Honoring our shared symbol with safe water for all
JOIN THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT IN IT'S ANNUAL WALK FOR WATER:
AND HELP PASS THE WATER FOR THE WORLD ACT!
[check out our Home Page for more info]
Photo by Haik Kocharian
Sister Laila Muhammad, daughter of W.D. Muhammad, Chicago
Rabbi Jack Bemporad, Center for Interreligious Understanding, New Jersey
The Rev. Dr. Arnold Isadore Thomas, Minister of Education, The Riverside Church of the City of New York
Three esteemed leaders from the three Abrahamic faiths joined together at the historic Riverside Church in New York City to call on the faiths to unite around this singular symbol share by all, and make water the source of health and life for ALL. Human existence is about much more than water, but never about less. From birth until death, the faiths share this recognition in ritual, symbol, and need. As faith leaders, they stood together in unity around this symbol shared by all faiths, declaring, we are here because together, we are going to launch something powerful.
"...Last year, I called on the intelligence community to conduct a global assessment of the impact water could have and was having on our national security. Today, the National Intelligence Council released the unclassified version of its report on Global Water Security. You can go online, read it for yourself, see how imperative clean water and access to water is to future peace, security, and prosperity, globally. I think its fair to say the intelligence communitys findings are sobering..."
March 22, 2010: FAITH LEADERS GATHER AT THE FIRST U.S. WORLD WATER DAY
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HEADQUARTERS
from left to right:
Imam Syed Rafiq Naqvi, Chairman, Islamic Information Center
Imam Syed Rafiq Naqvi was born in Lucknow, India where he pursued Masters degrees in Psychology, Philosophy and Economics and Islamic Theology and Islamic Jurisprudence, as well as studies in comparative religions. He serves as the Chairman of IIC, Islamic Information Center, founded in 2002, to create a better understanding about Islam among different faiths, government, and the media.
He is Imam of the Jaferia Islamic Center in Burtonsville, Maryland and works on numerous humanitarian projects in the US and other countries iwth the Universal Islamic Foundation and the Imam Financial Corporation. Together with his wife, they also address issues of women's equality.
The Most Reverend Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Armenian Church of America
Born in Siirt, Turkey, Archbishop Aykazian was ordained a bishop in 1992 and in 2007, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians elevated him to the rank of archbishop.
In addition to his current leadership responsibilities in the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Archbishop Aykazian’s diverse professional achievements include Country Director for the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) in their Yerevan, Armenia office (1997-1999) and Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Switzerland (1992-1996).
With a keen interest in the ecumenical movement, in 2005, he was unanimously elected as President of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and he is a member of the Central Committee as well as the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches. In March 2009, Archbishop Aykazian was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Committee on Inter-Religious Affairs.
The Archbishop earned a Ph.D in History from the Armenian Academy of Sciences, completed Ph.D. course requirements at Fribourg Catholic University in Switzerland for a second Ph.D in Theology and continues to work on his doctoral dissertation at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He received a Bachelor of Divinity from Kings College in London, England, studied pastoral theology at St. Augustine’s College in Canterbury, England, and attended the Armenian Theological Seminary in Jerusalem and the Holy Cross Armenian Seminary in Istanbul, Turkey.
He is the 2009 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski is the 9th and current dean of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York. He was elected soon after 9/11 and just before a devastating fire struck the Cathedral. The Cathedral has been undergoing restoration and was rededicated on November 30, 2008.
Dean Kowalski was recruited to ordained ministry by the Rockefeller “Trial Year” Fellowship in 1973, when he graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Since his ordination in 1978, he has also served parishes in Newtown, Hartford, and Darien, Connecticut. He is an inaugural Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. He is member of the Board of Overseers for St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center and a Trustee of Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA.
In 2002, the Dean was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.
Rabbi Jack Bemporad, Executive Director, Center for Interreligious Understanding
Rabbi Bemporad heads the US-based nonprofit Center for Interreligious Understanding (CIU), which promotes open dialogue, mutual respect, and theological understanding of the common foundations shared by the world's religions. He also serves as Professor of Interreligious Studies at the Vatican's Angelicum University in Rome.
Rabbi Bemporad is internationally recognized for his diplomatic skill and leadership in matters of religious understanding and reconciliation. He has had numerous personal audiences with Pope John Paul II and among his extensive work with Vatican leadership, he was the primary writer of the historical Prague Accord (the first time the Vatican asked forgiveness for past acts of anti-Semitism); and worked with Cardinals Willebrands and Cassidy to help secure full diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel. Shortly before Pope John Paul’s death, Rabbi Bemporad and two other Rabbis offered a blessing of the Pope, in recognition of the Holy See’s historic steps to improve relations between Catholics and Jews. Rabbi Bemporad was on hand to greet Pope Benedict on his first Papal visit to Israel.
Bemporad’s work reaches beyond Rome. He helped lead an interfaith delegation to Iran with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then Archbishop of Washington DC, to address religious tolerance with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and other key Iranian leadership. He served as Chairman of the Interreligious Affairs Committee of the Synagogue Council of America, where he has represented Orthodox/Conservative/ Reform rabbinical and lay bodies at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches, the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, and the national and international branches of the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Baptist churches.
He led an historic trip of US Imams to the concentrations camps Auschwitz and Dachau where the Muslims leaders emotionally knelt in prayer; and has been outspoken against Islamophobia in the US and abroad.
Among his many awards for his efforts to foster interreligious understanding, Bemporad received the prestigious Luminosa Award of the Focolare Movement, the Peace and Tolerance Award by the Interfaith Dialog Center (Turkish Muslims), and was honored by the Friends of the Pope John Paul II Foundation.
Fleeing Italy just prior to WWII at the age of 5, Bemporad has dedicated his career to improving relations among Christians, Muslims, and Jews worldwide.