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CHAIRMAN OF MILLENNIUM WORLD PEACE SUMMIT ANNOUNCES CREATION OF WORLD COUNCIL OF RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL LEADERS

New York–[October 29, 2001]– David Finn, Chairman of the Millennium World Peace Summit, announced today the successful completion of the first step in creating a World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders that will work in conjunction with the United Nations in its efforts to address the most pressing world problems. Mr. Finn said, “The creation of the World Council is a major step forward in bringing the leaders of the world religions together around the common values that are integral to all religions.”

The Steering Committee Meeting for the development of the World Council was held October 21-24 at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in New York. As was graphically illustrated by the events of September 11th, it is critical to develop a forum in which the religious leaders from all faith traditions and the indigenous peoples can work together and have the opportunity to add their wisdom to the peacemaking and peace-keeping labors of the United Nations, nation states, and international organizations.

Thirty religious and spiritual leaders from many different countries attended this initial gathering, including the Reverend Joan Campbell, Director of the Department of Religion of Chautauqua Institution; H.E. Archbishop Theorcharous, the Archbishop of Thyateria and Great Britain; Chief Oren Lyons of the Onandoga Nation; Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation; Master Sheng-yen of the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association; Brothers Achelananda and Satyananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship; Mr. Abdullah Al Noshan, UN and Washington Representative to the Muslim World League; Ms. Dudu Chili of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee of South Africa; Rector Phra Thepsophon of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Bangkok; Ms. Ella Cisneros of the Together Foundation; Mr. Amir Al-Islam, professor of Islamic Studies; Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, Earth Charter Commissioner; Swami Dyananda Saraswati of the All India Movement; and Reverend C.T. Vivian, a Baptist minister who worked with Martin Luther King.

Discussion at the meetings focused on how such a body would be formed, how it could function in times of crisis and how it could address the underlying issues that lead to violence. The participants agreed to select co-chairs from every major religion for the World Council within the next few weeks, to put in place the members of the Council over the upcoming months and to hold the first full meeting at the beginning of May in Bangkok, Thailand. Mr. Bawa Jain, Secretary-General of the Millennium World Peace Summit, said, “This initiative has taken a year of intensive dialogue with religious leaders to reach a common understanding on how this council could be of benefit to the world. I am grateful to those who have helped this Council start to take shape.”

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