Dr. Kuan Co-Convenes National Buddhist-Christian Dialogue 

This article originally appeared in the National Council of Churches Newsletter on June 7, 2024

The National Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, co-sponsored by the National Council of Churches, Hsi Lai Temple, University of the West, Claremont School of Theology, and The Guibord Center, met on May 29 in Los Angeles, CA. This session of the dialogue, which generally meets twice per year, was hosted by the University of the West. The dialogue, which began meeting in 2018, is one of five national dialogues co-convened by the NCC and its interfaith partners, including the National Hindu-Christian Dialogue, the National Jewish-Christian Dialogue, the National Muslim-Christian Dialogue, and the National Sikh-Christian Dialogue.

One main topic of the session was “Learning from each other: A conversation between elders and youth, on how we practice our respective faiths.”  Moderated by University of the West professor Dr. Jane Iwamura, the discussion included “elders” Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kuan (Claremont School of Theology), Ven. Walpola Piyananda (Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara), and Dr. Lewis Lancaster (University of California Berkeley), as well as youth representatives Mr. Vincent Liu and Ms. Cassandra Garcia (Hsi Lai youth group), and Mr. Ryland Fernandez and Mr. William Morris (United Methodist Church).

The discussion also included a presentation by Dr. Tammy Ho (University of California-Riverside) on The Transformative Hope Project, for which she serves as director, and a presentation by Ven. Xiandong Shih (a current doctoral candidate), who shared the preliminary findings from her dissertation on “Youth Engaging Buddhism.” Among the points of discussion were anti-Asian hate and violence, faith and forgiveness, and making way for younger generations to start leading in various communities.

Another central topic of the session was “Peacemaking rooted in our faiths: A roundtable discussion during a time of global conflict and domestic turmoil.” Moderated by University of the West professor Dr. Victor Gabriel, the discussion opened with presentations by Dr. Lo Sprague (The Guibord Center), Rev. Dr. Paul Tche (Christian Church/Disciples of Christ), and Ven. Dr. Kongala Pannaloka (a recent doctorate recipient). The participants shared their concerns and hopes, as well as sources of strength and calls to action as our communities of faith confront the crises in our world today. Prominent themes in the general discussion that followed were the call to empathy and the need to stand together to help the vulnerable in our midst.

The next session of the dialogue will likely meet in late fall.