The idea was that Symposium would bring together all of our community… As long as we live in these bodies, as long as we are on this earth, as long as we do this work, we cannot live in separation, because we don’t live separated lives.”
–Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé
Starr King Symposium
January 9, 2021
Online via Zoom
Registration is now open!
What is Symposium?
A tradition founded by former SKSM Provost Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé (1952-2016), Symposium is an annual gathering of our entire student body, faculty, staff, trustees, and community members. This “urban retreat” serves as a day of study, dialogue, food, art, music, community-building, service, and celebration of the Spirit of Life, as we cultivate multi-religious, counter-oppressive, just and sustainable communities.
Starr King’s 9th Annual Symposium will be held January 9th, 2021. This Symposium is convened by Dean Gabriella Lettini in collaboration with other SKSM faculty and community leaders.
Our Honored Teacher
This year we are thrilled to have Professor Najeeba Syeed, a world renowned peace-maker, healer, scholar activist, and educator. Professor Syeed will also receive an honorary doctorate (Doctorate of Humane Letters) from SKSM during the opening ritual of the Symposium.
Professor Syeed is a graduate of Guilford College and Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where she was a teaching fellow in the area of mediation and ran the university’s mediation program. Professor Syeed served as Associate Professor of Interreligious Education at Claremont School of Theology and Director of the Center for Global Peacebuilding. In July, Professor Syeed joined the Chicago Theological Seminary faculty as Associate Professor in Muslim and Interreligious Studies.
Professor Syeed received the Jon Anson Ford Award for reducing violence twice and was named Southern California Mediation Association’s “Peacemaker of the Year” in 2007. Her scholarship encompasses Muslim peacebuilding, interfaith just peacemaking and diplomacy, Islamic spiritual formation for peacemaking, pedagogies for inter-religious education, and justice-grounded transformative rituals.
Professor Syeed’s writings have been published widely on academic and popular settings. Most recently, she authored a chapter in the upcoming book, Asian and Asian American Women in Theology and Religion. Her co-edited book Critical Perspectives on Interreligious Education: Experiments in Empathy will be available in 2020. Syeed regularly appears on various media entities to speak on topics such as religion and politics, interfaith peace building, and social justice activism.
The topic of Professor Syeed Symposium’s address will be: “Birthing Interfaith Rituals of Resistance to Disrupt State Violence.” This is also the topic of the book that she is currently writing.
For more information about honored speaker Najeeba Syeed, visit najeeba.com/about.
Birthing Interfaith Rituals of Resistance to Disrupt State Violence
Professor Syeed will interrogate, and trouble, the idea that civility is the primary goal of interfaith action and dialogue. In her lecture she will offer examples of how religious leaders and communities have developed ritual protests as a form of contemporary sacred resistance to inhumane migration policies.
Miriam Peretz will be our Featured Ritualist for Symposium 2021. She is an internationally celebrated dancer who has devoted her life to empowering and healing women through the art of dance, ritual practice and community building. Over the course of her lifetime career, she has developed two signature dance format’s, Nava Dance and Integral Dance. Nava Dance is rooted in Miriam’s extensive training in Central Asian dance, however also integrates devotional whirling and mystical practices from her personal spiritual path. Integral Dance is a holistic practice weaving together contemporary dance, somatics, martial arts, and cross-cultural/cross-religious themes. Both formats embrace Miriam’s belief in the potential of movement and dance to facilitate physical, spiritual, and emotional healing. Her love of dance has led her on an extraordinary life-long journey in search for ways to use the arts as a bridge between people of different backgrounds and spiritual traditions. Miriam sees dance as a uniquely powerful means of expressing deep emotion and spiritual yearning, and therefore the perfect embodiment of prayer.
Rooted Resistance: The Faithful Work of Nonviolent Direct Action
Join the UU Justice Ministry of California and the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity for a two-hour exploration of the roles and rituals of faith leaders and organizers in nonviolent direct action. We will begin with a brief overview of faith-rooted organizing theory and skills as shaped by our values and visions, followed by a discussion on the importance of nonviolent resistance, and how religious practice and faith are called to engage movements towards liberation.
Gala King (Regional Organizer, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity)
Gala King (she/her) supports, strengthens, and builds solidarity capacity among sanctuary congregations and faith leaders in Northern California, primarily through IM4HI’s four Bay Area Coalitions. For the past 15 years, Gala has been working with communities and organizations in the Bay Area focused on social justice, cultural resiliency, and faith-based organizing, locally and abroad. With a background in public health, she has experience engaging with communities to increase their access to vital data and information, and build capacity to use information to protect their personal and community health.
Rev. Ranwa Hammamy (Executive Director, UU Justice Ministry of California)
Rev. Ranwa Hammamy (they/she) serves as the Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California, which supports UUs around the state in their various justice ministries by providing advocacy, education, and witness opportunities to live out our UU values. Ranwa has previously served as President of DRUUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries), a national organization for UU People of Color. A self-described “UU-Muslim,” Ranwa seeks to serve both living traditions in her ministry, encouraging others both to grow and learn from each other’s gifts.
Schedule of Events
9:15 am – Symposium Zoom Opens with Pre-Event Interfaith Messages and Prayers of Resistance
9:30 am – Opening Ritual with Miriam Peretz and Conferral of Honorary Degree
10:00 am – Keynote Address: Dr. Najeeba Syeed
Birthing Interfaith Rituals of Resistance to Disrupt State Violence
10:45 am – Q&A
11:15 am – Break
12:20 pm – Participants Return to the Zoom Meeting
12:30 pm – Community Conversation Breakouts
1:30 pm – Break
2:00 pm – Rooted Resistance: The Faithful Work of Nonviolent Direct Action with Gala King & Rev. Ranwa Hammamy
4:00 pm – Brief Closing Ritual with Miriam Peretz
4:15 pm – Symposium Ends
Please Note: Parts of this event will be recorded for both absent students and release for the public. If you have any concerns about being on camera please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For highlights of past Starr King Symposia, click here.