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Henry Ford Community College hosts conference on religion, conflict, and peace, March 23-25


Dearborn: Direct, engaged, and compassionate dialogue is a necessary ingredient for all peaceful relationships to flourish, according to Steve Olweean, director of the Common Bond Institute and coordinator of the 4th Annual International Conference on Religion, Conflict, and Peace (RCP): “Walking the Talk to Compassion and Harmony.”


Henry Ford Community College (HFCC) serves as the host and as one of the sponsors of the RCP Conference, which takes place March 23-25, 2012 in the Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services and Conference Center (ASCC) on the main campus.


Additional sponsors include: the Common Bond Institute, People’s Peace Fund, the International Humanistic Psychology Association and Parashakthi Temple. This conference is supported by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and endorsed by more than 100 international universities and organizations. In addition, this three-day event is an official partner of the Charter for Compassion and the Parliament of World’s Religions.


The RCP Conference, established as an annual event in Michigan since 2009, promotes inter-religious and intra-religious dialogue in an effort to explore the challenges of social paranoia, intolerance, negative stereotyping, scapegoating, racism, hate crimes, Islamophobia, and its effects on all communities. It is designed to raise awareness on how to better understand and appreciate spiritual practice as a means for working toward peace and healing in these challenging times instead of division and polarity.


This year's program includes efforts to address the relationship between rising Islamophobia and rising anti-Semitism, racism, and anti-immigrant / anti-minority sentiments—how targeting and scapegoating one group with negative stereotypes and hate acts increases the same toward other minority groups.


The conference will also explore action plans for communities to work together in educating and sensitizing the public. In addition, “Walking the Talk to Compassion and Harmony” will examine the emotional and psychological distress individuals and groups experience as a result of being targeted, how this affects relationships within and between communities, and how counseling professionals and clergy can work together to alleviate this distress.


Attracting participants from across the United States and other countries, the RCP Conference works to raise public awareness and stimulate proactive efforts at improving relations between and within communities. More than 40 presenters will examine a broad range of challenging questions and dilemmas, as well as explore practical ways to increase understanding and compassion – putting those principles into practice.


Among the speakers and authors is renowned inter-religious scholar Huston Smith. Groups will also be brought in from countries in the Middle East for live two-way participation through video link-ups. The three-day program includes keynotes, breakout workshops, topical panels, daily facilitated dialogue and action planning groups, on-site blogging, evening cultural events, multicultural community, and rich networking for building collaborative action beyond the conference.


“Our goal is to promote the religious experience as a healing remedy rather than problem. To do this, it is important to look within ourselves as well as at other religions. The reality is religious and cultural communities share both common dilemmas and capacity to transform these dilemmas into a shared consciousness of peace, one based on understanding, familiarity, and appreciation, not on fear of the unknown other. We each carry a piece of the problem and a piece of the solution, so engaging each other in compassionate dialogue is not only reasonable, it’s absolutely essential,” said Olweean.


HFCC students can attend for free. For more information and to register, please visit the CBI website at www.cbiworld.org/Pages/Conferences_RCP_Fees.htm or call Steve Olweean at 269-665-9393, or call William Secrest at 313.845.6441.

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Revised: 02/28/12 13:22:22 -0800.





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