This week, in the city of Atlanta, Auburn Theological Seminary is hosting its biennial “convening of faith and moral leaders.” The event is called “MountainTop” and is described as a summit that “advances a multifaith movement for justice.” In 2013, we reported on the last summit, held in Nashville. In that article, we featured a conversation with Aline (Macha) O’Brien, who was one of the four Pagan participants at that year’s event.For the 2015 conference, I was able to sit down live with a group of six women, during their lunch hour, to talk about the process of MountainTop. The event began Monday morning, June 8, and will continue through Wednesday.
Last week I posted an article highlighting the MountainTop Summit, a multifaith conference that took place over three days in mid-June. Uniquely structured, the conference employed digital technology in order to facilitate meaningful dialog among the participants. Pagan Priestess and Witch, Aline “Macha” O’Brien was on hand to experience this inaugural event and to offer a Pagan perspective. The event’s title was “MountainTop Summit: Advancing a Multifaith Movement for Justice.” Its primary focus was to “explore developing an expanded blueprint” for this social movement. Erin White of Auburn Theological Seminary writes:
A coordinated and energetic multifaith movement for justice reinforces a shared commitment to breaking down silos, reaching across religious lines, and amplifying a faith perspective across movements — such as the environment, poverty and human rights — as well as across age, race and sexual orientation. Forging a connected path driven by justice strengthens all movements and lifts us all toward fairness and a healed world. It is becoming increasingly common for multifaith and interfaith efforts to focus on broader social causes. In a recent article for The Interfaith Observer, Grove Harris wrote:
Faith-based efforts towards peace, social justice, and eradication of hunger and poverty are directly in line with U.N. objectives…In my opinion, the U.N. needs religious groups to increase their activity and apply more pressure. Above my desk is Margaret Mead’s famous quote – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
At all levels, organizations are identifying the beneficial role that multifaith cooperation can have in social justice, environmental activism and other similar efforts. MountainTop is an example of one conference’s efforts to facilitate this progressive movement.
Returning to my interview, one of the main reasons for Macha’s eagerness to attend MountainTop was its “collaborative efforts towards social, economic and environmental justice among different religions.” In the second part of our interview, she shares her observations on this topic as well as the personal affects that the entire experience had her own life – both professionally and personally.
On June 17, 2013, religious leaders from around the country met in Nashville, Tennessee at the very first MountainTop Summit. Held at the Vanderbilt Center for Better Health, the three-day event “uniquely focused on exploring the shape and priorities of this nation’s multifaith movement for justice in the 21st century.” MountainTop was founded and presented by Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School, Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, Imaginal Labs and Synthesis Corps. In a press release, they explain:
“In sessions designed to discuss organizing, collaboration and new media, among other topics, the summit [equipped] leaders with the tools, methodologies, and relationships to inform their work on a range of issues — from immigration to marriage equality.”
MountainTop was attended by over 80 participants who are “working in the sectors of education, media, research, community organizing, arts, and culture [and] whose work is rooted in their faith and values.”
In attendance at this unique and progressive event was Aline “Macha” O’Brien known to many as M. Macha Nightmare. In February, she was invited to attend the event by way of friends and her association with Auburn Theological Seminary. Macha said, “anything that would foster collaborative efforts towards social, economic and environmental justice among different religions was something I’d like to participate in.” So on June 17th, she packed up her bags and headed for Nashville. I had the pleasure and the opportunity to speak with Macha about her experience at MountainTop.