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    DALLAS, TX – Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), although considered by many to be the ‘Buckle of the Bible Belt’, is one of three official bid cities for the 2014 Parliament of the World’s Religions (PoWR). A coalition of local spiritual and religious organizations are working together in this effort to be the host city. DFW is the only US city being considered. The two other candidates are Brussels, Belgium, and Guadalajara, Mexico.

    The DFW Interfaith Coalition Parliament Exploratory Committee, chaired by Suliaman Hemani, a leader in the Ismaili Muslim Community, and vice-chair Rev. Dr. Petra Weldes, Senior Minister of the Center for Spiritual Living, presented a formal bid to the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) last month in its headquarters in Chicago.

    “The Council (CPWR) believes that DFW is certainly an intriguing place to have a PoWR since it would shake up the stereotypes that people have of this area. We are thrilled with this opportunity,” said Coalition Vice-Chair Rev. Petra Weldes. “We don’t need to sell the Council on DFW as a world class city, what we need to sell them on is that we have serious issues facing our global community, and that an inter-religious dialogue would actually be meaningful to people on all sides of the conversation in locations around the world in a significant way,” said Rev. Weldes.

    To gain support, organizations and leaders are being asked daily to join and support the DFW Interfaith Coalition. Coalition members currently represent Muslim, Judaism, Orthodox Christian, African American Christian, Catholic, Christian United Methodist, New Thought, the Urantia Community, Sikh, Baha’i and Hindu traditions.

    Each step of the bid process requires demonstrating financial, city and community support for the PoWR conference, which is held only once every five years. The coalition easily and quickly raised $3500 for the first presentation in Chicago through a fund raising dinner and making people aware of its mission.

    “Demonstrating broad based support for holding the PoWR here and fund raising are keys to our becoming the host city,” says Coalition Chair Suliaman Hemani. “We will make a second presentation in August which requires a $6,000 commitment fee. I am confident we can tap into donors not only DFW but in Texas and around the US to support the PoWR coming to America via DFW.” Acceptance of the DFW Coalition’s 2nd draft bid in August then will make Dallas-Fort Worth an inaugural member of the PoWR Partner City Network.

    CPWR’s mission promotes inter-religious harmony, rather than unity, an approach enriched by the particularities of each tradition. Its goal is a just, peaceful and sustainable world where religious and cultural fears and hatreds are replaced with understanding and respect based on mutual values, and the earth and all life are cherished, protected, healed and restored for the common good.

    “The spirit of collegiality that we experienced as we made our bid was heart-warming, and the clarity and support we received from the CWPR staff in Chicago was exactly the insight and information we needed,” said Rev. Weldes. “Our team was tremendously impressed with their transparency, willingness to support, and overall professionalism. It is truly a joy to work with people of such vision, integrity and skill.”

    The last PoWR was held in December 2009 in Melbourne , Australia. CPWR won’t announce a final decision on the 2014 host city until October 2011. The DFW Interfaith Coalition feels the revitalization in the Arts District, Trinity River project, Dallas “greenest city” initiative, and the Dart Rail lines are a plus in showing how an urban area can renew itself when people work together. Coalition leaders emphasized DFW is a hub for the western hemisphere, making it easy for all the Americas to be involved, and our growing Hispanic community makes it a perfect place for a larger Latino and Catholic involvement.

    “A survey by DFW International, an independent non-profit organization, shows English is not the first language of 43-percent of Dallas households. This is truly indicative of the rich geographic, linguistic, socio-economic, religious and cultural diversity that exists in the DFW Metroplex, and in diversity there is strength,” said Hemani. “PoWR participants from all over the world will get to experience this diversity and witness the harmony we have. Our region truly represents the spirit of pluralism that exists in the U.S.”

    The DFW Interfaith Coalition has the support of Mayor Tom Leppert and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson for the PoWR bid. Coalition participants include Thanks-Giving Square, The Foundation for Pluralism, the Memnosyne Foundation, The Aga Khan Foundation, PartnershipsInAction, and the Association for Global New Thought (Advisory member), which are all heavily involved in dialogue and cooperation with cities and organizations globally.

    “The issues facing North Texas, the US and the world are so complex and multi-layered, that we can no longer look to one group, organization or even arena to move us forward,” said Rev. Weldes. “We must all learn to work, collaborate, and operate together, and since religion can be such a seriously divisive issue, it can also be the best place to start bringing people together. A deepening awareness of the international inter-religious movement will continue to strengthen the relationships between the diverse elements of DFW’s population.”

    The DFW Interfaith Coalition plans meetings across the DFW area with all of the area’s mayors and religious and spiritual communities to bring them on board. The coalition has started a social media campaign and will soon announce an official website, along with an updated Facebook page and Twitter account.

    Here’s a link to the CWPR’s release on the official bid cities:

    For more information on the Council of the World’s Religions, please visit the council’s website, where you can also see highlights of the 2009 Parliament in Melbourne. For interviews with Suliaman Hemani and Rev. Dr. Petra Weldes, please contact Alexis Yancey, DFW Coalition Public Relations Chair at 214-335-4744-cell/text or via email:

  2. This was an awesome podcast as always! Thank you both for telling us about your coming out stories and giving us all the wonderful information during the show! Do you you have any plans to have a Shhhhhh there are pagans in Texas meet and greet?

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  1. Shhhh! There are pagans in Texas! Episode #2 Notes | Shhh! There are pagans in Texas!!

    […] in Texas!! Just another site Skip to content HomeCalendarContact UsEpisodesLinksRennyRoseSeekers Bill of Rights ← Shhhh! There are pagans in Texas! Episode […]

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