Circle of Patrons
The Circle of Patrons is a group of generous supporters and interfaith leaders who wish to help ensure the strength and sustainability of the Parliament’s vision of interfaith understanding and partnership working to bring into being a world of peace, justice and care for the Earth. We offer our deepest gratitude and appreciation to these greatly valued Patrons for their important support. These are the Members of the Circle of Patrons for the year 2023.
To inquire about becoming a Member of the Circle of Patrons, contact Emma Carr, Director of Development.
Blouke Carus is a distinguished chemist who revolutionized the production of the vital environmental chemical, potassium permanganate. After graduating from Cal Tech and the University of Freiburg, he transformed production techniques at Carus Chemical in La Salle, Illinois. At this time he began a lifelong preoccupation with teaching, literacy, and books for both children and adults. In 1961, with his wife Marianne, he launched the Open Court Integrated Language Arts Program to improve children’s reading comprehension; the program is now part of McGraw Hill. Blouke also helped develop the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in the U.S. His company Carus Books carries on the legacy of Open Court Publishing, established in 1887, where Blouke’s grandfather, the scholar and visionary Paul Carus, was the first editor and also helped organize the 1893 World Parliament of Religions. At its Convenings the Parliament gives the Paul Carus Award to one or more recipients for “exemplary and visionary efforts in the promotion of interreligious harmony and cooperation.”
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation: Founded by Dharma Master Cheng Yen is a worldwide humanitarian and educational organization established in 1966 by Dharma Master Cheng Yen, a Taiwanese Buddhist nun. Tzu Chi volunteers endeavor to promote the universal value of “Great Love,” reverently accepting the Buddha’s teaching of “expressing great kindness to all sentient beings, and taking their suffering as our own”; manifesting kindness, compassion, joy and selflessness through concrete actions. In its “Four Major Missions” of Charity, Medicine, Education and Humanity, Tzu Chi carries forward large-scale programs of aid globally to the poor, health care, bone marrow donation, education at all levels, international relief and environmental protection. In addition to international medical programs during the COVID pandemic, Tzu Chi currently is extensively involved in aid in India and Nepal, the Buddha’s birthplace, and ongoing support for refugees from conflict areas and those affected by extreme weather events. See: https://www.tzuchi.org.tw/en/
The Charter for Compassion is a declaration to restore compassion and the Golden Rule to the center of our moral and religious traditions. In 2008 acclaimed scholar and bestselling author Karen Armstrong received the TED Prize and made a wish—to help create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion. After much work and the contribution of thousands of people, the Charter was launched at the United Nations in 2009. The Council of Conscience helped to formulate the Charter for Compassion document. The Charter for Compassion provides an umbrella for people to engage in collaborative partnerships worldwide. Its vision is “A transformed world where all life flourishes with compassion.” Its mission is to bring to life the principles articulated in the Charter for Compassion through concrete, practical action in many different sectors by connecting, cultivating, and encouraging networks of compassionate action. Millions of people have affirmed the Charter and the movement has attracted followers worldwide. Over 440 cities and communities in 54 countries, are developing and promoting compassionate initiatives. See: https://charterforcompassion.org
The Circle of Friends for VRG Vision is a group of Jains inspired by the vision of Virchand Raghav Gandhi (VRG), who represented Jainism at the historic World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 and brought Jainism into a dialogue with other faiths which has continued ever since. Through VRG and his legacy, Jainism has inspired leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and many others with the modern relevance of the Jain values of Nonviolence (Ahiṃsā), Non-possessiveness (Aparigraha) and Non-Absolutism (Anekāntavāda) – all key tenets for a peaceful, just, sustainable and loving world. Jains are proud to carry forward the torch lit by VRG and to develop programs and initiatives that will spread in the world the message of the Tīrthaṅkaras or “Makers of the Crossing”, including Mahāvīr, the 24th in the ancient Jain lineage of great enlightened beings.
The Fetzer Institute was founded in 1962 by John E. Fetzer. According to its mission statement, “At the Fetzer Institute, we believe in the possibility of a loving world: a world where we understand we are all part of one human family and know our lives have purpose. In the world we seek, everyone is committed to courageous compassion and bold love—powerful forces for good in the face of fear, anger, division, and despair. Inspired by our founder John E. Fetzer, we encourage each other to discover new ways of knowing our sacred world and explore our personal spiritual journeys as we work toward transformed communities and societies in which all people can flourish. We work with thought leaders to develop programs, research projects, convenings, and funding collaborations in the sectors of faith, spirituality, democracy, education, and organizational culture.” The Institute is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where its Seasons retreat center is located. See: https://fetzer.org
The Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) is a faith-based charitable organization that has grown from strength to strength founded on deep commitment to community. It embodies the values of shared responsibility and strength in unity. Drawing on the ideals of ‘nishkam sewa’ – selfless service, its members have embraced a Sikh faith-based ethos that has at its core the principle of ‘sarbat da bhala’ – may everyone prosper. GNNSJ has expanded its faith-based, values-led philosophy into various sectors. This has led to the Nishkam Group of Charitable Organizations, active in religious practice and propagation, social regeneration, heritage conservation, education, health care and infrastructure development. Since 1995 the Spiritual Leader and Chairman of GNNSJ has been Bhai Sahib Prof. Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia OBE KSG, third in line of its Sikh religious leaders. GNNSJ engages in interfaith dialogue and collaboration at all levels, and one of its recent important initiatives is the International Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation. See: https://gnnsj.org/info/
The Muhammad Alexander Russell Webb Circle of Friends is a group of Muslims inspired by the vision of Muhammad Alexander Russell Webb, who represented Islam at the historic World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Through his speeches and journals The Moslem World and The Voice of Islam, Webb was able to bring Islam into a dialogue with other faiths which has continued ever since. Webb’s vision has inspired later Muslims to develop a sense of how to view and understand Islam as an American faith even though its roots are on other continents. He sought to explain the teachings of Islam in a way that Americans could relate to and find value in the sacred words of the Qur’an and Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) (his words, deeds and affirmations). Today, Webb’s life and writings are the subject of an expanding field of scholarship. The Circle is supported by a number of diverse Muslim communities.
The Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion is dedicated to studying, learning from, and collaborating with religious communities worldwide for the common good. Established in 2017 and inaugurated in 2018, its wide-ranging work includes research, teaching, outreach, and interaction with religious communities, faith and civic leaders, academics and journalists, and the general public. Together, these efforts enable the Institute to foster deliberation, offer training, implement transformative educational programs, and generate ideas on how religion can continue to serve as a force for good in the world. The Ansari Institute embraces an openness to the wisdom of diverse faith traditions, respectful partnership with local and global actors, and collaborations across disciplines to advance the mission of the institute, the Keough School, and the University of Notre Dame. See: https://ansari.nd.edu
Steve and Jessica Sarowitz – Steve Sarowitz is a philanthropist, Founder and Chairman of Paylocity (Nasdaq: PCTY), Director of Payescape, and partner in Wayfarer Studios. A passionate Bahá’i, Steve presents about the Bahá’i Faith and its vision of world unity at venues around the globe. Steve served as Executive Producer for the award-winning documentary “Maya Angelou: And Still, I Rise” and “The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’i Faith,” a groundbreaking documentary. As an international philanthropist, Steve promotes unity and universal education and advocates eliminating racism, sexism, nationalism, and religious prejudice. Steve, a Chicago Area Runners Association Hall of Fame inductee, enjoys running and spending time with his wife, Jessica, and two children. Jessica Sarowitz is the Managing Partner of 4S Bay Partners, LLC, a family office management company. She is also the co-founder and Managing Family Director of the Julian Grace Foundation. Jessica is focused on advancing BIPOC leadership in private and philanthropic ventures, including orphanages and clinics in Central America, innovative education programs for foster children, urban centers for arts and technology education, vocational workforce training centers, environmental justice causes, and the preservation of Indigenous cultures. She recently served as executive producer on the film “With This Light”; a documentary about Sister Maria Rosa Leggol of Honduras, known as the Mother Teresa of Central America.
The Wayfarer Foundation is a Bahá-i-inspired organization which funds and supports spiritually rooted and justice-oriented nonprofits. Launched by Steve Sarowitz in 2021 with the mission to “advance humankind spiritually towards a future peaceful world civilization,” it centers its work on the power of universal participation to create a more hopeful, joyful and just world. The Wayfarer Foundation partners with three sister organizations: Wayfarer Studios, which creates purpose-driven, multi-platform film and television productions that elevate and speak to the human spirit by producing stories that serve as true agents for social change; BeLove.org, a nonprofit organization that supports charitable programs inspired by Wayfarer Studios’ content, and also the Julian Grace Foundation, an entrepreneurial private foundation that does high-engagement grant making in order to create a just, unified and hopeful world. JGF is also funded by the Sarowitz family. See: https://wayfarerfoundation.org
Weixin Shengjiao: Sagely Teachings of the Heart is a new religion established in 1982 by Grand Master Hunyuan Chanshi in Taiwan. Weixin Shengjiao’s doctrine, known as “Cultivating the Way for the Sake of the Nation, Praying for Blessings on Behalf of the People,” is focused on disseminating the practical wisdom of the I Ching (or The Book of Changes), Feng Shui, and religious cultivation. Its purpose is to assist individuals in resolving life’s challenges, thereby enabling them to attain economic prosperity, establish stable livelihoods, pursue spiritual elevation, and facilitate the transcendence of souls in the spiritual realm. Grand Master Hunyuan Chanshi inherits the heavenly mandate of “Universal Peace” from Immortal Master Guigu (Guiguzi), Wang Chan Lao Zu, and leads all his disciples in the religious practice of dispelling calamities and overcoming tribulations to pursue a peaceful world.