The National Council of Churches USA and The Guibord Center – Religion Inside Out are pleased to announce their intention to explore the formation of a new Buddhist-Christian Dialogue and a new Hindu-Christian Dialogue. These dialogues, both national in scope, will be concentrated primarily on the west coast.
The National Council of Churches (www.nationalcouncilofchurches.us) has long been involved in interfaith dialogue. Its national Jewish-Christian Dialogue has been meeting for decades, and it has seen renewed vigor since moving away from Mideast concerns to focus on pastoral issues. Its Muslim-Christian Dialogue has likewise been meeting for decades, though it intensified post-9/11 as it turned its attention to matters of Islamophobia and related concerns. The NCC has also been a leading voice within multi-faith organizations and coalitions.
The Guibord Center (www.theguibordcenter.org) is a premier interfaith organization in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2010, its mission is to “bring people together to challenge assumptions, unleash the Holy, and affirm the faith that transforms the world.” Through this joint initiative, The Guibord Center will continue to build and extend bridges of friendship between communities of faith.
The two new dialogues will be co-coordinated by the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, The Guibord Center’s founder and president, and Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, an associate general secretary of the NCC, along with co-conveners from the Buddhist and Hindu communities as well as from among Christian participants of the NCC’s Convening Table for Interreligious Relations and Collaboration. With regard to the latter, Christian co-conveners will be Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kuan of the United Methodist Church (Buddhist dialogue) and Dr. Jesudas Athyal of the Mar Thoma Church (Hindu dialogue).
“The Guibord Center welcomes the opportunity to partner with the NCC in creating new dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu communities, recognizing that it is often these structures that offer hope and guidance during times of tension and unrest,” said Dr. Guibord.
Dr. Kireopoulos echoed this sentiment, stating: “The NCC is looking forward to working with The Guibord Center on these dialogues, and to being in conversation with Buddhist and Hindu partner organizations as we begin moving forward together. Especially for our member churches that interact closely with Buddhist and Hindu communities, either because of where they are rooted or because of a history of mission in various related contexts, these dialogues will be particularly important.”
The directions of the two new dialogues will be set by the participants, though it is envisioned that they will include theological matters as well as issues pertaining to conflict and peace. Introductory meetings with Buddhist and Hindu leaders in the western United States will take place in the coming months with the intention of beginning the dialogues in late 2017 or early 2018.