UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE Southeast Asia & the Pacific Regional E-Newsletter

URI SEAP e-newsletter Vol. III No. 1

URISEAP 4th Regional Meeting in Cebu City, Philippines

Cebu City-- the jewel city of Philippines—played host to the 4th annual Regional Meeting of the URI Cooperation Circle (CC) leaders/ representatives and trustees of the Southeast Asia-Pacific region. Held on June 5 – 9, 2008 the theme of the gathering this year was: “Strengthening Leadership in the SEAP Region.”

Hosted by the Cebu-based Kalinaw CC under the leadership of Sr. Sandra Clemente, RSCJ (outgoing Regional Trustee)... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html

by Sr. Sandra G. Clemente, RSCJ
URI SEAP Trustee

The Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia and Cebu is a cradle of Catholic faith. To launch an interfaith sector in this part of the Philippines is indeed a historic event. This occasion was celebrated last June 8, 2008 at Fort San Pedro, Cebu City by the interfaith community in the presence of dignitaries from the city gorvernment and religions. The Interfaith sector was born out of the vision of the City Mayor, Hon. Tomas Osmena, to consult the various sectors of the society to help in the city's strategic planning for Cebu City+10... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/editorial-interfaith-sector-local.html

WALKING WITH WITH THE MONKS: An Interfaith Journey to China
by Dr. Amir Farid Bin Dato Isahak
URI - SEAP Global Trustee

Recently I was invited to join a group of monks on a study tour of the different cultures and religions in China. We were led by the Most Venerable Master Chin Kung, the Honorary Adviser to the Cheng Ho Multi-Culture Education Trust (CHMCET), which sponsored the trip. The aim was to promote religious harmony and world peace... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/walking-with-with-monks-interfaith.html

Conversations with Dr. John Gurusamy (Anglican Christian from Malaysia) EMBRACING DIVERSITY is an interview section with practitioners of interfaith dialogue. In this issue, we feature Dr. John Gurusamy, an Anglican Christian from Malaysia. He is the coordinator of the Malaysian Interfaith Network (MIN) Cooperation Circle and also a member of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship (InSaF) CC... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/conversations-with-dr-john-gurusamy.html

Forum on Moral Imagination & the Mindanao Peace Process
Dr. Abdulhusin "Jo" Kashim presided over a public forum organized by The Peacemakers' Circle CC last February 27, 2008 as the concluding activity under the URI Moral Imagination (MI) grant that was awarded to our Philippine team in August 2007.The forum, entitled "Finding Place for Moral Imagination in the Peace Process in Southern Philippines," was inspired by the conversations that the members of the MI team had concerning Dr. Jo's experience as a member of the MNLF--Joint Working Group of the GRP-MNLF-OIC (Gov't of the Rep. of the Phils.-Moro National Liberation Front-Organization of the Islamic Conference, a union of Muslim nations to which Muslims in the Philippines looked for support) Tripartite Meeting... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/forum-on-moral-imagination-mindanao.html

Intra-Imam Grassroots Dialogue workshops in Manila
Assisted by the Australian Embassy’s Strengthening Grassroots Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding (SGIDU) Program, The Peacemakers’ Circle has successfully conducted a series of four (4) three-day intensive training workshops on interfaith dialogue for at least twenty-five (25) Muslim imams in each of the following four major grassroots Muslim communities in Metro Manila: 1) Phase 12 of Baranggay 188 in Tala, Caloocan City (March 26 – 28, 2008); 2) Salam Compound in Culiat, Tandang Sora in Quezon City (March 30, Apr. 5 & Apr. 13, 2008); 3) Golden Mosque in Quiapo in the City of Manila (Apr. 2 – 4, 2008); 4) Green Mosque in Maharlika Village, Taguig City (Apr. 14-16, 2008). Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/intra-imam-grassroots-dialogue.html

Imams-Priests Moving Ways forward for Nation-Building in Manila
The Imams-Priests Dialogue training project that was conducted by The Peacemakers’ Circle CC (PCFI-CC) in Metro Manila last September-October 2008 under the SGIDU Program inspired the creation of the NATIONAL IMAMS-PRIESTS DIALOGUE FORUM (NIPDF) among its participants. Upon approval from the Australian Embassy of the proposal for the use of the unused funds of the project to support the ongoing process of strengthening the organizational model of the NIPDF, PCFI-CC organized a dialogue forum on April 12, 2008 (Saturday) that brought together all the imams and priests who participated in the seminar-workshop... read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/imams-priests-moving-ways-forward-for.html

Muslim-Christian Dialogue for Nation-Building Pilot Summer Training Program - Manila
The Interfaith Peacebuilding Institute (IPI) has just been successfully launched by The Peacemakers' Circle CC last April at the University Hotel of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Two modules of the pilot summer training workshop program on MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE FOR NATION-BUILDING were conducted with the help of its partners—the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (ECID-CBCP), the Imam Council of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines' Institute of Islamic Studies—and the invaluable support of the U.S. Democracy Small Grants Program. Module I (Introduction to Muslim-Christian Dialogue) ran from April 20-24, and Module II (Building Bridges of Muslim-Christian Understanding) from April 27-May 1... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/muslim-christian-dialogue-for-nation.html

Updates from Muslim-Christian Peacemakers' Assoc. CC - Caloocan City, Phils.
Muslim-Christian Livelihood program in full operation
On February 13, 2007 the members of the Muslim-Christian Peacemakers' Association (MCPA) CC of Tala, Caloocan City in Metro Manila were awarded the seed capital for their individual livelihood projects...

A.I.D. for peace formed by Imams of Tala
On March 26 – 28, 2008 The Peacemakers’ Circle CC conducted the intensive three-day Intra-Imam training on interfaith dialogue to 25 imams and grassroots Muslim leaders in Tala, Caloocan...
Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/updates-from-muslim-christian.html

Interfaith Celebration of Women's Month in Manila
When the women from different faith traditions on-board a convoy of three vehicles entered the Muslim grassroots community of Salam compound in Barangay Culiat of Quezon City in Metro Manila, they were merely looking forward to seeing again their new-found Muslim sisters and have a simple merry celebration of the Women's Day with them. Little did they know that a sumptuous kanduli ("feast") of different tribal dishes awaited them, and a most colorful and intimate gathering of interfaith women would take place...
Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/interfaith-celebration-of-womens-month.html

Interfaith Youth Orientation in Manila
On February 9, 2008 (Saturday) the United Religions Initiative Southeast Asia-Pacific (URI-SEAP) Regional Office, in cooperation with The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc. gathered 16 youths from different organizations, schools and faith backgrounds for a Youth Orientation on Creating a Culture of Peace through Interfaith Friendships... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/interfaith-youth-orientation-in-manila.html

Updates from TULAY CC - Bohol, Phils
Reported by Ms. Marjorie Angalot

I. Outreach at Tagbilaran Dumpsite
On December 2007, the TULAY CC members together with Mr. Boni Quirog of Bohol Goodwill Volunteers CC, visited a dumpsite located at the outskirts of Tagbilaran City...
II. Self-Transformation & Youth Leadership Seminar
In the hope of awakening our higher potentials, the “Trust, Understanding and Learning Among Youth” (TULAY) CC and the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Bohol jointly sponsored a 2-day “Self-Transformation and Youth Leadership” seminar last May 24-25, 2008 in Tagbilaran City...

III. Planning meeting
Last 11 June 2008, the TULAY CC members once again had a meeting at Jojie’s restaurant, Tagbilaran City. Being one of those who attended the URI-SEAP 4th Regional Meeting and witnessed the launching of Interfaith Sector of Cebu City, Ms. Marjorie Angalot recounted how she felt privileged and honored to represent the youth CC...
Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/updates-from-tulay-cc-bohol-phils.html

Updates from PAKIGDAIT CC - Mindanao, Phils.
Maranao Language Program MOA signedLooking at language as a vital ingredient in peacebuilding and dialogue, Pakigdait CC has partnered and signed on February 7, 2008 a Memorandum of Understanding with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 103rd and 104th Brigades for the Maranao Language Program...

Pakigdait CC has been at the forefront in the declaration of March as the Lanao Month of Peace. This year’s celebration saw a series of activities spread throughout the whole month. Among these was the Panagtagbo sa Kalinaw...

Pakigdait CC conducted on March 24, 2008 the Pastors, Priests, Imams and Nuns (PPIN) conference where participants were trained to facilitate interfaith dialogues at the grassroots level...

Equally valuing the youth sector for its crucial role in peacebuilding Pakigdait CC gathered them in a two-day Interfaith Youth Convergence on April 22-23, 2008...

On April 25-26, 2008 Pakigdait went on a Historical Journey to “expand the horizon for peace” by visiting historical sites for peace and conflict in and around the province...
Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/updates-from-pakigdait-cc-mindanao.html

Update from COMMON CC - Australia
The Centre of Melbourne Multifaith and Others Network (COMMON) CC had their first meeting for 2008 on Feb.6 (Wednesday) evening. Well attended, well represented and productive, the meeting saw the reelection of their incumbent president, Ms. Jessiee Kaur-Singh, who accepted the post for another two year term... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/update-from-common-cc-australia.html

URI bears witness to the launching of Cebu City's Interfaith Sector
On June 8, 2008 the historic Fort San Pedro in Cebu City was the setting for the inauguration of the Interfaith Sector in the City with the theme “One in promoting life and integrity of Creation”.

More than 150 people representatives from different religious traditions gathered in the afternoon in the beautiful lawns of the Fort to witness the inauguration ceremonies led by the City Mayor, Tomas Osmena. In the presence of the city mayor, representatives from the Catholic Archbishop of Cebu, United Council of Churches in the Phils., Office on Muslim Affairs, other distinguished guests and the local interfaith community-- the URI SEAP delegates were honored to participate in the momentous occasion which was envisioned to inspire the active role of interfaith cooperation in the next 10 years of the city... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/uri-bears-witness-to-launching-of-cebu.html

Message of URI ED for Cebu Interfaith Sector
Rev. Charles P. Gibbs, Executive Director

Dear Mayor Osmena and Visionary Leaders of Diverse Faiths and Movements,Greetings of love and peace on behalf of the global community of the United Religions Initiative, at work in 67 countries to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings!

As I understand, Fort San Pedro is the oldest fort in the Philippines, completed in 1738. Over the past 270 years, it has served as a military installation for Spanish, Philippine and American soldiers. It has been used as a prison camp, a school and a garden center. It has fallen into ruin and been restored... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/message-of-uri-ed-for-cebu-interfaith.html

A message from the URI hub: GC Trustees Elections
Dear Friends, Greetings of love and peace. It is a joy to share with you the results of the trustee selection process in seven of URI’s eight regions (We expect that voting the Middle East and North Africa region will be completed by June 30th)... Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/message-from-uri-hub-gc-trustees.html

POETRY: "Doves Without Wings"
(a tribute to peacemakers)
by Bok Araneta*

if cast into the world of broken dreams
where darkness looms over the gloomy sky,
where shams and drudgeries silently echo
the pains and cry of wounded souls,
what is there to live for?

...Read more: www.uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/07/poetry-doves-without-wings.html

URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East

(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)

As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.

As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.

We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:

* To stop the violence immediately.

* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.

* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.

We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.

And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.

URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.

We, the members of the Global Youth Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, wish to express our concern at the current situation in Gaza. Conflict creates hardship and fear for people on both sides and takes its toll on civilians, both young and old, and the livelihood of communities and economies.

As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.

We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.

They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.

We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.