So many people on the Conference call were new to the Charter. We'd like to encourage you to visit the Charter's Religion/Spirituality and Interfaith section on the website. Here you wll find a list of our Religious, Spirituality and Faith-Based Partners and reports, documents and copies of our sector newsletters.
While you are at the the section, take note of the Compassion Reader. Each of our sector's (business, education, environment, healthcare, peace, science and research) has it's own Reader. You'll find that the Religion/Spirituality and Interfaith Reader is currently divided into eight chapters: Compassion and Religion, The Work of Karen Armstrong, Attributes of Compassion, Compassion in Action, Spirituality, Understanding Our Differences and Similiarities, and Becoming Compassionate.
The Conference Call
Marilyn Turkovich, Program Director for the Charter for Compassion International, facilitated this call. She began by telling us that Dr. Joan Campbell (President of the Charter’s Board) is not able to be with us today as planned. Marilyn also explained the format for the call: After a brief presentation by our speaker, Imam Mohamed Magid, the group will be placed in small breakout groups of 3-4 people to introduce themselves, share what their challenges and opportunities are, and discuss today’s question. That 30-minute session will be followed by a “popcorn” session to reflect on ideas of breakout discussions.
Adrew Himes, Executive Director of the Charter for Compassion International, expressed his gratitude to Imam Magid for agreeing to be on the call. The origins of the Charter were in the interfaith world in 2008. Many people from different religions were involved. Focus of the Charter was to express ideas that were common among religions. Imam Magid is a member of the Charter’s Global Council and also currently serves on the Charter’s Board of Trustees. Excerpts from the Charter Website: “Imam Magid currently serves as the President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He is also active in both the interfaith and Islamic community. Imam Magid is the Imam of All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia. He also occupies the Chairmanship of the Fairfax County Faith Communities in Action, and is a Chaplin of George Mason University Campus Ministry… Imam Magid has co-authored two books Reflections on the Qur’an and Change from Within (on domestic violence). Read more.
Speaker: Imam Magid
Imam Magid sent greetings to all participants on the call. We will be speaking about the role of religious leaders and our efforts to create networks of compassionate leaders in the interfaith community. Imam Magid serves as Chairman of the Fairfax County Faith Communities in Action (Virginia). People of good will who come together can do wonders. Imam Magid also works with the Washington DC Metro Interfaith organization, which includes 11 religious groups. We have so much in common among faiths, and we share many values-- helping, serving. The problems we see between people of religions results from not using religion to act in ways our faiths call us to act. Today, we are in a time of interest in interfaith activity. The Imam has seen initiatives across the globe-- in U.S. and around the world. The Muslim community is taking great interest in this work, and there are a number of centers around the world for interfaith collaboration.
Karen Armstrong is a strong leader for the global compassion movement. She challenges people to bring the Charter to their religious communities. She has spoken to many groups including youth camps. It is important that youth issues and curricula focus on the Charter. The Charter can serve as a document to bring people together. Opportunities include good will, and support from various foundations and organizations.
Before Karen Armstrong convened a meeting of religious leaders in Doha, the group had discussed the idea of creating an Interfaith Peace Corps to help religious leaders impact issues of conflict, prevent violence, and tie economic development to issue of faith. After Karen Armstrong convened the meeting, the Charter became the governing document for this group. Every major religion is invited to respond to the Charter and to write their own book in response to the 12 Steps to Compassion (book by Karen Armstrong), based on the scriptures of their religion and to use it as curriculum to train people in compassion. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Imagine in every religious congregation, that there is a group of people dedicated to compassion and to working with the community to focus on issues of common good. This may include connecting with non-profits, (e.g., Habitat for Humanity) that are already working in the community but may need more volunteers. These interfaith leaders could connect every 3-4 months. The work would be done together as interfaith groups.
Recently in Washington DC area, there was an advertisement of hate against Muslims. The Jewish community approached the Muslim community to ask how they might help with this issue. The two groups were committed to work together to transform people from a narrative of hate to a narrative of compassion and love--working together hand in hand to help the community. We need to share a culture of compassion in communities.
There are challenges along with the opportunities. One problem is finding people to commit. It is important to create curricula for people based on the book 12 Steps and the Charter. Many in Imam Magid’s community say that the Charter is the missing link. Compassion is an umbrella concept that encompasses other virtues.
Imam Magid visited Nigeria 8 weeks ago after abduction of the girls from their school. He spoke to Muslim leadership in Nigeria—a wonderful group of people who want to see change and transformation. The next step is to bring Christians and Muslims together. In the US, Imams and pastors have met together in major cities. When we trust, we can work together. He wants to get religious leaders together. Working now with Pakistani Imams and pastors to establish connection to speak with congregations about importance of working together.
Opportunities are tremendous. The challenges, we can overcome. The work of the Charter can help to create a network of business, interfaith, educators, etc. and become towns and cities of compassion. Would like to thank the Charter leaders in Seattle for their dedication and hard work.
Questions for Imam Magid
John Joseph: In Toronto, working to create networks of compassion to respond to emergencies. Have you done something similar?
Imam Magid: yes, in Fairfax County--work with interfaith group on projects. One has to do with freezing weather in winter—and a pledge that no person would suffer in times of freezing temperatures. People from mosques, churches, and synagogues divided the work to provide shelter, food, etc. There was no loss of life due to exposure to freezing weather. Also, we have created community chaplains to address crisis issues and have trained chaplains for disasters.
Monica Willard: First time on the call. Works with United Religions Initiative at the UN. What is being done to help connect interfaith work already going on such as within the URI and efforts for the International Day of Peace? There are many organizations working at UN, and they have good resources.
Marilyn Turkovich: Best way for Charter to grow the network is for people to invite people to be Charter partners. Partners get regular newsletters—from specific sectors and from general membership letter. The Interfaith newsletter is published about every seven weeks. We try to be as responsive as possible. If there is a need for an additional call, the Charter can facilitate.
Question for Discussion in the Breakout Groups
What are the opportunities and challenges for religious leaders (and individuals) for creating compassionate communities?
Popcorn Session; Cultivating the Kernels of Wisdom
Sande Hart: Opportunities are abundant and wide for ways to create compassion in our communities. One of the greatest challenges is: How do the religious leaders respond to both local and global work toward compassion? Remember our common values and celebrate our differences through Compassion Games (see more below).
Barbara: We talked about keeping in touch and following each other with an intention to stay in touch through social media; Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign. Has resources for religious education and faith community initiatives. Can help me examine where I am sharing my charitable dollars.
Monica Willard: So thrilled to meet people from different places. One opportunity mentioned was to BE the compassionate person.
Eileen Epperson: AmeriCorps Volunteer at age 70, has a concern about seniors bullying other seniors. Any community can create its own Charter for Compassion group. Involving schools in compassion initiatives (Saturday morning call on Compassion Games)
Charter Education Sector – Flyer (see below) has about 1000 pages of material for educators on how to teach compassion: https://charterforcompassion.org/education-book.
Compassion Games Saturday Call: Sande holds a conference call on Saturday 8am Pacific- check “Compassion Games” Facebook page; Interfaith community click guide.
Dian Williams: We were exploring opportunities as an interfaith minister and as a citizen of Mexico. Some traditions may not translate into the Spanish culture and may need translation for acceptance in the community.
While it’s exciting to be a part of this work, it can be overwhelming, so it is good to focus. Perhaps a 12 week course in compassion would be a way to get the community integrated.
Marilyn: The Charter for Compassion is working on an online course or series of webinars, tentatively titled Understanding and Working with the Charter to help people understand the Charter’s vision and mission, its work with communities and various sectors, and its information resources to support efforts by individuals and organizations.
Elizabeth: There is an amazing amount of desire and power that is generated on these calls with a wish for an end result. Developing a plan to include the community leaders and boards in the initiative to create a compassionate community.
Steve Colwell: It would be great to have a list of social opportunities so that interfaith communities can address local work. It is important to be aware of the movement of compassion throughout the world.
Marilyn: The news section on front page of the Charter website features good things going on around the world.
Summary: We are a big network and we need volunteers to make the Charter for Compassion work. Grow the network by inviting people so that we grow the global community.
Andrew Himes: Membership Campaign
The membership campaign has recently been launched so that people can become actual members willing to demonstrate their commit to this global compassion movement and take some responsibility for furthering this work. If the Charter’s work is important to you, you can “pay it forward” by becoming a member and by contributing funds. So far, almost 700 people have become members. To become a member, go to www.charterforcompassion.org/join
During our breakout group discussions, various resources are mentioned—other organizations, articles, books, films and more. We have received the following from people who participated in today’s calls, and we would encourage you to read through, identify those that may be useful to your work, and reach out to them to broaden your network as well as the network of the Charter.
Compassion Games: www.compassiongames.org
Reported by Sande Hart
A critical response to a question that arose during our call this morning asking for a list of volunteer opportunities for service, is to look around at what your neighboring congregations are already doing. Who do they love? Who do they care for? Most every faith based organization has at least two non-profits they serve locally.--whether it is a domestic violence shelter, a food pantry/bank, or a homeless shelter. When you show up to serve the needs that are so dear to another congregation, you are demonstrating to your diverse community that you share in the same humanity as they. This is how we can break down the walls of the typical silo mentality while creating a nutrient rich cell where compassion can be received and given in harmony with the nature of that community.
This is the most significant place to start when building community through service. It's also important to support the larger non-profit organizations such as a volunteer center (most counties have at least one) or the United Way's list of non-profits. However, supporting your diverse neighbors by showing love to whomever they care for is a great act of compassion, demonstrates your willingness to collaborate, and makes a profound statement about your tradition.
The Compassion Games seeks to, and is designed to, amplify the Compassion already at work in each community, whether that community is a church, a city, a school, your family, and/or you alone. The Games give us all permission to change the lens through which we see the other—including those of whom we might otherwise be afraid. Imam Magid said today that he has found community service an essential method to empowering our diverse community into cooperation, and subsequently interfaith reconciliation and understanding. Whether you are healing old wounds or addressing fears and stereotypical misunderstandings, the Compassion Games work like emergency preparedness: when we better understand the hearts of our neighbors, in times of crisis we will know where to go, who to lean on, who to help and who to lock arms with. Herein lies a beloved and compassionate community.
Compassionate San Antonio Website: www.saCompassionNET.org
Reported by Narjis
The Compassionate San Antionio site is rich with ideas that can easily be adopted by other religious, peace, interfaith and Charter city initiatives. Starting with the sale and distribution of the Compassion Beads (the beads start with Compassion and ends with Love: Compassion, Dignity, Equinimity, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Humility, Integrity, Justice, Kindness and Love. Capped off with a golden bead symbolizing the Golden Rule: Treat Others as you wish to be treated yourself. Watch our video about the meaning of Compassion Beads and order from our ETSY Store.); and including information on the Pilgrimage of Compassion: a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.
Radical Joy for Hard Times: www.radicaljoyforhardtimes.org
Radical Joy for Hard Times is a worldwide community of people dedicated to rediscovering meaning and value in those places in our communities that have been damaged by human or natural acts.
By renewing our appreciation for these wounded places, making simple works of art for and in them, and sharing our personal experiences, we rebuild our communities, create beauty out of waste, and empower ourselves to take action on behalf of the place we love.
Our mission is not to protest or to restore broken places to the way they used to be, but to find ways of living in them with compassion, community, creativity, and even joy.
Radical Joy for Hard Times supports communities around the world to produce Earth Exchanges, simple events of revisiting and reconnecting with wounded places. We also offer workshops and conferences to share ideas and experiences.
Religions for Peace: www.religionsforpeace.org
The world’s religious communities cooperate effectively for peace.
Since its founding in 1970, Religions for Peace has been guided by the vision of a world in which religious communities cooperate effectively for peace, by taking concrete common action.
Religions for Peace is committed to leading efforts to advance effective multi-religious cooperation for peace on global, regional, national and local levels while ensuring that the religious communities organized on these same levels assume and exercise appropriate leadership and ownership of these efforts.
Shoulder to Shoulder: www.shouldertoshoulder.org
Shoulder to Shoulder began providing health care services in western Intibucá, Honduras in 1990, six years prior to its official American incorporation. It was established by Dr. Jeff Heck of the University of Cincinnati Family Medicine Department in collaboration with the people of Santa Lucia, Intibucá. Today, Shoulder to Shoulder remains a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization.
United Nations International Day of Peace-September 21: http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
TerKeurst, Lysa. Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions (Harper Collins Publishing, 2012).
In this six-session, small group Bible study DVD, Lysa Terkeurst teaches participants how to process emotions and resolve conflicts in ways that lead to a much more peaceful life. Lysa TerKeurst admits that she, like most women, has experiences where others bump into her 'happy' causing her to come emotionally unglued. What do we often do with our raw emotions? We stuff, we explode, or react somewhere in between. Is it really possible to make emotions work for us instead of against us? Her answer is yes, and in her usual inspiring and practical way, Lysa shows you how. Filled with gut-honest personal examples and Biblical teaching, Unglued will equip you to know with confidence how to - Resolve conflict in your important relationships - Find peace in your most difficult relationships as you learn to be honest but kind when offended- Identify what type of reactor you are and how to significantly improve your communication- Respond with no regrets by managing your tendencies to stuff, explode or react somewhere in between- And how to gain a deep sense of calm by responding to situations out of your control without acting out of control