Finding God in the City of Angels: Film Excerpts and Discussion

Moderated by Jim Burklo
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Episode Summary
Filmmakers Jessum and Joseph explore the meaning and value of inter-faith dialogue with selected representatives of the more than 40 devotional communities in Los Angeles profiled in their award-winning new documentary.

Participant(s) Bio
Jim Burklo writes and speaks about the progressive Christian movement. He served as the minister of Sausalito Presbyterian Church, Sausalito, CA, of College Heights Church of San Mateo, CA and was campus minister of United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford University. He was the organizer and executive director of the Urban Ministry of Palo Alto. Currently, he is the Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California.

Cindi Moar Alvitre (Tongva) has been a cultural/environmental educator for over three decades. She is descendant from the Tongva, the original inhabitants of Los Angeles & Orange Counties. In 1985, she co-founded Mother Earth Clan, a collective of Indian women who created a model for cultural and environmental education. In the late 1980s, she co-founded Ti'at Society renewing the maritime culture of the Tongva. Cindi is currently a PhD candidate at UCLA, Department of World Arts and Culture. As a social-political activist she has represented her community domestically and internationally.

Jennifer Jessum is an award winning director, choreographer and producer. She holds an M.F.A., in film production, from USC's School of Cinema/Television and an M.F.A., in dance, from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She has produced and directed numerous short films, music videos, and commercials and has had her choreography and films commissioned and presented throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. She is currently finishing up post-production on her 2nd feature documentary, Holy Man, narrated by Martin Sheen.

Simon Joseph (Writer/Producer) holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Claremont Graduate University and a master's degree in Religious Studies from New York University. He is the author of a volume for the Documenta Q series for the International Q project, under the auspices of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, and has also been published by the Journal for the Study of Historical Jesus, New Testament Studies and History of Religions. His research interests and expertise include the study of the New Testament, Christian origins and the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as Native American religion and history, in particular Lakota (Sioux) religion and culture. His second feature documentary film, Holy Man, is in post production and is narrated by Martin Sheen.

Rabbi Laura Geller is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, California, the first woman to be selected to lead a major metropolitan synagogue. A former Trustee on the Board of Brown University, and the founding Chair of the Beverly Hills Human Relations Commission, she has received many honors, including the Woman of the Year Award from the California State Legislature. Rabbi Geller has written chapters in many books and newspapers and has been featured in several others, including the PBS documentary The Jewish Americans, and she was recently named as one of the fifty most influential women rabbis in America by the Forward newspaper.

The Reverend Canon Dr. Gwynne Guibord is the Founder and President of "The Guibord Center, Religion Inside Out" that is housed at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral. Its stated mission is "to bring people together to challenge assumptions, unleash the Holy, and affirm the faith that transforms the world." She is also the Consultant for Interfaith Relations for the Episcopal Church in the United States. Dr. Guibord co-chairs The National Muslim - Christian Initiative Dialogue on behalf of The National Council of Churches in Christ USA and also represents the Episcopal Church for the NCC's Christian-Jewish Dialogue.

Imam Jihad Turk is the Director of Religious Affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California. In addition to serving the religious needs of his community, he focuses much of his attention on interfaith work, including an annual interfaith 9/11 memorial which is held at the Islamic Center. He also currently serves as President of the Wilshire Center Interfaith Council, which sponsors an annual interfaith trip to the Holy Land. Additionally, Turk serves as the Vice President of the Interreligious Council of Southern California, and, together with Gwynne Guibord, an Episcopal Priest, Turk founded and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group, comprised of major Christian and Muslim denominations and organizations intent on understanding each other and working together on common goals.

Funding for this film was made possible by the Institute for Signifying Scriptures.

ALOUD at Central Library's Interfaith Series is made possible by the generous support of the Righteous Persons Foundation.