowitz, the Wayfarer Foundation, and Weixin Shengjiao: Sagely Teachings of the Heart. On behalf of the Board and Staff, I offer our deepest appreciation to these greatly valued Patrons for their important support and commitment to PoWR. Learn more here→
2023 marked a historic milestone for the organization and for myself as Chair. I can’t begin to express what it meant to serve as the first Jain and the first Indian Chair of the Board at a Parliament Convening. The love and blessings that I have received from everyone who stopped to wish me the best at the Convening, has only given me more energy to continue to work in the space of interfaith dialogue and continue to find solutions to our global issues. I invite you all to celebrate the amazing work of PoWR and our communities this year; it would not have been the same without all of you.
In 2023, the Parliament of the World’s Religions:
- Hosted our most international Convening yet, welcoming 8,200+ attendees from 97 countries representing 218 religious and spiritual traditions.
- Reached over 2.5 billion people worldwide through the media coverage of our inaugural Parade of Faiths, the 2023 Convening, and the immersive community events.
- Partnered with the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative to share an urgent plea to protect the Amazon and the human rights of its Indigenous Peoples.
- Successfully lobbied for recognition of the Parliament of the World’s Religions’ historical significance by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.
- Partnered with the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement at Seattle University to offer Seeking Religious Literacy, an online course advancing faith and interfaith understanding.
- Upheld its role of engaging guiding institutions by collaborating with partners at the United Nations and through an interfaith lens addressing the Israel-Hamas War, Nuclear Disarmament, the Right to a Healthy Environment, and the Vatican’s Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.
- Published three supplements to the 2020 report Faith Action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Translated our foundational document Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration into Chinese, Polish, and Spanish.
- Published a collection of biographies of influential women of faith entitled Women Advancing Knowledge Equity: The Parliament of the World’s Religions.
These accomplishments were made possible by every volunteer, committee member, Convening attendee, presenter, luminary, sponsor, trustee, and subscriber who supported the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2023.
“We can celebrate the closing of an event, an experience, a year. But I hope that 2023 is not a closing. Let it be an awakening.”
We came together, celebrated our humanity and each other, and committed to trying to understand each other’s perspectives. We looked into each other’s eyes and said, yes, together we can do it. And yet our challenges persist. Our world is facing unimaginable suffering. World conflicts have shown just how fragile our hard-earned progress on understanding, solidarity, and peace are, how easily they can be eroded.
As I reflect on the heartwarming successes of 2023 and the heartbreaking challenges we are facing for 2024, I want to reiterate a key point from my closing remarks at the 2023 Parliament Convening. We can celebrate the closing of an event, an experience, a year. But I hope that 2023 is not a closing. Let it be an awakening.
We have work to do in 2024 and I am incredibly grateful for the support team we have put together as we advance our mission and build from the successes of 2023. I invite you to join me in supporting Parliament by becoming a supporting member or donating today.
On behalf of myself and the Board of Trustees, I wish you a very happy new year. May 2024 continue to be a year of awakening and action in our shared pursuit of peace, justice, and sustainability.
With deep gratitude,
Mr. Nitin Ajmera
Chair of the Board
The Parliament of the World’s Religions