Wisdom Newsletter | Focus on USA, Current Pain, Remembered Joy

In this Newsletter:
1. Leaders respond to Muslim Immigration Restrictions
2. Church of Latter Day Saints Hosts Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders
3. Elijah leaders participate in Parliament on Spirituality
4. Prayers for Aleppo
5. Scholar to Street

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1. Leaders respond to Muslim Immigration Restrictions

Some members of the Elijah Board and Academy have responded to the recent restrictions on Muslim immigration into the USA. Please see here for their comments and feel free to respond to admin@elijah-interfaith.org.

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2. Church of Latter Day Saints Hosts Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders

Music is a universal language which transcends religious difference and has always been important to Elijah. Our prayer gatherings, in which people pray according to their own traditions, finish with participants from all faiths sharing a melody. Summer schools include opportunities to hear religious music in performance and as part of prayer.

Members of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders were honoured to be invited to be in the audience for the November 13th 2016 broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, prior to the opening of their 7th meeting.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a renowned 360-member chorus of men and women, all volunteers. Its weekly program, Music and the Spoken has been a phenomenon since it began broadcasting in 1929, making it the longest continuous broadcast on the air. The Elijah leaders and scholars received a warm welcome before enjoying a program which included Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Glory” and the Gaelic melody “Morning Has Broken.” John Rutter’s “Home Is a Special Kind of Feeling,” was selected to support the Spoken Word segment of the program, which focused on the theme of Parenting, described as “the Best Job in the World.” Click here to see the soon to be available video.

Another moving part of our visit in Salt Lake City was the visit to Welfare Square, run by the LDS Church, which is the standard bearer of the idea of a “bishop’s storehouse” and more. A bishop’s storehouse refers to a commodity resource center that is used by bishops (lay leaders of local congregations analogous to pastors or parish priests in other Christian denominations) of the church to provide goods to needy individuals. The concept of the bishop’s storehouse is based on a revelation received by Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, on February 9, 1831, whereby he was instructed to keep goods “in my [the Lord’s] storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy”

The LDS describes the site as follows: “Since its humble beginnings in the midst of the Great Depression, Welfare Square has emerged as a powerful example of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does throughout the world to care for the poor, foster self-reliance, and provide meaningful opportunities for work and service. Welfare Square is a modern facility composed of a towering, 178-foot-tall grain elevator, a large storehouse, a bakery, a cannery, a milk-processing operation, a thrift store, and an employment center—all designed to help people help themselves.”

The final visit to LDS institutions was the Humanitarian Center, which was created on the basis of the passage in the Christian Bible: “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Matthew 25:35-36

The Humanitarian Center was established in 1991 to prepare humanitarian supplies for use worldwide and train those desiring to develop employable skills to become self-reliant. It is the centre of global operations. We learnt from a moving video about the work of the Centre that wherever possible, humanitarian supplies are acquired in or near the area where they are needed to avoid shipping expenses. In some cases, supplies are shipped from Salt Lake City and we were impressed by the huge quantities of donated goods being sorted for distribution. In a typical year, the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center will ship about 8 million pounds of shoes and clothing, 300,000 hygiene and school kits, and 12,000 quilts to relieve suffering in more than 50 countries.

Much of the work at the centre is undertaken by women as part of the “I Was a Stranger” initiative, responding to the First Presidency’s October 2015 letter that invited church members to participate in local refugee relief projects, where practical.

At any given time, approximately 200 individuals – mostly refugees and immigrants – are being trained at the center to join the workforce and become self-reliant. These associates represent as many as 30 countries and 20 different languages and many attend English classes during their training. Associates are assigned a job coach who teaches work skills and emphasizes the importance of attendance, punctuality, personal hygiene, and other basic life skills.

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3. Elijah leaders participate in Parliament on Spirituality

A representative team of Elijah leaders from different faiths shared the core messages of Elijah – Friendship across religions, the importance of sharing wisdom and the discovery of unity in diversity, to attendees of the second parliament on spirituality, that took place after Elijah leaders concluded their meeting. The following video captures the friendship and wisdom of Elijah leaders. It demonstrates how close friendship and partnership, over the course of many years, build a unique bond between leaders of different faiths. This testimony was moving to the audience and remains an ongoing message and invitation of Elijah to religious leaders and communities worldwide. Click on the image below to watch the video.

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4. Prayers for Aleppo

Several weeks ago we issued a request for prayers for Syrian citizens in Aleppo. We did not imagine at the time that close to a thousand nuns in over a dozen countries would respond to the call and integrate it into their prayers. We did not imagine that Jewish religious leaders would incorporate this into their synagogue routines. In fact, we did not recognize how much our readers care, and how closely our readers are following us. We realize we need to know more about how our messages and requests are being received, so we can plan better for the future. In this spirit, we’d be grateful if you could share with us if and how you have responded to the call to prayer for Aleppo. Kindly let us know by dropping us a line at admin@elijah-interfaith.org

(photo by AFP)

(photo by AFP)

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5. Scholar to Street

One of the main points under consideration in Salt Lake City meeting was the move from “Scholar to Street”, bringing Elijah’s leaders’ and scholars’ message to religious communities. We are presently planning a learning initiative online, that will allow Elijah leaders to share with communities and will also allow communities to share and engage among themselves, in response and dialogue. We would be grateful to have indications of interest by study groups, interfaith councils, university courses and other friends of Elijah. If you would be so kind as to let us know of your potential interest, we will try to follow up and include you in our planning for “learning with Elijah”. Please send your responses to admin@elijah-interfaith.org

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