February 7, 2013 - World Interfaith Harmony Week
To commemorate the Annual UN sponsored WIHW, the Council of Religious Leaders held an Essay Contest and an Interfaith Breakfast and Forum on February 7 at CTU. Among the participants was Honorable Anita Alvarez, Illinois State's Attorney.
Three High School seniors received the Malala Yousufzai Award for Essay Excellence. The students were Haneefah Cummings from the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago; Arbie Karasek from the Church of the Brethren, and Christine Taylo from the Archdiocese of Chicago. Christine Taylo's essay was recognized as distinguished and read during the breakfast. Their essays can be read by clicking on their names. The three students received iPad-minis, which were generously provided by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
Please see below video clips of the program, as well as the "Different Drummers" show that was presented during the event.
February 14, 2013 - Call to Prayer
The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago is issuing a call for all faith communities to include in their worship special prayers for the victims of gun violence on February 15/17. They held a press conference on February 14 at 10:30am.
For a summary of the press conference as reported by CBS, click here.
For the text of the letter, click here.
November 8, 2012 - Water Fee Exemption for Religious Institutions
At its November 8 meeting, the Council of Religious Leaders voted unanimously to endorse Chicago religious leaders’ request to restore the water fee exemption for religious institutions and programs. For the text of the letter to city government officials, click here.
August 30, 2012 - Jean Claude Brizard, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, meets CRLMC members
Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, met on August 30 with the members of the Council of Religious Leaders.
Mr. Brizard was accompanied by Phillip Hampton, Executive Director of Family and Community Engagement; Rev. Reinaldo Kyles, Director of Faith Based Initiatives and Paula Yates, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff.
President Don Senior introduced the Council to Mr. Brizard, with a brief history of the Council and its involvement in civic issues, collaborating with city and county officials.
Mr. Brizard then introduced himself, his background and education philosophy, as well as the issues that Chicago Public Schools face.
In the discussion that followed, Council members expressed their desire that the initiatives that are already taking place with religious leaders may be inclusive of all the faith traditions present in the city, and that the Council may collaborate more closely with the Chicago Public Schools in helping address the issues that affect public school children, especially the violence.
August 30, 2012 - Sikh Community thanks Council of Religious Leaders
During their August 30 meeting, CRLMC member Dr. Balwant Hansra thanked Council members for their support after the tragic violent attack that left 5 Sikh members dead during their worship service.
On behalf of the Sikh community in the Chicago area, Dr. Hansra declared his gratitude for the many expressions of support received from Council members, in the form of messages and phone calls. Council representatives also attended the vigil prayer held for the victims as well as the press conference.
Dr. Hansra also expressed his support for gun control legislation that may help mitigate some of the violence that is lately been directed to religious places of worship, and that affects the community in so many other ways.
March 22, 2012 - Presentation by the Coptic Christian community on Situation in Egypt
Members of the Coptic Christian community attended the March 22, 2012 meeting of CRLMC to brief the Council on the present situation concerning the Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Father Pavlos Fahmy, Priest of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge, IL, introduced the program by giving a brief biography of Pope Shenouda III.
Atef Moawad, MD, Professor Emeritus at University of Chicago, and head deacon at St. Mark’s Coptic Church, followed with a detailed presentation on the current situation of the Coptic Christians in Egypt. The Coptic Church has a very long history, established by the Apostle Saint Mark. Monasticism was also born, with hundreds of monasteries established in the Egyptian desert. Christians have always been a significant religious presence in Egypt; today, however, they are experiencing violence and opposition from some radical groups. Dr. Moawad’s address included statistics, photos and video clips concerning the situation. He provided several suggestions to Council members on how might help , including prayer and fasting; contributions to appropriate relief organizations; and the need to bring the plight of Egyptian Christians to the attention of government officials.
President Donald Senior, C.P. thanked the guests for attending and expressed the Council’s desire to work together with the Coptic Christian community.
March 15, 2012 - Dr. Zaher Sahloul addresses Council of Religious Leaders on the Situation in Syria
Dr. Zaher Sahloul, president of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), president of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Metropolitan Chicago (CIOGC) and a member of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago addressed the Council’s Executive Committee meeting on March 15 about the situation in Syria.
He spoke about the country's rich history of religious and racial diversity and the current political and economic situation. He also talked about the staggering humanitarian crisis generated by the conflict for those both within the country and for those who have fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries. He stressed that, no matter what political opinion one might have, that response to alleviating the terrible human toll was the responsibility of the international community and the various religious communities.
In the dialogue that followed, Committee members wrestled with the humanitarian issues as well as the possible consequences of supporting one side of the conflict or the other, especially since many of the country's ethnic and religious minorities perceive themselves as being protected by the current regime. Nevertheless, regardless of the social and political dilemmas, we are challenged to find ways to respond to the growing humanitarian needs in this and other troubled places. We begin by joining in prayer with all peoples of good will.
For more information on Dr. Zaher Sahloul or to contact him, please visit WWW.SAMS-USA.NET.
March 13, 2012 - Council of Religious Leaders writes to DuPage County Board on MECCA
Rev. Paul Rutgers, Co-Executive Director of the Council of Religious Leaders, wrote to the DuPage County Board expressing the Council’s dismay at the challenges that the construction of MECCA is facing since their petition failed. MECCA and other faith communities will need to decide on their future course of action. Rev. Larry Ulrich, representing the Council of Religious Leaders, presented the letter at the March 13 DuPage County meeting. The letter stressed the Council’s defense of the free expression of religions as a precious right in our nation. For a full copy of the letter, click here.