ONE YEAR ON: REMEMBERING OUR FOUNDER, LELAND STEWART
On March 10, 2018, at 2,30pm, Reverend Leland P. Stewart, Founder and central coordinator of Unity and Diversity World Council, passed away at Marina Del Rey Hospital surrounded by friends and loved ones.
He was 90.
In his passing, Stephen Longfellow Fiske, Executive Director of Unity and Diversity World Council paid tribute to Leland, writing: “Leland was a pioneer in the Interfaith movement and for more than 50 years helped make Interfaith a term that we are all familiar with. He saw the unity underlying the rich diversity of all existence and devoted his life to the understanding that all religions derive their spiritual sustenance from the one mysterious source of all creation. He was a visionary leader, standing not only for the interfaith movement, but for peace, justice and the building of a sustainable future for us all. His legacy remains strong and he will always be remembered and respected for his dedication and commitment. His spirit, now liberated from earthly constraints, lives on in our hearts, and as a beacon of light showing the way through a troubled world.”
As his legacy continues on, UDC pays homage to Leland in this two-part series…
LELAND PERRY STEWART
1928 – 2018
Here are some of the significant words of Leland and they are taken from his book World Scriptures Volume 2.
To most people within one of the historic religious traditions the world ‘scripture’ means their own central religious document or documents. Until the present time there has been so little interpretation of religions that the majority of people still think their religion is the only one of great importance for today. In order to get an adequate idea of the meaning of the term ‘scripture’ we must first look at religion more broadly. A very large volume of great religious literature that has been written since the beginning of recorded history should be opened to consideration once again.
In the emerging global community, regardless of what faith individuals profess, and including those of no official faith, there is a need for being exposed to all faiths, so that mutual respect is made possible. In other words, the basis of scripture is now shifting from that of one religion alone to the coming together of all faiths. In addition, there are those teachings which are arising from the new circumstances of our time: the rise of science, technology, and democracy.
The next step in the evolution in relation to planet earth is the establishing of a global civilization that will serve the well-being of all.
The United Nations has a very important role to play in this evolution as it most of all seeks to bring the nations of the world together in dialog and cooperation. (Unity-and-Diversity was originally formed to develop the ideals and activities undertaken by six member organizations during International Cooperation Year 1965, voted into being by the General Assembly of the United Nations for non-governmental organizations. Its intergroup work continues to expand and to move toward becoming a “Peoples United Nations”)
There is another aspect to this global transformation, which is the role that the peoples of the world play. This, too, must have its own guidelines and way of getting itself together. Regardless of what religion a person follows, there is a need to know about the others and what they teach. The existing religions and spiritual movements each have their communities, and it is essential that they serve these communities. But who serves the universal community? These two levels of faith are not mutually exclusive. Both are important, and one can easily be part of both . We can and must learn from the past, and yet life would be incomplete if we did not adequately provide for the present and the future. Modern science will have its role to play in shaping these scriptures as well as religions. There are guidelines for the universal community as well as for the individual faiths. There are the people whose faith relates to the harmonizing of all faiths, rather than to the identification with any one faith. These are the people who are likely to have the most to contribute to the building of the Universal community.
In line with these new dimensions of life, the Unity-and-Diversity World Council has taken responsibility for helping to create the new forms of scripture which will provide guidance for the emerging global civilization.
The goal of achieving “unity-and-diversity among all people and all life” is an idea whose time has come. It derives from the fact that the emerging global civilization is based upon pluralism, which means that there are many races, religions, cultures and organizations all needing to be included within a new and worldwide synthesis. No longer will any one religion or ideology be the dominant teaching or organization that controls the direction of modern life. Rather, there will be more and more acceptance of diversity among these paths, but at the same time an increasing degree of cooperation and mutual support.
e pluribus unum
Rev. Mary A. Mann, Ph.D., was born in Australia and is descended from early Queensland pioneers. Her father was an original ANZAC, a member of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps who fought on the Gallipoli Peninsular in 1915. Mary is a graduate of the University of Sydney, the University of California in Berkeley and the University of Southern California where she secured her Ph.D. in Communications and Theatre.
Her working career was in accounting where she became a Qualified Accountant in Australia and was the first Controller of the Pacifica Foundation in the 1970s.
Her academic career centered around her passion for finding out ‘why war’. Her first book on this topic, Anzac to Understanding included her father’s war letters and a social commentary on the global situation from the beginning of the First World War through the 20th century and it included the epic play ANZAC. The philosophy culminated in the book There Are No Enemies, a practical philosophy of life, which includes The Right of the Womb. Her theatre studies culminated in The Construction of Tragedy, Aristotle today in the theatre and she edited two editions of The Los Angeles Theatre Book, 1978 and 1984.
Mary has been a member of Unity- and- Diversity since 1989 where she is now the Board Chair and co-edited the book Science and Spirituality with the founder of that organization. Rev. Leland Stewart.
She joined the Synthaxis Theatre Company in 1979. Her creative work includes Poems of Woman, editor of Mentoring Poems, four centuries of selected poetry, Tortoise Shell, taken from a journal of her great-grandfather documenting life in the early days of the State of Queensland, Australia, and under the aegis of Synthaxis, plays for youth and family audiences, Maria and the Comet and The Round Table, published as TWO FAMILY PLAYSand ThuGun and Natasha, a drama with rap, moving beyond guns and violence .
In North Hollywood, she is the co-host of Unbuckled No-Ho Poetry, a monthly poetry reading series since 2010, which you can view here:youtube.com/unbucklednohopoetry
Mary has been presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who