Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Guibord Center: Unleashing the Holy through interfaith "convivencia"

Yesterday I went to the inauguration of the Guibord Center at St John's Cathedral and was inspired, uplifted and blown away by the spirit of "convivencia"--the amazingly vibrant interfaith culture that is evolving in LA. Convivencia is the word used to describe the "golden age" of Muslim Spain when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived and worked together in deeply transformative ways. The convivencia helped usher in the Renaissance in Europe, and set an example for us in the 21st century. I believe we are living through another convivencia here in Los Angeles.

Several hundred people attended the inauguration of the Guibord Center  with prayers, messages, and music by sikhs, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Greek Orthodox, Episcopalians, etc. The theme was "bringing people together to challenge assumptions, unleash the Holy and affirm the faith that transforms the world."

All I can say about this fabulous, deeply spiritual program is "Amen" and "Wow!"

Here's what Gwynne Guibord (rector of St John's Cathedral) has to say about this bold new initiative:

Religion, once a common way of making sense of the world, a way of connecting to a set of beliefs and a code of ethics that unite us with something beyond and deeply within ourselves, has often come in today’s world to be perceived as a jumble of justifications that are used to separate and injure those deemed “Other”. While all religion at its root joins us to that which is far more expansive than we are, religion stops being religion when it separates us from the Living Force that inspires and transforms us and affirms the good within all people. In a world that is rapidly changing and challenging us daily, we need to be able to claim the richness that lies at the heart of religion and at the depth of our own experiences of “The Holy”.
We need to be able to turn religion inside out: to unleash The Holy and affirm the faith that does, indeed, truly transform not only our own lives but our families, our communities and the world.


The Guibord Center – Religion Inside Out founded by The Reverend Dr. Gwynne Guibord is an independent California non-profit corporation located in one of the most religiously and spiritually diverse cities in the world – Los Angeles. The Guibord Center – Religion Inside Out is dedicated to creating and upholding a sacred space in the public square that honors The Holy in The Other. It is a place of meeting and interaction for an extraordinary variety of spiritual and religious traditions.

Unlike many other wonderful interfaith educational institutions that have as their final goal to define differences and similarities between faiths and facilitate a spirit of cooperation and collegiality, our intention is something more – it is not only to enable people to hear each other’s religious or spiritual voices without fear or intolerance but with openness to the presence of The Holy – to experience the Holy through the eyes of the Other. We will achieve this by inviting participants from different spiritual and faith traditions into an environment that is not only academic and cognitive but also close and personal – that involves the “heart” as well as the “head”, where participants can come to trust and respect one another. Such openness will not only deepen one’s own faith but also encourage multiple faiths to play a constructive role in shaping our collective life and doing the good works that all religions and spiritual practices believe in. Turning religion inside out will deepen our own personal and collective faith experiences and serve to free our communities from prejudice and hatred.

The Guibord Center is planning a series of impressive interfaith event on a monthly basis.
For more, see

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