An Interfaith Approach to Justice work
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From Alison Van Dyk and the Board of Trustees

This December, we had the honor of a visit from one of our Hollister Honorees, Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. Plans for collaboration on her work with the Temple of Understanding and others in 2020 are in progress.  

Grove Harris, Ela Gandhi (granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi), Alison Van Dyk, and John Miller, NYC, December, 2019

This has been a challenging year with hurricanes, wildfires and unnatural floods occurring around the world.  The latest UN report on climate change has given us a short timetable to initiate major changes, but in the US, the government has rolled back regulations on major oil, gas and big agriculture companies.  We are not keeping communities safe from polluted land, air and water.

It is no wonder that the next generation has cried out for a halt of the destruction of the earth. The Temple of Understanding has been a trailblazer in interfaith climate justice and for our 60th Anniversary, we are bringing together interfaith leaders, scientists, environmentalists and youth in October for Forum2020 in New York City.  Together we have the power to make change happen. 

Looking back over the past year, we have worked with colleagues on local, national and international levels towards a sustainable future. 

Our interns continue to impress us with their vision and enthusiasm. In 2019 we assisted 18 year old Tselmeg Ulammandakh from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in delivering a response to her country's voluntary national review of progress and obstacles towards achieving the SDGs. Mongolia's presentation reported on the major problem of air pollution and the systemic analysis and framework needed to address it.  This model can then be used for other challenges the country faces, and was a substantive contribution on how to well utilize their international reporting on country affairs.  Afterwards, Mongolia's Minister of Finance came over to speak with her!  You can help us reach new intern candidates by forwarding the announcement of this year's application.

We have completed a renovation of our website, which is now optimized for cell phones, to better serve the many generations of people who depend on them for access to the internet.

We support our many colleagues working for the environment from interfaith perspectives, including GreenFaith who are supporting the Green New Deal and are motivating faith-based activism with online resources.

We are enjoying working locally, in Massachusetts on Cape Cod and the Islands, where we can share resources and support colleagues in the Faith Communities Environmental Network, part of the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative working on pathways to Net Zero.  Right now, the vulnerability of the Cape and Islands, along with the world-class oceanographic institutes on the Cape, position us for a leadership role in driving local change out of inspiration and necessity.  Our hope is that this leadership inspires the state, and the nation, to concrete locally-driven innovations for our future. 

We are looking forward to 2020 as we participate in "UN Women's Generation Equality Campaign to accelerate gender equality actions and mark the 25th anniversary of the  Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,  the most visionary agenda for women's rights and empowerment everywhere."  I was honored to attended the historic Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China with Sister Joan Kirby in 1995.  We will be hosting a forum at this year's UN Women's Commission on the Status of Women featuring the "Voices of Youth on How Far We Need to Go."  If you are in NYC on March 12, 2020 we invite you to attend. 

And please save the dates of October 16 and 17, 2020. We, in collaboration with Marble Collegiate Church, invite you to join us for Forum2020 & our 60th Anniversary Interfaith Prayer Service.  This will be a unique opportunity for diverse spiritual and scientific collaboration addressing the urgency of the climate crisis with strategic and inspired collective action, followed the next day by an Interfaith Service dedicated to music and prayers for our sacred Earth.

Peace be with you all,


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