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Special Issue No 23

The Embassy of Kazakhstan and its Intersections Partner host
Inter-Faith Dialogue and Dinner at the Embassy of Kazakhstan

Category: General
Posted by: admin

Special Issue No 23, December 22, 2008

Dana Khussainova
Third Secretary, Embassy of Kazakhstan, 202.232-5488, dana@kazakhembus.com
Sara Reef
Project Manager, Intersections, 646.723.7825, sreef@intersectionsinternational.org
The Embassy of Kazakhstan and its Intersections Partner host
Inter-Faith Dialogue and Dinner at the Embassy of Kazakhstan

Washington D.C. – On Thursday, 11 December 2008, The Embassy of Kazakhstan and Intersections International hosted the first ever inter-faith dialogue and dinner at the Embassy of Kazakhstan.

    The Embassy of Kazakhstan and Intersections, a global initiative dedicated to forging a common ground to promote peace, justice, and reconciliation, gathered more than twenty-five U.S. religious leaders for a dinner conversation aimed at building support in the U.S. for upcoming international interreligious convocations in Kazakhstan beginning in the summer of 2009. Intersections’ Founding Director, The Reverend Robert Chase commented, "This gathering brought together a wide spectrum of religious expression in the U.S. Such diversity is our distinct contribution to global interreligious dialogue."

Religious leaders present that evening included Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Director of the Armenian Church of America and President of the National Council of Churches; Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America; Reverend  James Massa, Executive Director for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops; Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director for Interfaith and Community Alliances at the Islamic Society of North America; and Rabbi Dr. Burt Visotzky, Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. More than fifteen different religious groups, numbering over 150 million constituents were represented. These included Hare Krishnas, members of the Native American spiritualists, Jews, Zoroastrians, mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, and Hindus.

    Kazakhstan, a Central Asian nation of over 15 million inhabitants, offers a broad cross section of religious and ethnic groups, making it a logical place to host initiatives that cross lines of faith and culture.

    The evening began with a tour of the Embassy, and welcoming remarks, led by H.E. Erlan Idrissov, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States: “Kazakhstan like the US is the melting pot – a Eurasian home for more than 130 ethnic and 40 religious groups. We nurtured our culture of tolerance throughout centuries of Kazakh history. More and more Kazakhstan is recognized in the world as a model of tolerance and peace in our volatile region. Kazakhstan develops a unique platform for the interfaith dialogue by hosting triennial Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions since 2003; in July, 2009 we will host the Third Congress. Interethnic and interfaith accord, mutual respect and tolerance are at the top of Kazakhstan’s political agenda and Astana will be aspiring to promote these values in its role as the Chair of OSCE in 2010 and of the Organization of Islamic Conference in 2011”. A blessing was then offered by Mr. Kenneth Frost, Ute Tribe Chairman, and Reverend James Massa, Executive Director, Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    Once dinner ended, a dialogue, moderated by Reverend Robert Chase, Founding Director of Intersections, commenced. The discussion focused on using inter-faith dialogue as a vehicle to promote world peace.

    To date, Kazakhstan’s most prominent attempts to lead inter-faith dialogue on the global stage have come in the form of two triennial Congresses of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions; an idea that emerged from meetings between Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the late Pope John Paul II. The first Congress was held in 2003 and the second followed in 2006. Both took place in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, and were chaired by President N.Nazarbayev. A third Congress will be held in Astana in July, 2009.

In 2010, Kazakhstan assumes the chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This 56 member organization, which also includes the U.S. and Canada, counts all European countries and those of the Caucuses and Central Asia as its members. Kazakhstan will be the first Eurasian government to Chair this organization in 2010, and intends to use its chairmanship to promote inter-religious dialogue.

In 2011, Kazakhstan becomes the Chair of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). This provides the opportunity for three consecutive years of interfaith dialogue on a prominent global stage.
The Embassy of Kazakhstan and Intersections continue to work and partner together to promote inter-religious dialogue and peace.

News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Contact person: Zhanbolat Ussenov
Tel.: 202-232-5488 ext 104; Fax: 202-232-5845
 Web-site: www.kazakhembus.com