Journey to Jerusalem

Photo Essay by David Sanger
Text by Bishop Bill Swing

Rabbi Yisrael Meyer Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Western Wall of the Temple of Solomon.

In June 1999, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with Bishop Bill Swing and the United Religions Initiative, sponsored a meeting in Jerusalem of thirty religious leaders, including Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. The intent of these three days of informal conversation was to be inspired and to inspire, to honor the great religions, to help encourage interfaith activities in the immediate area and to learn by listening and interacting. Three years later the Bishop reflects:

“Anytime you go out of your world, God stretches you. We [the people who went] actually did interfaith cooperation there. [But] the greatest impact is among people who heard about it—a conference of Buddhists and Christians and Jews!? with the Dalai Lama!!? in Jerusalem!!!?”
The Interreligious Friendship Group at the Holy Sepulchre, the Tomb of Jesus.

This photo essay documents that meeing. All photos are by David Sanger; the accompanying text, unless otherwise noted, is by Bishop Swing.

Metropol Daniel, Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Peace is one of the Names of God. Calling for peace is part of true religion.

  His Beatitude Archibishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch.
We asked the Armenian Patriarch for his best advice in carrying out our interreligious agenda. "I have no advice to give. I am a prisoner in my palace," he laughed. "I can't do the interfaith ministry that is needed. But you all are mobile. You do it!"
Hindu philosopher and writer Badrinath Chaturvedi with Bishop Swing.
Is revelation finished for the people of God? Or is God saying something new?
Dome of the Rock, Haram Esh-Sharif.

We heard "Jerusalem is a city that changes with the season: during Holy Week it is a Christian city, during Ramadan it is a Muslim city, during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur it is a Jewish city." There is a long history and tradition of mutual acceptance. When our prayer is pure, Jerusalem is a friend. But when the real motive behind our prayer is eviction, coercion, or dominance, then friction follows.

Palestinian children, Hebron
The final chapter in interfaith cooperation has not yet been written.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
—Psalm 122

The Right Reverend William Swing is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California and the founder of the United Religions Initiative.

David Sanger is an award-winning travel photographer and a member of St. Gregory’s. His latest project is a book, San Francisco Bay: The Estuary and Its People (

Jerusalem photography © 1999

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