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Maria Celina Conte, director of the Summit of the Americas Secretariat, told me tonight at St. Paul’s Commons, Echo Park that she and her Washington-based team have been in the thick of planning the ninth summit for the last year and a half. When we exchanged business cards, she reached into her briefcase and came up with a fistful she’s collected just in the last few days. The culmination of their work begins tomorrow, when President and Dr. Biden welcome their hemispheric counterparts to Los Angeles.

With the Interreligious Council of Southern California, we were co-hosts tonight of the opening reception of a week-long interreligious forum, running concurrently with the summit at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, exploring how faith leaders can bolster economic and political stability and advocate for immigration justice and solutions to dilemmas such as climate change and future public health crises. Conte is a Johns Hopkins-trained international public policy specialist, and it showed tonight during her keynote address, which touched on these and many other issues.

I was along to offer the opening prayer. Canon for Common Life Bob Williams, longtime interfaith leader, helped plan tonight’s event together with Larry Eastland, president of the John A. Widstoe Foundation. Too many ecumenical and interfaith friends and colleagues to mention were gathered in one place this Monday after the Pentecost. So I’ll single out some special guests: Archbishop Julio E. Murray of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America (IARCA); famed Georgetown religion scholar Katherine Marshall; and Archbishop Iosif L. Bosch, primate in South America of the Greek Orthodox Church.