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When a Liberation Theologian Travels with a Socially Engaged Buddhist to a Buddhist Conference in India – Part II

Cláudio Carvalhaes
Nagpur, India, October 14, 2016
During Fall Break, Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship, and Greg Snyder, Senior Director of Buddhist Studies traveled to Nagpur, India for The Social Engagement and Liberation conference, hosted by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Both Cláudio and Greg will be reflecting on their experience on the Union website. To read Cláudio first post, please click here.
To read Greg’s post, please click here. 
The sun in India is beautiful and strong. The days are hot and the evenings cool. The sun and the moon show us the pulse of the country at every corner you turn.
This conference is grounded around three themes: Dharma as empowerment, Breaking down barriers between people and Dharma as governance. These themes relate to Dr. Ambedkar’s main words for the constitution of India, very much influenced by the French Revolution: liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Today the theme was the Dharma as empowerment, and it was very moving. Dharma, the teachings of Buddhism, is often called the Buddha Dharma. It is the source of wisdom from Buddhism to humankind. Different streams of Buddhism have interpreted this in different ways, with the two major streams being:  Theravada and Mahayana. Dharma as empowerment means to make one freer or to help one become free. Throughout the day I thought I was in a base community in Latin America, hearing Dalits interpreting the Dharma from their social location and how it had changed their lives as the poor Christians in Latin American would interpret the Bible

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When A Million Buddhist Dalits Come to Town, Part 2

By Greg Snyder
Nagpur, 10/14/2016
During Fall Break, Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship, and Greg Snyder, Senior Director of Buddhist Studies traveled to Nagpur, India for The Social Engagement and Liberation conference, hosted by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Both Cláudio and Greg will be reflecting on their experience on the Union website.
To read Greg’s first post, please click here.
To read Cláudio post, please click here.  
Over the last two days, part of my role here has been to facilitate a discussion group exploring a daily theme. When considering the topics of empowerment and breaking down barriers, a contrast to similar conversations in the United States was striking, though not particularly surprising. As participants spoke about what was empowering for them in the Buddhadharma – the teaching of the Buddha – most everyone in the group from a Dalit background opened with a story about giving up a social identity rooted in self-hatred or a sense of no value. One might say that to greater or lesser degrees each exchanged a Dalit identity for that of a Buddhist. Some even celebrated that they do not use the word Dalit at all, but only refer to themselves as Buddhist.

Why this is not particularly surprising is because Ambedkar set up the conversion ceremony to do just this. In addition to taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha as well as the five moral precepts foundational to Buddhism – no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying or consuming intoxicants – Ambedkar added 22 more

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Invisible Woman: The Experience of Women and Girls in the Era of Mass Incarceration

On Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 Michelle Alexander, visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness hosted a panel discussion on, Invisible Woman: The Experience of Women and Girls in the Era of Mass Incarceration.

https://utsnyc.edu/invisible-woman-the-experience-of-women-and-girls-in-the-era-of-mass-incarceration/

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When a liberation theologian travels with a Socially Engaged Buddhist to a Buddhist Conference in India

by Cláudio Caravalhaes
Nagpur, India, October 12, 2016.
During Fall Break, Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship and Greg Snyder, Senior Director of Buddhist Studies traveled to Nagpur, India for The Social Engagement and Liberation conference, hosted by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Both Cláudio and Greg will be reflecting on their experience on the Union website. To read Cláudio second post, please click here. 
To read Greg’s post, please click here.
It was after our first faculty meeting at Union that Greg told me about a conference on Social Engagement and Liberation in Nagpur, India. This conference was to be centered around Buddhist Dalits and their processes of freedom in India. At that time, I was sitting in on his class “Socially Engaged Buddhism” wanting to know more about Buddhism. I surely accepted it and was bewildered by this gift. To learn how Buddhism deals with liberation and of the possibility to engage liberation from Buddhist and Christian perspectives immensely excited me. I knew a bit about Dalit Christian theology and was very curious to learn about the possibility of a Buddhist Dalit theology.
Before we came to India, we read Engaged Buddhism, by Christopher Queen and B.R. Ambedkar’s spellbinding book “Annihilation of Caste” with Arundhati Roy’s fierce and unforgettable introduction, called “The Doctor and the Saint.” To come to India was a challenge in itself. For me everything was unknown: country, place, conference, Buddhism. Greg was to be my guide and my priest.  With much care and a lot of wisdom, Greg showed some

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When a Million Buddhist Dalits Come to Town

By Greg Snyder
Nagpur, India, October 11th, 2016
During Fall Break, Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship, and Greg Snyder, Senior Director of Buddhist Studies traveled to Nagpur, India for The Social Engagement and Liberation conference, hosted by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Both Cláudio and Greg will be reflecting on their experience on the Union website. To read Greg’s second post, please click here. 
To read Cláudio post, please click here.  
In between events we are sitting in a small room off the main path of Nagaloka in Nagpur, India, where thousands of pilgrims continually stream through the gate to pay respects to the Buddha and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Elders, children, entire families and communities of Dalit converts, many wearing the white of Buddhist lay practitioners, visit the 60-foot golden image of the walking Buddha, who Ambedkar wanted to be portrayed with eyes open stepping forward to end suffering in the world. From behind this towering, radiant image the Buddha’s robes lift swiftly in his wake, as if one is witnessing the first determined step of his certain mission. After making offerings at the feet of the Buddha, pilgrims excitedly make their way to the life-size, garlanded bronze statue of Ambedkar who is portrayed with a cane in his hand, to do the same.
Amid the week’s celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar’s mass conversion here in Nagpur, we are taking part in a conference held by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), entitled Social Engagement and Liberation.

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Faith In America

Faith in America is a series of monthly public conversations at Union Theological Seminary. Leaders in the social justice and faith community will host each talk or panel discussion, focusing on critical national issues related to faith and society.
The range of topics will include faith and the political process, economic inequity, mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, the environment, racial injustice, and the longevity revolution.
Faith in America Calendar for Fall/Winter 2016 – 2017

Faith In America with Ruth Wooden
Date: Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM (Doors will open at 6:00 PM)
Location: The Social Hall at the Union Theological Seminary at 121st and Broadway
Please join Ruth Wooden, Former President of Public Agenda, and M.A. Graduate at Union Theological Seminary, for “The Aging of America: A New Workforce for Social Justice.”  
Panelists:
Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and founder of The Conversation Project
Lester Strong, NBC Nightly News Anchor Boston MA, and CEO at AARP Experience Corps
Click here to RSVP

Faith in America – Premiere Martin Doblmeier
Date: Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM (Doors will open at 6:00 PM)
Location: The James Chapel at the Union Theological Seminary at 121st and Broadway
Please join Martin Doblmeier, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker for the premiere of the upcoming documentary film, “An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story.”
Panelists will include:
Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary  
Additional panelists to be announced 
Click here to RSVP

Faith in America with Rev. Fred Davie
Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM (Doors will open at 6:00 PM)
Location: The Social Hall at the Union Theological Seminary at 121st and Broadway
Please

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Faith, Our Earth & Justice

The essay below was written by Victoria Furio, Convener, Climate Justice, in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and their confrontation with the Dakota Access Pipeline. 
From the Hollow to the Hallow
By Victoria Furio
The struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (known as DAPL) epitomizes the dangers and moral depravity of our current climate crisis but also points to the way out of it. We are witnessing once again the same coveting of what is not rightfully ours with which this nation was born, repeating the same historical disregard for life and dignity that continues to the present day.
In the pipeline frenzy, we see a seething for material gain, which Jesus tells us, is ephemeral (Mt. 6:19-21). He also warns us against being like the foolish man who built his house on sand instead of on the rock (Mt. 7: 24-27). A colossal pipeline stretching close to 1200 miles across four states, transporting dirty and volatile fracked oil, DAPL is a stunning reminder of the warning in Lakota prophecy of a black snake that is to bring with it destruction and devastation. In the pursuit of profit, there is no regard for the trampling of sacred sites, nor for the potential poisoning of water for millions, never again to be pure.
With disrespect for our First Nations peoples as the shameful common currency, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation became Flint II, a repeat of decisions to protect a select group, while a racial group is condemned to sickness and death. Only months after the

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Muslim Women Leaders Program (MWLP)

2016 Application
(Application opens October 1st and closes November 1st)
Description and Policies 
Description 
Are you a Muslim woman who serves in a religious, scholarly, community, or social leadership role? Are you interested in networking and dialoguing with a group of diverse Muslim women leaders? Are you interested in exploring your leadership role in relation to the Islamic tradition, public engagement, and inter-community solidarity?
This winter, from January 22-25, 2017, the Islam, Social Justice, and Interreligious Engagement Program (ISJIE) at Union Theological Seminary will host the first annual Muslim Women Leaders Program (MWLP).
The Muslim Women Leaders Program (MWLP) aims to nurture a community of dialogue among diverse Muslim women leaders. The program seeks to provide opportunities for networking; examination of relevant aspects of Islamic thought and practice; and development of practical skills in public engagement and communication. The program includes content sessions, practical trainings, dialogues with visiting Muslim women leaders, and group activities and discussions that draw upon the expertise and experiences of participants. Muslim women (18 years and older), who currently serve as leaders, are encouraged to apply.
Policies

Every participant must identify as a Muslim woman, and must be 18 years of age or older.
The online application will go live on October 1st.
Applications (including reference) must be submitted by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, November 1st.
Applicants will be notified of admission by or around December 1st.
Each participant will receive $500 stipend.
A limited amount of travel stipends, in the maximum amount of $200, are available for accepted applicants traveling long distances to New York City.
The quality

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Rev. Dr. William Barber Press Conference

On Thursday, September 1st, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, convened national religious and faith leaders to speak out against the divisive policies and rhetoric specifically as it relates to race that are being used in the Presidential campaign. Watch the press conference below.

https://utsnyc.edu/rev-dr-willam-barber-press-conference/

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Union Faculty Visit Colleagues in India

By Rev Dr. Serene Jones
Dr. Serene Jones visits Gabriele Dietrich, professor of Sociology at TTS the Centre for Social Analysis. She was President Jones’s Professor when she was a student there in l983-84.
As we welcome one of our largest recent classes to Union, I am very excited to share some of the lessons we learned this summer when several members of the Union Theological Seminary community joined me for a two-week trip to India, as part of our five-year International Connections Initiative.  The initiative is designed to refresh and expand Union’s academic ties to theological schools around the world.  
On the journey, I was joined by Dr. John Thatamanil, Associate Professor of Theology and World Religions; Andrea C. White, Associate Professor of Theology and Culture; Rev. Winnie Varghese, Union Alum and Priest and Director of Justice and Reconciliation, Trinity Church, Wall Street; and Rev. Dr. Rev. Richard Landers, Senior Director of Special Initiatives.
During our time in India, we explored creative scholarly work on interreligious engagement, gender-based and sexual violence, India’s ecology and environmental movements, and Dalit liberation theology from Indian scholars and activists, and institutions that support them. The Dalits are members of the lowest social group in the Hindu caste system and have faced centuries of discrimination and violence from members of higher castes.  
Inauguration and ribbon cutting ceremony at the TTS Student Counseling Center (from left, Mr. Charles Mohan, Rev. Winnie Varghese, J. David Rajendran, Principal of TTS)
 
It was an ambitious four-city tour – New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai,

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Statement on Recent Police Shootings

Statement on Recent Police Shootings of Black Men and Corrosive Level of Distrust in Communities of Color
Thursday, July 7th, 2016
“If President Barack Obama does nothing else in his retirement, he can lead a national conversation on police/community engagement and help the country address this national stain and tragedy of police officers shooting and killing black men.
“Last night in Harlem, I watched a black man pushing a baby in a stroller refuse a police van’s invitation to cross the street because the guy seemed not to trust the police officer would actually let him cross without provocation. That level of distrust can’t be allowed to stand. This corrosive relationship can’t be allowed to stand.
“And these killings with impunity can’t be allowed to stand. I believe President Obama, unencumbered by the demands of the office, can do a great deal to help heal these broken relationships. Our country needs it; our communities deserve it!”
Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary
Friday, July 8th, 2016
“Our hearts are heavy due to the violence in our nation. Prayers for the families of all of the victims, hatred to cease and for leadership that seeks peace and pursues it.”

Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary
Contact: gary@gzandassociates.com, 646-603- 6869

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Statement on the Orlando Shooting

“I am mourning with the families and friends of those lost in Orlando. The stark contrast between people dancing, singing, and enjoying their friends and loved ones and the atrocious violence committed speaks to the choice that we face as a society now. Do we choose openness and love or do we choose fear and hatred? May love conquer hate and may we take action to make violence cease.”
Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary
“Today is a day of heartbreak for Orlando, the LGBTQ community (especially the Latinx LGBTQ community, who had an event that evening at ‘Pulse’), our nation, and people of faith and people of conscience all over the world. Especially during the holy and sacred times of Ramadan and Pride Month, these events are especially jarring. Tonight, we gather to mourn and to demonstrate once again that love always conquers hate. What was meant to divide our communities will only bind us closer together. May we all take steps to end gun violence so that we never have to have a vigil like this one again.”
Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary

https://utsnyc.edu/statement-on-the-orlando-shooting/

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Union Mourns the Rev. Charles A. Amstein, M.Div. ′62

Union’s Church Relations Advisor 2000 – 2012
After retiring as Associate Pastor of the Madison Ave Presbyterian Church in New York City, Charles Amstein accepted a part-time position in the fall of 2000 as Church Relations Advisor for Union’s Development Office. In this capacity he was involved in expanding the Seminary’s important relationship with the churches, especially those in the tri-state area, until 2012, and he is remembered with admiration and affection by his colleagues.
He was also a Parish Associate at the Rutgers Presbyterian Church, where he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination on June 3, 2012. His sermon was “Born from Above.” John B. Weaver, S.M.M. ’68, served as guest organist and choir director.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2016, at 4 pm, at Rutgers Presbyterian Church, which is located at 236 W 73rd Street, with placement of his ashes in the Rutgers Columbarium as part of the service. A reception in the Narthex or Church House will immediately follow the service.
The Amstein Scholarship at Union Theological Seminary was established by members of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church to honor his retirement as associate pastor.
The following obituary was published by the Presbytery of New York City on April 21, 2016:
In Memoriam
Charles A. Amstein
September 14, 1933 – April 7, 2016
Charles Amstein graduated from Manhattan High School (Kansas) in 1951 and Kansas State University in 1955. He served two years in the U.S. Army, before entering Union Theological Seminary. Ordained June 3, 1962, Rev. Amstein served the First

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Student Spotlight Questionnaire

Student Spotlight Questionnaire

Name

Email

1. What was the moment that you knew that Union was the place for you?

2. What are some challenges you have faced at Union?

3. What are you planning to do after you graduate?

4. How is Union preparing you for that work?

5. Anything else you would like to add?

https://utsnyc.edu/student-spotlight-questionnaire/

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