National Council of Churches reaching out to Hindus and Buddhists.

New York. August 10, 2017: The National Council of Churches to begin a new dialogue with the Hindus and Buddhists in the United States as part of her inter religious dialogue. It is a new chapter in the history of interfaith initiative by NCC and and evidence of accepting Hinduism and Buddhism in the mainstream of American religious pluralism, said Father Joseph Varghese, who is a member of the Interreligious Convening Table of the National Council of Churches and involved in these dialogues.

The National Council of Churches (www.nationalcouncilofchurches.us) has long been involved in interfaith dialogue. Its national Jewish-Christian Dialogue has been meeting for decades, and it has seen renewed vigor since moving away from Mideast concerns to focus on pastoral issues. Its Muslim-Christian Dialogue has likewise been meeting for decades, though it intensified post-9/11 as it turned its attention to matters of Islamophobia and related concerns. The NCC has also been a leading voice within multi-faith organizations and coalitions.

The Guibord Center (www.theguibordcenter.org) is a premier interfaith organization in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2010, its mission is to “bring people together to challenge assumptions, unleash the Holy, and affirm the faith that transforms the world.” Through this joint initiative, The Guibord Center will continue to build and extend bridges of friendship between communities of faith.
The two new dialogues will be co-coordinated by the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, The Guibord Center’s founder and president, and Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, an associate general secretary of the NCC, along with co-conveners from the Buddhist and Hindu communities as well as from among Christian participants of the NCC’s Convening Table for Interreligious Relations and Collaboration. With regard to the latter, Christian co-conveners will be Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kuan of the United Methodist Church (Buddhist dialogue) and Dr. Jesudas Athyal of the Mar Thoma Church (Hindu dialogue).
“The Guibord Center welcomes the opportunity to partner with the NCC in creating new dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu communities, recognizing that it is often these structures that offer hope and guidance during times of tension and unrest,” said Dr. Guibord.
The directions of the two new dialogues will be set by the participants, though it is envisioned that they will include theological matters as well as issues pertaining to conflict and peace. Introductory meetings with Buddhist and Hindu leaders in the western United States will take place in the coming months with the intention of beginning the dialogues in late 2017 or early 2018.

( Father Joseph Varghese is the Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Freedom and Tolerance, IRFT and a member of National Council of Churches' Inter Religious Convening Table.)


Father Joseph Varghese (•The Syrian Orthodox Church. Malankara Archdiocese of North America. •Member: Inter-Religious Commission: National Council of Churches. •Executive Director: Institute for Religious Freedom and Tolerance(IRFT), New York. •Member: U.S. Consultation of The Oriental Orthodox - Roman Catholic Churches. •Delegate: Standing Conference on Oriental Orthodox Churches( SCOOCH).)

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