John Ishvaradas Abdallah is a speaker, writer and author of ‘A Sufi’s Ruminations On One World Under God.’ John Ishvaradas Abdallah (meaning ‘servant of God’ in four – Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Muslim – and by extension all faith traditions!) is the preferred pen-name of Syed Riyaz Mahdi. An independent activist Sufi, he is the Founder and Executive Director of (the Sufi Order) World Without Borders Interfaith Sufi Ashram (also a Facebook group), and is passionately involved in interfaith dialogue, conversation and movement promoting a theology of love, peace and freedom through active nonviolence.
Currently, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group (CMCG), Los Angeles, a member of the Board of Advisors of The Guibord Center in Los Angeles, a member of the Board of Advisors of the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of World’s Religions (SCCPWR), a past president and current member of the Board of Advisors of the South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC), and a member of the Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) and an Advisory Board member of its Los Angeles Chapter (MPV-LA).
At various times in the past he has been actively involved in the Alliance for Spiritual Community (a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative – URI), the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) – a Tikkun organization, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP) in Los Angeles, International South Asia Forum (INSAF), South Asian Network (SAN), Coalition for an Egalitarian and Pluralistic India (CEPI), member of the Board of Advisors of Kochi (Kerala, India) based World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils (WFIRC), and a member of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim Leadership Forum, Long Beach, California.
He has been an active participant in the Inaugural Conference of the Ahimsa (Nonviolence) Center at the California State University, Pomona, Abrahamic Religions Tolerance Seminar in Mission Viejo, California, Religious Diversity Faire in Irvine, California, Pre-Parliament Events in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and New Delhi, in the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City (2015), Melbourne (2009) and Barcelona (2004), Interfaith Conferences for Peace and Harmony at the Guru Nanak Dev University (named after the founder of Sikh community) in Amritsar, Hindu University in Varanasi, Catholic Christian Renewal Center in Kochi, World Social Forum in Bombay, North American Interfaith Network’s NAIN Connect 2014 Conference in Detroit, World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Summit 2014 in Seoul, South Korea, and Interfaith gatherings in Seattle, Chicago, London, Hyderabad (India) and other cities.
Born in Hyderabad, India, in a Muslim family, he grew up with Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Zoroastrian neighbors and friends of the family. John is a Naturalized Bicentennial US citizen and has lived in the United States of America since 1964. Thankful and very pleased father of a son and a daughter, he has lived in Southern California since 1975 with his loving Japanese (and Japan-born) wife who has a rare gift of understanding.
The Very Rev. Daniel G. Ade is a Dean of St. John’s Cathedral in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He has served on the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Diocese and was central in inviting The Guibord Center to St. John’s, as part of the cathedral’s mission as a house of prayer for all people. He has been a priest since 1992 and has served congregations in New York and Los Angeles.
A native New Yorker, Dan is a graduate of the General Seminary in Manhattan and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association there and has served on several boards and commissions in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
One of the first theologians to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics. Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Judaism and Gender at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles. Adler was one of the first theologians to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics.
In 1971, she published an article entitled “The Jew Who Wasn’t There: Halacha and the Jewish Woman,” in Davka magazine. This article was considered by historian Paula Hyman as one of the founding influences of the Jewish feminist movement.
In 1983, she published an essay in Moment entitled “I’ve Had Nothing Yet, So I Can’t Take More,” in which she criticized rabbinic tradition for making women “a focus of the sacred rather than active participants in its processes,” and declared that being a Jewish woman “is very much like being Alice at the Hatter’s tea party. We did not participate in making the rules, nor were we there at the beginning of the party.”
In 1992, she began a women’s Talmud class in her home, teaching the text (in its original Hebrew and Aramaic. This created the first rigorous Talmud study opportunity for lay women outside of New York and Israel.
Adler received a PhD in Religion from the University of Southern California in 1997; her doctoral dissertation was titled “Justice and Peace Have Kissed: A Feminist Theology of Judaism.” She is the author of many articles that have appeared in Blackwell’s Companion to Feminist Philosophy, Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days, Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought, Lifecycles, The Jewish Condition, and On Being a Jewish Feminist.
She was awarded the 2000 Tuttleman Foundation Book Award of Gratz College and the 1999 National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought by the Jewish Book Council for her book Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics; this was the first time the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought was ever awarded to a female theologian.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Adler. Retrieved 10/15/16
A Muslim scholar who currently teaches Judaism and Islam at Antioch University, Los Angeles, Dr. Mehnaz Afridi has taught at Loyola Marymount University and served as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College. Her deep interest in Judaism and Modern Jewish Diaspora has led her to be invited to speak at numerous interfaith conferences both in the United States and abroad.
Fr. John Bakas immigrated with his family to the United States from Greece in 1958. The family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico and worked in restaurant related businesses.
Ordained to Deaconate, March 7, 1975
Ordained to The Priesthood, January 21, 1979
Fr. Bakas is the Dean of Saint Sophia Cathedral and Greek Orthodox Community of Los Angeles since 1995. Along with the talented leadership of the Cathedral, he spearheaded the drive for the major renovation of the Cathedral grounds and adjacent buildings. This renovation and renewal had spawned the redevelopment of the surrounding area into what is now the Byzantine-Latino Quarter of Los Angeles. He is Founder of the Diocesan Camp AGAPE, “Kids ‘n Cancer” program for needy children suffering with cancer. Camp AGAPE offers summer camping programs in Fresno, California; Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.
He has worked as an administrator at the University of New Mexico and at California State University Stanislaus. At the University of New Mexico he taught in the Latin American Affairs Department and served as Assistant Dean of Admissions. He is tri-lingual. In addition to English he speaks, Greek and Spanish.
Father Bakas has served as Chaplain and President of the Valley Children’s Hospital Foundation in Fresno. At the Children’s Hospital he led the fundraising drive to build a new 170 million-dollar facility, now in operation as the nation’s state of the art, premier children’s hospital. He currently also teaches Greek Orthodox Theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
In addition, Father Bakas is:
Founder, Camp Axios camping program for Los Angeles inner city at risk youth
Founder, Rotary House Children’s Hospice in Fresno, CA
Founder, Project Nino-Mexico offering free medical care for poor children in Mexico through Rotary International
Founder of the Rotary Greek Amphitheater in Fresno. It is a 2,500 seat outdoor theater and built as a mini Epidauros of ancient Greece.
Founder, Byzantine-Latino Quarter Neighborhood & Redevelopment Program in Los Angeles
Co-Chairman of the Police-Clergy Forum of the Los Angeles Police Department
Serves as Commissioner of the Los Angeles Commission on Children, Youth and Families
Father Bakas’ educational background includes:
4 year training with Archdiocesan Program/Priest with Lay Profession supervised by The Holy Cross Seminary
M.A. Philosophy, University of New Mexico
Master of Theology, Loyola Marymount University
Father Bakas is married to Presbytera Maria and has four adult children; three daughters and a son.
Father Bakas has served as consultant for the Orthodox perspective on Steven Spielberg’s production, Prince of Egypt and Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of the Christ.
Father Bakas has appeared as an on-air commentator for the A&E production of Christianity, The First Thousand Years and Banned from the Bible.
He was featured on the PBS program “Visiting…with Huell Howser”. The video tour has become a favorite on area Public Television and generated daily tours to the Cathedral.
He belongs to the California Civil War Re-Enactors Society where he takes on the role (in full uniform) of General Ulysses S. Grant.
He was a tenor for the Albuquerque Light Opera.
2004 University of Southern California (USC) Baccalaureate speaker.
Ryan Bell has been a pastor for 16 years, most recently the senior pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church where he has served since June 2005. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
Ryan is active in several interfaith groups including the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative and the Interreligious Council of Southern California, for which he served as Treasurer. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several books, including The Peacemaking Remnant and most recently, Viral Hope: Good News from the Urbs to the Burbs.
Recently Ryan began an experiment called “A Year without God” which concluded with relinquishing his position with the church.
Rev. Angie Buchanan is the senior minister of Earth Traditions, a Pagan church, and an instructor in its Pagan Ministry Training program. She is the spiritual director of Gaia’s Womb, a women’s interfaith spirituality group she helped found in 1998. She developed and teaches a certificated class in death midwifery, which provides hands-on, intensive training in providing compassionate end-of-life care, and information about ecologically sensitive funerals and burials. She also is the religious advisor for Pagan students at the University of Chicago.
A lifelong advocate of religious freedom, Rev. Buchanan consults with schools, religious and interreligious groups, and law-enforcement and government agencies to educate and promote understanding of and dialogue among the world’s religions. She taught “Introduction to Interfaith” at Cherry Hill Seminary from 2004 to 2007. In 2006, she played an integral role in persuading the U.S. military to permit the pentacle to be engraved on the government-issued grave markers for Pagan and Wiccan veterans.
Rev. Buchanan is the first Pagan to have served on the Board of Trustees for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the oldest and largest interfaith organization in the world.
Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture.
She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of nine books, including Grounded: Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution (HarperOne, 2015) and the widely influential Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne, 2012). Her other books include A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (HarperOne, 2009), nominated for a Library of Virginia literary award, and the best-selling Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (2006) which was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and was featured in a cover story in USA TODAY.
Diana regularly speaks at conferences, consults with religious organizations, leads educational events for religious leaders, and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues. She writes at The Huffington Post and The Washington Post and comments on religion, politics, and culture in the media including USA TODAY, Time, Newsweek, CBS, CNN, FOX, PBS, and NPR.
From 1995 to 2000, she wrote a weekly column on American religion for the New York Times Syndicate. She is a contributing editor for Sojourners Magazine has written widely in the religious press, including Christian Century, Clergy Journal, and Congregations.
From 2002 to 2006, she was the Project Director of a national Lilly Endowment-funded study of mainline Protestant vitality—a project featured in Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and the Los Angeles Times.
Dr. Butler Bass is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from The General Theological Seminary in New York. She also serves on the board of Public Religion Research and is an advisor on the project for a National Museum of American Religion in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, Dr. Butler Bass has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and the Virginia Theological Seminary in subjects ranging from church history, American religious history, history of Christian thought, to religion and politics, religion and race, and congregational studies.
She and her family live in Alexandria, Virginia.
Steven Charleston has served as the National Director for Native American Ministries in the Episcopal Church, the Bishop of Alaska, President and Dean of Episcopal Divinity School, and currently is Visiting Professor of Native American Theology at the Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University.
A citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Steven comes from a family with a long history of service in the Native American Community. His great-grandfather and grandfather were both ordained pastors who preached in their native language throughout the state. Following in their footsteps, Steven was ordained at Wakpala, South Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Steven is internationally known as an advocate for the rights of indigenous people, for spiritual renewal and reconciliation, and for environmental justice.
His daily meditations, posted on Facebook, have attracted a following from all over the world, numbering in the thousands. He has created a community across all lines of difference, uniting people in a shared witness to common hope and a faith that is transforming our world.
Noor-Makila Chishti has been involved with interfaith for over 40 years. Her early training in a Sufi tradition that honors the diverse ways in which people approach spiritual practice laid the ground for her work. Almost 20 years ago she converted to Islam when she began exploring the Islamic roots of Sufism.
Today, she serves as Vice President of ReGeneration, an interfaith non-profit seeding the Middle East with an educational philosophy that embraces life, learning, the arts, the earth and all the children. Noor-Malika is a Founding member and Event Co-Chair of the Southern California Muslim-Jewish Forum, an umbrella body focused on strengthening Muslim-Jewish ties in Greater Los Angeles.
She is a Founding member and Vice Chair Emeritus of the Southern California Committee for the Parliament of World Religions. At the 2009 Parliament of World Religions held in Melbourne, Australia, she presented in three workshops: “Listening with a Heart of Mercy,” “Listening to the Other: Building a House of Prayer for Christians, Jews, and Muslims,” and “Spiritual Intimacy: Taking Interfaith Engagement to the Next Level.” Noor-Malika also was on a panel and workshop at the Globalization for the Common Good conference held in 2010 at California Lutheran University, also on the theme of spiritual intimacy in interfaith engagement.
R. Scott Colglazier is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. The church shares a thriving campus with Pilgrim School, the most diverse private school in the state of California. He has served a number of churches throughout his career, most notably University Christian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, one of the largest churches in the country, and the famed Riverside Church of New York City.
He is the author of several books, his most recent is A Dictionary of Faith: For Open-Hearted, Open-Minded People. He is also author of the popular spirituality blog Take a Breath.
Dr. Colglazier has been the featured speaker at many of the nation’s great churches, and highlighted on CNN, The Today Show, CBS Morning Show, The Advocate, as well as in The New York Times. He is an outstanding leader of small groups, and recently led an extraordinary retreat in Tuscany titled: Rediscovering the Fire of Everyday Life.
Dr. Colglazier is especially interested in the relationship between religious faith and the larger cultural life of Americans. He is known as a progressive, optimistic, and healing person of faith, and uses a breadth of resources, including art, poetry, photography, music, film, psychology and Interfaith awareness to inspire and challenge people.
Throughout his career, Dr. Colglazier has served many boards and community organizations, including Boards of Trustees at Texas Christian University, Brite Divinity School, Christian Theological Seminary, and is the first Christian clergyperson to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum. He has also served local chapters of Habitat for Humanity and Planned Parenthood. Beyond his graduate degrees from Christian Theological Seminary, Dr. Colglazier has spent extensive time at the Esalen Institute and Tassajara Zen Center.
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels is the heart of Beth Shir Shalom. He brings his passionate expression of Judaism and his strong sense of social justice to the pulpit. He helps us create our Jewish community, facilitates our discovery of our spiritual selves and works with us towards Tikkun Olam – healing the world. Rabbi Neil’s accessibility makes him responsive to our congregants. He uses his singing and musical talents to communicate the riches of our Jewish tradition. Through his contemporary interpretation of ancient and modern texts he enables us to personalize and apply them to our daily lives.
Beth Shir Shalom supports the Rabbi’s personal commitment to organizations that deal with interracial and interfaith relations and homelessness issues. He has chaired the Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition and the Interfaith Holocaust Service. He is a founding member of CLUE (Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice). A graduate of UCLA, Rabbi Comess-Daniels was ordained in 1979 at the Hebrew Union College and is often asked to mentor young rabbinic students. He was the founding rabbi of Temple Shir Shalom, one of the two temples that have come together to become Beth Shir Shalom. He recently published “I Miss You” a book of poems, prayers, songs and gentle guidance for adults helping the grieving child. He is married and has two children. Rabbi Neil expresses his spirituality in many ways, especially through music. Besides the liturgical settings he creates for Jewish prayer, he also composes for all peoples and spiritualities. His recent releases include an album for children titled “On This Day and All the Time” (available at http://www.neilsongs.com), and two pieces appear on the album “We’ll Paint You a Rainbow” benefitting Save the Children and HEARTbeats Foundation (available at http://www.HEARTbeatsforchildren.com)
Sura Das has been working with Interfaith and representing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness for the last 12 years. He is currently the V.P. of the Culver City Interfaith, the V.P. of the Interreligious Council of Southern California, a part of the Hindu-Episcopal Dialogues, and involved with the local Parliament of Religion. He is one of the head Priests for ISKCON and works in Management for the ISKCON Publishing House the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
In 1999 he started the Temple Bhajan Band and they have been playing kirtan music and mantra chanting at Yoga Studios, Churches, Temples, Mosques and Festivals across America. The purpose of that group is to introduce chanting music from the ancient Vedic tradition to the society at large. Sura joined ISKCON in 1973 and has served as Temple President for 9 years in Missourri and International President of the Publishing House for 7 years in Los Angeles. He continues to be feverishly involved with Interfaith Dialogue and programs to promote the cultural sharing of our traditions.
Randolph Dobbs was born in Oakland, California, and raised in Salinas near Monterey, where he attended Hartnell College. In the mid-1990′s, he was elected to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Los Angeles and currently serves as its full-time Secretary. Mr. Dobbs also serves on the Regional Bahá’í Council of the State of California, an administrative position responsible for Bahá’í development in the region. He has contributed articles on religious matters to Beliefnet.com, Iranian.com, Examiner.com and other websites.
Mr. Dobbs is very active in the interfaith community and serves on the Executive Board of the Inter-Religious Council of Southern California, as a Religious Director in the Office of Religious Life at USC and as a member of the Board of Directors for the University Religious Conference at UCLA.
Joshua DuBois, was head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Executive Office of the President of the United States from 2009 to 2013.
In February 2013 he stepped down to write a book of devotionals based on the ones he sends Obama, start a consulting firm, and become the weekly religion and community solutions columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
DuBois has been included among “The Root 100” and Ebony Magazine’s “Power 150” lists of the most influential African Americans in the country.
He also appeared on the cover of Christianity Today magazine as one of the 33 most influential Christian leaders under 33.
Rabbi Finley is Co-Founder, Co-CEO and Rabbi of Ohr HaTorah. He received his doctorate in Religion-Social Ethics from the University of Southern California. In addition to his work at Ohr HaTorah, he serves as a professor at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California Campus, where he teaches Liturgy, Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality, and Professional Skills. Rabbi Finley also serves on the faculty of the Wexner Heritage Foundation and the Department of Continuing Education at the American Jewish University. He is married to Meirav Finley , Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Ohr HaTorah, and is the father of two sons, Levi Yitzchak and Kayitz, and two daughters, Shulamit and Avigayil.
James Fredericks, Ph.D. is a faculty member in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University and a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He is a specialist in inter-religious dialogue, especially the dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity, and has lectured internationally in Japan, China, India, Iran, and Europe. He was a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar in Kyoto, Japan, and has held the Numata Chair in Buddhism and Culture at Ryukoku University in Kyoto.
For many years, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies, the Los Angeles Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue Group and the San Francisco Bay Area Zen-Catholic Dialogue Group. In addition to many articles, he is the author of Faith Among Faiths: Christian Theology and the Non-Christian Religions (Paulist Press) and Buddhists and Christians: Through Comparative Theology to a New Solidarity (Orbis Books). His work has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, German, and Spanish.
Rini Ghosh was born and educated in India. Her Phd is on “T.B. Macaulay’s Minute: Formalization of English Education in India”. She has been in USA for over 35 years running her own business in California.
Rini has been a Peace and Non-violence Activist – a steadfast follower of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi from a very young age. She is a firm believer and passionately promotes interfaith co-operation. She has given lectures and speeches all over the world promoting peace, non-violence and inter-faith activities. She is on the Board of Directors of several philanthropic institutions: President of Vedanta International Cultural Center (VICC); On the board of Trustees of The Vedanta Society of Southern California; Director and Parliamentarian of the United Nations Asssociation, Pacific-Los Angeles Chapter; Past President of South Coast Interfaith Council. 2009; Past Executive Council member of Dakshini Bengali Association. 2010-2011.
March 2013 Rini Ghosh and Vedanta International Cultural Center (VICC) was honored by the Urban Community Outreach Center in Long Beach for inspirational service/seva to the homeless community in Long Beach. November 2011 she was awarded the Interfaith Unity Award by the South Coast Interfaith Council, honoring her for outstanding activities in the interfaith field. She received The Ambassador for Peace title from UPF in 2008.
Judy Gilliland is director of Interfaith Relations for the Southern California Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is active in a variety of organizations including the Southcoast Interfaith Council and the Women’s Interfaith Committee. She is the past president of the Interreligious Council of Southern California.
Steve Gilliland is director of Muslim Relations for the Southern California Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon completing his Ed.D. in counseling from Boston University, he established the LDS Institute of Religion in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has taught at the BYU Jerusalem Center and is a member of the Christian-Muslim Consulting Group.
Biographies from 2010 Inaugural Conference: “Mormon Engagement with the World Religions”. USC, June 11-12, 2010.
is a spiritual counselor, meditation teacher and ordained Interfaith Minister. The author or coauthor of 19 books, he lectures and leads workshops throughout the country. A novelist and screenwriter as well, he lives in Los Angeles, where he founded Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates (SWAHA). He is Director of Outreach for SpiritualCitizens.net. and blogs regularly on the Huffington Post and Intent.com
His latest book, AMERICAN VEDA: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West, was recently published by Harmony Books, a division of Random House. It chronicles the history and influence of India’s spiritual teachings in America. Huffington Post named it one of the top ten books on religion for 2010.