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Interfaithfully Speaking: Remembering we belong to each other

by Rev. Jan Chase, Unity Church of Pomona

Mother Teresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Remembering the truth of our spiritual interconnectedness, our oneness is critical for our individual well-being as well as for the well-being of the earth and all on it.

The tools and practices of inclusion and compassion work well to rebuild our broken bonds, thus healing us back into the joy of remembering we all “belong to each other.”

As I listen to the international news about bombing innocent people, including women and children in Syria with poisonous chlorine gas, as I see internet postings about punishing Muslims, as I watch the despair of the homeless on my city’s streets, I feel deep sadness.

I wonder, “How did it come to this?” “What can be done to right the wrongs of the world? What can we do to help us all remember that we do indeed belong to each other?”

As a Unity minister and as an Interfaith enthusiast, I believe that we are all connected to each other in and through the Divine. By showing our shared humanity and discovering the similarities of our religious teachings, our barriers to each other begin to break down. And our minds and hearts open for inclusive compassionate action.

One of my favorite scriptures of the Christian Bible is “We know that all things work together for good[a] for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose.” (Romans 8:28). I believe we are all called from every nation, culture, religion, or no religion, to bring our unique gifts and perspectives to the world to create “Heaven on Earth.”

From Micah 6:8 of the Hebrew Bible we also learn, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

And from the Qur’an we find, “O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety.” (49:13). Other religious traditions have similar teachings.

The beauty and the excitement for me comes when people from many cultures and many religious traditions come together to inspire compassion and inclusion. And I do believe that this consciousness is contagious, for it brings great joy to those who participate.

A number of people from Claremont are involved in an upcoming Inland Valley Interfaith Conference entitled “Inspiring Compassion and Inclusion,” which will be held at the University of La Verne on Sunday, May 6.

Registration is online at ivifconference.org or you can register from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at the door.

Claremont resident Devorah Lieberman, president of the University of La Verne, will present at the opening ceremony, along with Claremont resident Cantor Paul Buch from Temple Beth Israel. The mayor of the city of La Verne, Dr. Hum Bui, and Native American spiritual drummers round out the opening and set the stage for the amazing day of “remembering that we do indeed belong to each other.”

Our three plenary session speakers are globally known and will present on various aspects of compassion and inclusion.

Larry Greenfield (Christian) is the executive director of the global Parliament of the World’s Religions; Azim Khamisa (Muslim) is world renowned for his books and speeches on forgiveness after his son was killed by a young gang member; and Ruth Broyde Sharone (Jewish) is an interfaith activist, author and now a musical theater playwright, who will present some songs from her play “Interfaith the Musical” as she prepares it for Broadway.

Two breakout sessions will provide an opportunity to choose from seven exciting options each brought to you by regional interfaith players.

Claremont presenters include:

Dr. Laura Burgis on “Becoming a Compassionate City. How the Charter for Compassion’s Initiative Has Become a Global Movement for Sustainable Culture Transformation.”

Dr. Deepak Shimkhada on exploring the Hindu myth called “Churning the sea of milk: woman saves the day,” which he describes as a tale of a cosmic tension between gods and demons.

Ray F. Kibler III joins Rabbi Zev Feyer and Faheem Ahmad in a panel exploring the roots of division both within and among the three Abrahamic faith traditions and look to models for peace and unity.

Businessman and drug counselor Jim Rhoads offers a session on “The Drug Epidemic and the Role of the World Religions.”

Wisdom from many religious traditions including Baha’i, Buddhist, Cao Dai, Catholic, Hindu, Goddess, Islam, Judaism, Native American, New Thought, Pagan, Protestant, Sikh and Sufi work to transform lives into greater inner and outer peace, joy and happiness.

In addition to the opening and closing sessions, plenary and breakout sessions, a dinner will be provided by the Sikh Community of Santa Ana with local entertainment. It is my hope that by the end of this conference we will all have a greater sense that we “belong to each other.”