SDA Church doing Political Business on Sabbath in SDA church

Columbia Union VISITOR, September 1, 2000


Conference on World Religions and Peace Convenes


Several scholars from different religions will present their views on how religious leaders and organizations can contribute to world peace at the Second Annual Conference of the Washington Conference on World Religions and Peace (WASCOWRAP). It will be held Sabbath, October 7, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church located at the corner of Flower and Carroll Avenues in Takoma Park, Maryland.

The conference is being held in support of the United Nation's declaration of the year 2000 as the "International Year for the Culture of Peace" issued on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The free conference will include a panel discussion, presentation of papers, special music presentations, and refreshments. Papers will give perspectives of what major world religions teach about peace and harmony in the new millennium.

"The purpose of the conference is to bring together religious leaders and get them to sign a declaration, to urge all faiths to bury ancient enmities and cooperate in resolving world conflicts," says Elisha Pulivarti, founder and secretary of WASCOWRAP and the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) leader of Southern Asia Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. "Our dream is to get the top world religious leaders for the next conference in 2001 to discuss their role in bringing about world peace and ask them to sign a common declaration pledging their commitment to reduce religious tensions. We also hope to establish a council of Senior Clerics."

Pulivarti is the visionary and founder of the two-year old organization. Presently a Bank of America manager, he attended Spicer Memorial College in India and continued his education in Norway. As he traveled, he was fascinated by people of various cultures and religions and started asking questions of them. He became more curious about the ways in which religions were different--and alike. He noticed that though all said they were seeking peace, several world conflicts arose because of religion.

"We seek to answer the questions: How can we avoid religious conflicts? What are some of the ways and means to avoid and resolve religious conflicts? How can religious leaders play a role in bringing peace and harmony among the various religions of the world?" explains Pulivarti.

So far Pulivarti has received positive responses from several individuals and organizations interested in attending the conference or finding out more about the organization. "I have heard from Muslim communities in Florida, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, African American Women's Clergy Association, Catholic University School of Religious Studies, Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Albert Wynn, White House Public Liaison Officer Maureen Shea, the Council on Religious Freedom, and the Archbishop of Washington."

"Since its founding in 1632, the State of Maryland has welcomed settlers of all faiths. The exchange of ideas with representatives of the communities of faith and the political realm, which will take place at the Second Annual Conference on World Religions and Peace in Takoma Park, will deepen our understanding and appreciation of the rich tapestry of faiths that exist in our State," said state Senator Jean Roesser of the 15th Legislative District for Montgomery County at a press conference announcing the event.

The press conference was held on Monday, July 17, in the Montgomery County Council conference room in Rockville, Maryland. News about the press conference was carried on Washington metropolitan area cable TV channels 8 and 21 and on American University radio station, WAMU 88.5 FM. Pulivarti is Faith, Peace, Harmony 2000 planning for more press conferences as the date approaches.

Other members of the Adventist Church will also figure prominently in the conference. Franklin David, senior pastor of the Southern Asian Church serves as cochair of the conference. William Johnsson, executive publisher and editor of the Adventist Review, will serve as moderator of the panel discussion. Bert Beach, retired PARL director, who now serves as director of interchurch relations for the General Conference, will be a featured speaker. Ted N. C. Wilson, general vice president of the General Conference serves as a consultant to WASCOWRAP.

Other speakers include Kalpana Patel, who is actively involved in the Shri Mangal Mandir, a Hindu temple in Ashton, Maryland; Imam Shamshad Nasir, a missionary from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; Bhante K. Uparatana, a monk and president of the International Buddhist Center and Buddhist chaplain of American University in Washington, D.C.; Amrit Kaur Singh, a member of the Guru Nanak Foundation of America and the Sikh temple in Silver Spring, Maryland; Michael Subin, president of the Montgomery County Council; and Senator Roesser.

U.S. Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett, Jr., of Maryland's Sixth District serves as the chairman of WASCOWRAP and John Graz, secretary general of the International Religious Liberty Association and director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the General Conference, co-chairs the organization.