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‘Burlington Forum on Coexistence’ Honors 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 7, 2018

‘Burlington Forum on Coexistence’ Honors 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 7, 2018

BURLINGTON, VT – In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed equality, justice and dignity for all people, Grace Initiative Global and The Episcopal Church in Vermont will be hosting “The Burlington Forum on Coexistence” at the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, 2 Cherry Street, Burlington, VT. The event will take place on Friday, December 7, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Admission is free of charge and open to the public.


(Unable to make it in person? Watch for live streaming portions on the Episcopal Church in Facebook Page beginning around 9:00 AM)

The purpose of “The Burlington Forum on Coexistence” is to promote dignity, respect and coexistence, and to offer a roadmap for addressing hatred, anger and exclusion. The Forum will include brief remarks from faith leaders and community members who work to combat economic injustice and violence, and those who defend migrants, refugees, and people marginalized by gender, race or religion. Additionally, participants will engage in facilitated, small group discussions around the speakers’ themes. A tentative list of speakers can be found at the conclusion of this article.

The 2018 Forum follows the spirit and rationale of “The Boston Forum on Coexistence in a Democratic Society,” which was held last year. The upcoming Forum builds on the goals of last year’s event by promoting the recognition and respect of the dignity of every person, a principle embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely, bishop of The Episcopal Church in Vermont, said, “Dignity is a topic that The Episcopal Church in Vermont has engaged with fervor in recent years. It was the theme of our 2017 diocesan convention, and we continue to explore this aspect of our calling at a time when human differences are so often portrayed as something to be feared rather than celebrated. Co-presenting the Burlington Forum with Grace Initiative is a natural fit and, I hope, will convey to the wider community our commitment to honoring the dignity of all humankind.”

“Respecting the dignity of all people is integral to peaceful, inclusive coexistence in a democratic society,” said Yvonne Lodico, founder of Grace Initiative. “That’s essentially the message of the Burlington Forum as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that inspired the event. Dignity and respect transcend perceived differences like race, gender, religion, economic status, and place of residence. In this regard, the basis for respecting the dignity of others exists universally, independently of a person’s social utility, abilities, race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or religion.”

To learn more about “The Burlington Forum on Coexistence” or to register, please send an email to or Members of the media who would like to request an interview with the featured speakers are asked to contact Maurice Harris by phone at (802) 451-0249 or by email at

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages. Learn more at

The Episcopal Church in Vermont

The Episcopal Church in Vermont comprises 45 congregations across the Green Mountain State that share in the mission to pray the prayer of Christ, to learn the mind of Christ, and to do the deeds of Christ. The congregations live into this mission through ministries of Formation, Liberation, Communication, Connection, and Celebration. The Episcopal Church in Vermont is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Learn more at

Grace Initiative Global

The Initiative for Governance, Reconciliation, Agriculture and Coexistence – Grace Initiative Global – strives toward innovative peacebuilding and conflict prevention through strategies of healing, empowering and transforming. Grace Initiative carries out its goals through innovative and expert constructive engagement, focused empowerment, multi-stakeholder collaborations, and holistic understanding; through international and multi-disciplinary expertise. Grace Initiative adheres to and promotes global goals such as the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN Security Council Resolution 1325, international human rights instruments, and humanitarian principles. Learn more at

Featured Speakers Who Have Committed So Far…

Featured Speakers who have committed to date are listed below. We are awaiting final word from several others. Please note that this list is subject to change:

  • The Rev. Nicholas Porter, co-founder, Jerusalem PeaceBuilders
  • Jeff Mandell, program director, Kids4Peace – VT/NH Chapter
  • Rabbi Amy Small, Ohavi Zedek Synagogue
  • Yvonne Lodico, founder, Grace Initiative Global
  • The Rev. Dr. Arnold Thomas, pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Underhill, VT
  • Maurice L. Harris, diocesan communications minister and co-convener of the Racial Reconciliation/Healing Network, The Episcopal Church in Vermont
  • The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, treasurer and past president, Vermont Interfaith Action; rector, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre, VT
  • Mark Hughes, co-founder and director, Justice For All
  • Bor Yang, executive director & legal counsel, Vermont Human Rights
  • Mark Oettinger, attorney & chair of the Vermont Bar for international law; founder, World Human Rights Center in Burlington
  • Robin Lloyd, co-founder, Peace & Justice Center; leader, Burlington Chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom


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