Interfaith Summit

CREW is having a 2021 Interfaith Summit, please see link below:

Click: Here


Program below is from 2020


**Please note, due to the Novel Coronavirus, this has been changed to a virtual event***. 

2020 Interfaith Summit: Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Vulnerability:

An Interfaith Summit on How to Respond

In the wake of the National Climate Assessment and UN report in 2018 on the projected serious consequences of unchecked climate change, interfaith leaders from the greater Boston area will come together with Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) to host the second annual interfaith summit on vulnerability and climate change on the afternoon of March 29th, 2020 from 2pm-4pm on zoom. 

This now abbreviated digital summit will focus on the role of faith communities in helping their community members build resilience, whether from future climate impacts such as floods, extreme heat, and severe storms, or more immediate concerns like a pandemic. We will shall share knowledge on the types of changes we are already seeing and can expect to see in the Northeast, discuss practical ways congregations can prepare themselves and their surrounding community, and discern together how our spiritual practices could help sustain not only our efforts, but also our souls, hearts, and minds, as we engage in this most critical mission.

The summit agenda and biographies for each speaker can be found below.

Thank you to all who attended! A link to a recording of the virtual summit can be found HERE.

Interested in hosting a similar event in your area? Want to learn how your congregation can help the community prepare for climate impacts? Contact us!


Updated Agenda for digital participation

2:00pm-2:10pm Welcome, Rev. Vernon Walker, Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW)

2:10pm-2:25pm Welcome, Jean-Luc Pierite, North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB)

2:25pm-2:35pm Defining “Resilience”, Dr. Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

2:35pm-2:50pm Keynote Address: Narratives and Sources of Resilience from Local Indigenous Communities, Leslie Jonas 

2:50pm-3:20pm Breakouts to Discussion of Cultural/Spiritual Approaches to Resilience Across Faiths

Indigenous facilitator: Mea Johnson

Christian facilitator: Rev. Adekunle Ogunseye

Jewish facilitator: Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

Muslim facilitator: Shua Khan Arshad 

Buddhist facilitator: Priya Sraman

3:20pm-3:50 Breakout Group Report Backs and Reflections

3:50pm-3:55pm- Next Steps and Resources - Craig Altemose, Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW)

3:55pm-4:00pm Closing Prayer, Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman


Leslie Jonas- Keynote Speaker

Leslie Jonas is an eel clan member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and has worked for the Tribe in
different capacities for the past 14 years; her last role as Tribal Administrator between 2016 and 2019.
With a BA in Mass Communications and TV Production from Emerson College and a Masters Degree in
Community Economic Development, in her current work, Leslie provides professional development,
strategy, and grants management education to 501c3 non-profits, and Indian Tribes; furthering a Tribe’s
grants writing capacity to increase revenue and services to tribal people. For the past 8 years, as Vice-chair of the Native Land Conservancy (NLC), she has been part of the team that helped to build this first, native-led land trust east of the Mississippi. The NLC is involved with numerous land conservation and preservation projects from Cape Cod and the islands, west to the Blackstone River and north to the Merrimack in MA.

Leslie brings incredible energy, enthusiasm, dedication and experience to each and every one of her jobs and projects. During the past few years, she has been focusing on Climate Change from the Indigenous Perspective. Currently, this work for the Native Land Conservancy has led to her speaking publicly on Climate Change and producing an educational video tool for audiences across many disciplines.

Reverend Vernon K. Walker- Master of Ceremony 

 Rev. Vernon K. Walker is originally born and raised in Philadelphia. Rev. Walker attended Penn State University for college where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Organizational Leadership and a minor in Psychology in 2012.

After graduating from Penn State University, Rev. Walker attended Boston University's School of Theology and earned a Master Degree in Theological Studies (M.T.S) in 2016. During this time, Rev. Walker also crossed registered to take courses at Harvard University' Divinity School on non-profit leadership. Rev. Walker also took classes at the School of Social Work at Boston University that focused on social justice and macro social work practices.

While a member of the Berachah church in Dorchester, Rev. Walker helped to develop the social action and outreach department. Currently, Rev. Walker is a part of the Pentecostal Tabernacle community engagement team. Rev. Walker has also lectured about his social justice work at Wellesley College, Boston University, Bentley University.

Dr. Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee- Introductory Presentation on the Goals of the Summit

Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee is a Climate Resilience Chaplain and Coach in the greater Boston area and an adjunct professor with the Wesley Theological Seminary. She recently earned her Ph.D. in social and ecological ethics from Boston University School of Theology. She studies intersections of ecofeminism, permaculture ethics, grief, and nature connection. She previously did graduate research on Alzheimer’s Disease and preventive research on Ovarian Cancer. She received a B.Sc. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. in Molecular Biology from Harvard University, and an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology. She lives in metrowest Massachusetts with her husband, two daughters, and rescue pup, and enjoys gardening, canoeing, learning about medicinal and edible wild plants, and rewriting old hymns to make them more inclusive.

Priya Sraman- Buddhist Facilitator

Priya Rakkhit Sraman joined the Tufts University Chaplaincy team in August of 2016 as Buddhist in Residence and became Buddhist Chaplain in July of 2018. He is originally from Chittagong, Bangladesh and he received his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2017.

As the Buddhist in Residence at Tufts, he leads mindfulness meditation sessions twice a week. He also guides dharma discussions after the meditation sessions. It involves reading important Buddhist texts in a group. While the meditation focuses on strengthening mindfulness and concentration, the discussion is meant to help with understanding Buddhist principles in relation to our personal and social living. There is a practical purpose to it, in that it reminds us that the Buddhist teachings are for our daily usage, not merely for the intellect.

He is grateful for his post at Tufts for allowing him the opportunity to engage with a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff with curious and open minds.

Shua Khan Arshad- Muslim Facilitator

Shua Khan Arshad is an Adjunct Professor at Merrimack College, N. Andover, MA, USA. An Associate at the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations, at Merrimack College as well. She is a Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM) Executive Board Member and was the President of Groton Interfaith Council (GIC) for five years. She has lived in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United States of America. Mrs. Shua Arshad speaks frequently on Intercultural & Interfaith panels, forums and conducts events on Interfaith & intercultural understanding. Ms. Arshad is the founder and host of a podcast called "Light Up with Shua,” on conscious living and parenting. She has been a consultant for International Programs and Partnerships at Tufts University, MA.
Ms. Arshad received her degrees from Rutgers State University for a B.A. in Journalism and Media Studies and did her M.A. from Lesley University in Intercultural Relations, Cambridge, MA.

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman- Jewish Facilitator

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman serves as the Director of Professional Development at Hebrew College in Newton, Mass., where she works with clergy students on internships and career choices, and teaches on spirituality & social justice. Her leadership in the climate movement has included speaking and writing widely in the Jewish community and beyond on spiritual resilience; organizing the largest act of civil disobedience by interfaith clergy in Massachusetts history to protest the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline; serving on the leadership team of the Mass Interfaith Coalition for Climate Action which successfully advocated for robust wind development off the shores of the Commonwealth; and co-writing the climate anthem The Tide Is Rising with her husband, Yotam Schachter. Her chapter The Ground Beneath Our Feet is included in the new book, Rooted & Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis. Rabbi Shoshana is currently a member of a Giving Circle for Sunrise Movement, and is involved in the launch of Dayenu: A Jewish Call for Climate Action. You can read her blog Beloved On The Earth: Honest Reflections from a Beautiful and Unsafe World at She is a recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the Henry David Thoreau Scholarship, and is an alumna of Hebrew College, JOIN for Justice, and Oberlin College. She lives in Roslindale with Yotam, their toddler son Abraham, and dog Lulu.

The Rev’d Adekunle Ogunseye (Kunle)- Christian Facilitator

Adekunle is a Harvard Divinity School Alumni Ambassador. He served as a member of Harvard University Council of Student Sustainability Leaders (2012-2014). He represented Harvard University at MIT for Environmental Sustainability Pact execution in October 2013. He was a member of Harvard Divinity School Waste Audit team in 2013, during which HDS emerged overall best at Harvard Green House Gases reduction goals. In 2014, Adekunle offered strategic options for Sustainable Transportation in Harvard University Sustainability Plan and he recommended strategies for upgrading Harvard University-wide bike racks and cycle tracks improvement. His commitment to environmental sustainability enlisted him as a member of Green Carpet Award Selection Committee of Harvard Office for Sustainability in 2013. He is passionate about Interfaith Caregiving and environmental sustainability. He is an Anglican priest, affiliated to Anglican Church in North America, American Academy of Religion and the United States Institute of Peace. Currently, he is the rector of Anglican Church of the Epiphany Inc., Cambridge Massachusetts.


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