The Ambassador Advisory Council (AAC) is made up of Parliament Ambassadors who dedicate their time, effort, and professional experience to develop and improve the Ambassador program. This month we interviewed Carl Jylland-Halverson from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Dr. Carl Jylland-Halverson
Meet Dr. Carl Jylland-Halverson! Carl where are you from?
Fort Wayne, Indiana (near Ohio and Michigan), USA.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your interests are?
I am a husband, father, and animal lover. I am a clinical psychologist and a Professor at the University of Saint Francis. I love traveling, walking, and photography.
You are an incredibly active member of the interfaith movement within your community. How does this involvement manifest itself?
I attend and plan interfaith vigils in Fort Wayne. I attend and support as many interfaith and religious events as possible. I have served on the Mayor’s Prayers for the City committee.
What do you most enjoy about working with people from faiths outside of your own?
Sharing hospitality. Finding common traditions and common forms of worship. I also like discovering our differences.
Clearly being part of an interfaith community has its ups and downs.What do you find most challenging in regard to your interfaith effort?
I have a difficult time when people are suspect of the motivations for interfaith work or when they see it as an opportunity to try to convert members of the interfaith community. Sometimes language and vocabulary can be a challenge.
How did your experiences in interfaith lead you to the Parliament?
I have been interested in interfaith work and comparative religions since I was in middle school. I have always visited other houses of worship and other ethnic communities. I heard about the 2015 Parliament and sought out the Parliament.. it was only natural I would want to be involved in the Ambassador program. The program allows me to tell others about all the good works the Parliament is involved in locally and internationally. It provides me with information on new initiatives, major speakers, and connects me with a cadre of ambassadors I greatly respect.
An Ambassador and a member of the AAC, how did that come about?
There was an opening on the AAC. The Parliament staff were familiar with my blog, my planning for a pre-Parliament Event, and my work in my community. The staff recommended me to the AAC as a possible member. I was contacted and it was requested I attend a few meetings to assess mutual goodness-of-fit. It did not take; long for me to realize the AAC was where I wanted to be to serve my fellow ambassador and the Parliament.
What do you think is the most important thing you have learned through your involvement with the Parliament?
I learned that many problems can be solved, many tensions can be relieved, and many bridges can be built after first deeply listening with focus. We are all smart and gifted, sometimes it is more important that I listen than talk.
Can you share with us the most rewarding thing you have experienced with the Parliament?
Making friends around the globe, knowing that my efforts on an issue is being multiplied by the efforts of brothers and sisters of many faiths all over the world. In a time of turmoil, the Parliament family has reminded me there is every reason to be positive and optimistic.
What is your favorite memory from the 2015 Parliament?
The Plenary Session on Climate Change and on Indigenous Peoples were my favorite. Being commissioned as a group to care for creation and to hear ancestors being called to work with us was very powerful.
You have proven to be an outstanding Parliament Ambassador. How do you explain what the Parliament is and what your role as an Ambassador entails to the new people you meet?
The actual Parliament is a time of work, worship, learning, celebrating, dance, food, and joy. However, the real work for me is being active in the Ambassador Program between Parliaments. It was working locally while thinking globally. It is knowing I am connected with brothers and sisters of so many different faith traditions around the world. The Parliament of the World’s Religions is a rare treasure and it is an honor to serve its members.
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