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World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

Q&A with Board Member Zeeshan Suhail 15 July , 2013

Filed under: Press — Michelle Earhart @ 10:42 am

Get to know Zeeshan, part of UNICEF Pakistan and the World Faith board, in this Q&A from UNICEF:

 Why did you want to work with UNICEF?  

I was always very passionate about children and youth. When I found out about a consultancy within the UNICEF Pakistan office, I promptly applied and was delighted to join the organization.

What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?

My colleagues don’t know that I’m the winner of an American TV show called “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”

Learn more about Zeeshan here.




Interfaith Appalacia – The First Jew I Met 18 April , 2013

Filed under: Blog Post,Chapter Reports,News,Press — Michelle Earhart @ 2:55 pm
The First Jew I Met
Excerpt from a story by Chad McKnight, Outdoor Education Coordinator 
Read the complete story in the upcoming Interfaith Appalachia Journal, a collection of testimonies, stories, and art from participants and IA community members.

“…[David’s] views were so much different than mine. Not just his religion, but everything. I eat every kind of meat there is, he is a vegan. I am a very conservative republican, he is a liberal democrat. I carry a gun in the woods; he has never shot a gun, and spends most of his time on concrete. I am an orthodox Christian, he is a liberal Jew. How in the world can we get along with each other much less how could I help him bring about world peace?

“Even though it sounds like we would have nothing in common, we quickly became very good friends, and my reservations were eased. I also realized that religion is not worth having, if you don’t share it. Working with IA has given me the opportunity to share what I believe with people I would have never even met otherwise. It also has given me a chance to dispel some of the negative stereotypes about us hillbillies. I have been working with IA from day one, and recently became the Outdoor Education Coordinator, which allows me to show off the beauty of Harlan County to many more people.”


Interfaith Harmony Week with World Faith 10 April , 2013

Filed under: Blog Post,Chapter Reports,Interfaith Issues,Pictures,Press — Michelle Earhart @ 2:52 pm
Six chapters of World Faith participated in the UNAOC’s World Interfaith Harmony Week this year! Here are some pictures of  two of the amazing events:
WF Indonesia organized two events: a discussion of religious perspectives in peacebuilding, and a Peace Dance. The discussion brought Muslims, Christians, and Hindus from the Interfaith Women’s School together to talk about the peace-building process in post-conflict areas. Many participants were able to express their thoughts as victims and survivors of the Poso conflict, and together, participants brainstormed how they could use religion to counteract political conflicts in their communities. The women who gathered hope to talk with 100 houses of worship in 2013 in order to show the Poso community that religions can work together to build peace.
Later in the week, a Peace Dance invited over 100 women and children from 24 villages in Poso to come together and dance for an hour. The dance not only brought together an interfaith group to campaign against violence on women and children, but was the first movement in a public space in Poso where women and children could campaign against violence.
Peace dance 3Peace dance 2
WF Pakistan also organized two events. The first was a panel discussion on the scope of interfaith dialogues in Pakistan, which had over 75 attendees. The second was the “Diversity Tour to Worship Places”, a model which seeks to bridge gaps between youth of different faith and backgrounds. 25 young people visited Muslim mosques, Hindu mandirs, Sikh temples, and Protestant and Catholic churches. At each location, participants were given a tour by the hosting faith’s youth, and then given the chance to hold a dialogue with hosting faith leaders  about the site and the traditions, symbols, history, and commonalities of the particular faith.

Frank Fredericks at Clinton Global Initiative 29 March , 2013

Filed under: News,Press — Michelle Earhart @ 2:09 pm

Clinton Global Initiative recently interviewed Frank Fredericks about what it’s like to launch a startup in: The Stories Behind The Startups: Frank Fredericks, CGI University Class of 2008.

The biggest perk of social entrepreneurship? The freedom, according to Frank, who enjoys his autonomy as executive director of World Faith. “The best part of starting my own organization is being able to tinker, question, and innovate everything, and never having to say ‘that’s just the way it is’ and accept that it can’t be changed,” he said.

It’s great to see Frank get recognition for his work with World Faith! You can read the full article here.


Congratulations Shahid, Acumen Fund’s Pakistan Fellow! 8 February , 2013

Filed under: Blog Post,News,Press — Michelle Earhart @ 4:37 pm

Shahid Remat, our own director of World Faith Pakistan, has just been selected for Acumen Fund’s inaugural class of Pakistan Fellows! He is one of only twenty people chosen for leading a “unique project with large-scale social impact in Pakistan.” The program will provide the opportunity to develop leadership skills, advance personal social change projects, and connect with the global community.

We are very proud of Shahid. World Faith Pakistan runs the Women Adult Education Center, which has helped many women gain literacy, life, and livelihood skills, and the Interfaith Center, educating interfaith youth and helping them visit places of worship. See some pictures of the Women Adult Education Center in one of our previous blog posts.

Read more about the Acumen Fund and Shahid’s selection here.


Faith Inspires: World Faith Demonstrates How Religion Can Work For Peace 22 June , 2012

Filed under: News,Press — Nele @ 10:00 am
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This week’s Faith Inspires highlights World Faith, an NGO whose mission is to “counter religious extremism and strife by demonstrating how faith can inform work for unity and peace, rather than hate, war, and division.”

Frank Fredericks, World Faith’s founder and executive director, founded the organization in New York City after seeing first-hand the human cost of religious conflict in Egypt and Lebanon. Noticing that it was primarily young people who were the perpetrators and victims of violence, Frank wanted to promote interfaith cooperation by “mobilizing religiously-diverse young people to serve their communities in local development projects.” The result: World Faith. World Faith believes in “dialogue through action” and today their projects range from women’s empowerment, education, and HIV/AIDS sensitization to economic justice, peace-building, and environmental issues.

Originally founded as a campus club at New York University in 2006, World Faith has grown tremendously in the last six years. World Faith has taken a grassroots approach, and formed partnerships with local NGOs in South Asia, Middle East, Africa and around the United States. As of now, it has 17 chapters in 14 countries. In 2011, more than 500 activists volunteered over 16,000 hours in 10 countries and impacted the lives of over 50,000.

Originally posted on HuffPost Religion


Youth and Students Engagement in Peace-Building through Dialogue 16 April , 2012

Filed under: News,Press — Nele @ 10:00 am
Tags: ,

The root of DIALOGUE is the Greek “dia” and “logos”, which means “through meaning”. Understanding Dialogue with Discussion, in Dialogue people are seeking for a more complete picture of reality rather than breaking it down into fragments or parts as happens in Discussion. Having Dialogue is not about convincing others of certain point of view; there is no emphasis on winning, but on learning, collaboration and a synthesis of different points of view instead. Dialogue is towards a community-based culture of cooperation and shared leadership. Thus, a Dialogue of Life is one of the best ways to express ourselves for mutual understanding. Without Dialogue the world would be either silent or suffered from misunderstanding voices.

Why Dialogue with other Religion? This is a burning question of the present time. Religious pluralism has been a wealth of the Asian continent; on the other hand, it has been a fertile ground for conflicts and communal violence. Although supposed to be a personal and community belief of love and peace, religion by vested interest turns out to be an erupting volcano, causing countless sufferings to the toiling masses and the already marginalized.

There must be a clear understanding that the many conflicts and problems happening around in the present world are not caused by religions themselves, but a misuse of religious ideology. Moreover, religion should not be a tool to draw boundaries, but a spirituality to overcome barriers for an inclusive ground. Looking into the social, economic, political and cultural context, youth and students should realise that Dialogue is a way to move forward to build a just society.

Though the initiation of such Dialogue is religion-based, it relies on justice for all, no matter believers or non-believers. A true Dialogue is for the abundant life of all. Peace could not be seen without Justice, which could be achieved only when everyone respects all people and everyone can Dialogue with each other. Last few year I am working with the youth and students and I believe harmony should be pursued and dialogue be practiced at the individual and grassroots levels. Living in the political tension of “minority” and “majority”, facing discrimination even by the legal instrument, and feeling insecure though there was increasing legislation of national security policies, youth and students should read the signs of time and be an instrument to develop alternatives and cultivate just peace. We have to consider that dialogue is a part of life and an ongoing journey for a person to have holistic grow. Dialogue should be a sustainable process with humanity and an integrated approach.

All religions speak about peace and harmony through forgiveness and reconciliation. Religions are positively teaching us to love neighbours including ‘enemies’. However, looking at the present situation, it is quite different and sometimes showing the opposite indications. Some people or groups even misunderstand and misuse religion. Today we are facing the same situation and struggle. Understanding that through religions, cultures are defined and spiritually inspired in history, we must acknowledge the historical fact that there are many different religions. Exclusivism is neither a solution nor an alternative, and we must stop the wider world to continue spreading this vicious circle of insanity. We must meet them, not in the old way, but with understanding and respect of their spirit of self-affirmation. Realising this burning issue, it is urgent to work with the students of different faiths and eventually build up an inter-faith students’ network. Peace through dialogue is a key to uphold justice, which is the passionate desire to motivate people to work towards peace.

All people are unique  masterpiece creation. We are born to be independence with human dignity, the aggregate rights and freedoms of all. As understood in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” This includes freedom to change religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance (Article 18). At the same time, everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction or discrimination of any kind including religion.

As one of the religions, the Vatican Council in the Catholic Church declares that every human person has a right to religious freedom. It means that all people are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to her/his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others within due limits. (Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae on the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on 7 December 1965).

After the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the Catholic Church became more open for dialogue between different religions. Based on clear, specific and precise guidelines rooted in the teachings of Nostra Aetate (Vatican Council II), the Catholic Church understands inter-religious dialogue with a definite meaning. In her practice the Church approaches inter-religious dialogue in different ways: reciprocal communication, attitude of mutual respect and friendship, constructive common action, obedience to truth which transcends all and respect for freedom of conscience.

Pope John Paul II said, “The unity of all divided humanity is the will of God”. The Catholic Church in Asia (FABC 7th Plenary Assembly, Jan 2000) regards inter-religious dialogue as a priority in local Churches. The Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference (FABC) is very much concerned about inter-faith issues; therefore, the Church encourages every Christian to enter into dialogue with other religions. The goal of dialogue is to bring both partners within closer reach of complete salvation. A continuation of awareness-raising and advocacy should be pursued.

In the past, the global community understood peace as the absence of conflict and war. However, in Pope Benedict XVI’s message of World Day of Peace entitled “IN TRUTH PEACE”, peace embodies its own truthfulness because of its undeniably “intrinsic and invincible truth” (no. 3) for reasons that peace corresponds “to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us.” (nos. 3, 6) Second, the truth about peace is that it is “the fruit of an order which has been planted in human society by its divine Founder…which must be brought about by humanity in its thirst for ever more perfect justice.”

Presently,  I am working with the Youth Net which is interfaith youth network. During our meetings we feel and every one we realize that religious freedom is basic human rights. Respect to religion is an attitude for justice. So inter-faith issues, developing network with different faiths and organising training on inter-religious dialogue are given priority. Youth and students must continue to play the prophetic role to denounce any unjust practices. There must be efforts on critical study of the current realities and effective strategy-planning for structural changes to ensure fairer and non-discriminative means of distribution of the world resources amongst all people and all nations of different religions. The intellect and skills of students should be developed along with Dialogue. Hence, the necessary condition of Dialogue is a mutual respect for the identity and belief of each party and the elimination of any impediments. The intention of Dialogue is not to create one common religion, but harmony with diversity.

Bipul Alite Gonsalves  is Executive Secretary for Programmes, The National Council of YMCAs of Bangladesh, National Director, Y’Net, Interfaith Youth Network, and Regional Coordinator, EASY Net (Ecumenical Asia Pacific Students and Youth Network)

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