Bahai News - Local and Global Participants Gather in Pittsburgh June 20, 2000 18:27

Local and Global Participants Gather in Pittsburgh June 25-30 to Focus On Ending Religiously Motivated Violence

Highlight: Signing United Religions Initiative Charter

PITTSBURGH, June 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Pittsburgh is the site where hundreds of delegates from around the world representing the world's great faith traditions will gather at Carnegie Mellon University for a six-day annual Global Summit from June 25 to June 30. Highlighting the Summit is the June 26 signing of the Charter that will officially launch the United Religions Initiative, occurring at Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland at 3:30 p.m. The Charter signing will take place on the 55th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter. The United Religions Initiative (URI) is an international grassroots organization spearheading efforts towards ending religiously motivated violence and creating cultures of peace. Guiding the summit is Mahatma Gandhi's challenge, "We must be the change we want to see in the world."

Highlights of the Charter Signing ceremony will be a procession of all participating delegates in traditional religious regalia and ceremonial dress led by a drum troupe from Manipur, India. There will be formal calls to convene in each native language by members of religious traditions from every continent. In addition, electronic greetings from worldwide sites, including the United Nations in New York will occur. Finally, all present participants will formally sign the charter.

URI's founder, The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing, Episcopal Bishop of California, says the reason for the charter signing and global summit occurring in Pittsburgh is because, "URI is a bridge building organization, and Pittsburgh is the city with the most bridges in North America."

In the midst of this international conference, local students from all faiths will be brought together to promote interfaith dialogue as a crucial first step toward ending religiously motivated violence in our city. The Youth Summit will be held Wednesday, June 28, 2000, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Carnegie Mellon University in the University Center.

On Wednesday, June 28, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., URI will hold a Public Forum where delegates will share their stories of working on interfaith issues around the world. It promises to be a display of diversity, community and culture.

Faiths represented at the Global Summit will include Hindu, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hoa Hao, Buddhist, Taoist, Wiccan, Cao Dai, Baha'i, Sikh, and Indigenous Peoples.

Delegates will come from Argentina, Kenya, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, New Zealand, Uganda, Malawi, Nicaragua, Israel, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, South Africa, Sweden, Gambia, Uruguay, Senegal, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Finland, Vietnam, France, Romania, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala, South Korea, England, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Canada, India, Belgium, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Mozambique, the United States and other countries.

ATTENDEES:
    URI President Bishop William E. Swing of California
    Charles Gibbs, Executive Director of URI
    Global Summit participants and delegates from all over the world
    Local participants include:

    -- Astrid Kersten, Ph.D., Board of Directors, Baha'i Spiritual Community
    -- Dr. Susan L. Nelson, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
    -- Rev. Janet McCune Edwards, Community of Reconciliation
    -- Vinod Doshi, Jain Faith, Hindu-Jain Temple
    -- Harilal L. Patel, Hindu-Jain Temple
    -- David Shtulman, Area Director, American Jewish Committee
    -- Rabbi Art Donsky, Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association, Temple Ohav
        Shalom
    -- Rabbi Alvin K. Berkun, Tree of Life Synagogue
    -- Zahid Mahmud, Ph.D., President, Islamic Council of Greater Pittsburgh
    -- Susan Donnan, Executive Director, Interfaith Hospitality Network of the
        South Hills
    -- Elizabeth Urbaitis, Board Member, East End Cooperative Ministries
    -- Jack Kelly, Chairman of the Board, South Hills Interfaith Ministries
    -- Rev. Lorraine Williams, Board of Directors, Pittsburgh Leadership
       Foundation

SOURCE United Religions Initiative

/NOTE TO EDITORS:

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES:

- 2:30 Procession of participants arrayed in traditional religious,
cultural and ceremonial dress led by a drum troupe from Manipur, India - from
the Carnegie Mellon campus to the Carnegie Music Hall.

- 3:30 Charter-signing Ceremony; URI Cooperation Circles (CCs)
recognition and acceptance as founding members of the United Religions
Initiative.

- 5:00 Reception and celebration, Music Hall Foyer.

/CONTACT: Before 6/23: Karen Plavan, Ph.D., or Suzi Neft Byers, for the
United Religions Initiative, 412-281-7088; or After 6/23: Barbara Hartford or
Patty Lamielle of the United Religions Initiative, 412-268-5440


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