Monday, April 16, 2012

Historic White House Conference: Community Building in the 21st Century with Strengthened Dharmic Faith-Based Institutions

Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) is pleased to announce, on April 20th, with The White House Office of Public Engagement and the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, it is co-hosting a historic conference *Community Building in the 21stCentury with Strengthened Dharmic Faith-Based Institutions, * for the Dharmic (defined as Buddhist,Hindu, Jain, Sikh) Religious and Faith Based Institution Leaders.

The aim of the conference is to increase Dharmic capacity to serve and create conduits to address our Seva (social justice) issues and serve our neighbors and communities around us. With the briefing and interactive discussions we expect to have increased interaction between the government and our own eastern faiths. With strengthened Dharmic infrastructures, and focus on seva/service we can address our own needs and those of the many communities we live in. HASC is partnering with many Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh organizations, including Council of Hindu Temples, JAINA, Soka Gakkai International-USA and others to create a coalition.

The eastern Dharmic traditions share many commonalities, while recognizing they have different expressions. In America, our collective faith infrastructures (temples, ashrams, and meditation and yoga studios) are in early stages of development. The Dharmic Americans, mostly post 1964
immigrants, are just becoming part of the mosaic of the pluralistic landscape of America. The Inaugural Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership recognized America’s religious and cultural diversity and made specific recommendations to the President and the
Administration for their inclusion See the Interfaith Collaboration Section (starting from page 69) in *New Era of Partnerships: Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Presents Final Report of Recommendations*<>

In addition to the Council recommendations, HASC conducted pioneering research to assess the “State of Seva” in Dharmic America in the context of the programs provided by the Federal Agencies, identified the need to develop Seva Centers (compassionate infrastructure) and recommended ways to develop prototypes. Recognizing the seva infrastructure development gaps, and building upon the success of last year’s conference *Energizing Dharmic Seva: Impacting Change in America and Abroad*, HASC approached the White House to have a briefing and interactive conference for the Religious Leaders of the major eastern traditions, the Dharmic community, and our voice was heard. See our "Call to Serve Report"<>
and click here for the pdf *HASC Report<> .*

Over the past two years, in collaboration with Corporations for National and Community Service and Points of Light, HASC has worked to establish Seva center prototypes> in different locations. These in-faith and in-culture prototypes, promote pluralism, interfaith collaboration and bring the social justice voice to the local,
state and national platforms. Rather than directly implementing projects, HASC aims to facilitate inter and intra Dharmic and interfaith partnerships which, in turn, create and carry out projects of their own choosing.

During this briefing we expect different federal agencies to explain how they work with faith based communities and institutions (such as gurudwaras and temples) and hear our concerns and issues. We hope this will be the first step in us, the Dharmic community, in coming together, exploring and
identifying our common ground and building a coalition to strengthen each other and our nation.

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