April 4, 1999

William Vendley's visit begins year-long project sponsored by Religious Studies Program

Among the peace negotiators forced to depart from the borders of Kosovo when NATO bombing began in March was William Vendley, secretary-general of the World Conference on Religion and Peace/International (WCRP). Vendley will speak at Cornell University April 9 and in Valois, N.Y., April 10.

He is the founder of the Inter-Religious Council, under WCRP, which maintains multimillion-dollar programs in the former Yugoslavia, funded through the European Union, all Scandinavian countries and the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. WCRP is a non-governmental organization affiliated with the United Nations.

Vendley will deliver a public talk at Cornell Friday, April 9, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 230 of Rockefeller Hall on "Religion and Human Rights: Developing Essential Commonalties in Religious Languages." A reception will follow in Rockefeller 374.

"Dr. Vendley's visit inaugurates a larger project to focus our attention on the complexity of religious traditions as they participate in shaping world events," said Jane Marie Law, director of the Religious Studies Program at Cornell. "His lecture goes right to the heart of the issue by talking about the possibilities for inclusion and the forces of exclusion at work in religious languages of the world's various traditions."

Vendley's visit to Ithaca, made possible through a grant from the Infinity Foundation, is the inaugural event of the Institute for the Study of Religion in Society, a year-long project sponsored by the Religious Studies Program and the Cornell School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions.

The institute's theme for the 1999--2000 academic year, culminating in an international symposium June 26--July 14, 2000, at Cornell is "Religion and Human Rights: Dialogues on Persecution, Intolerance and Environmental Degradation." Vendley's visit is the first in a five-part lecture/workshop series leading up to the summer 2000 symposium, and it is co-sponsored by the Religious Studies Program and Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies.

On Saturday, April 10, beginning at 10 a.m., Vendley will present an all-day workshop titled "Conversion: Recreating the Past as We Shape the Future" at the Wisdom's Goldenrod Center on Route 414 in Valois. The workshop will include lectures, discussions, sacred music and nondenominational spiritual exercises intended to help explore the profound personal experience of "conversion." A reception will follow. Transportation from Ithaca will be coordinated for those needing assistance. There is no charge for this all-day workshop. However, a donation of $10 is requested to cover expenses for lunch and coffee breaks. As space is limited, those wishing to attend the workshop are asked to call the Religious Studies Program at Cornell in advance.

For more information about these events or the institute's Symposium on Religion and Human Rights, contact the Religious Studies Program at (607) 255-1326 or via e-mail at mm177@cornell.edu. Further information on Wisdom's Goldenrod can be found by visiting the web site.