As the Bush administration seeks to expand the role that religious and community organizations play in government assistance programs, two Southland universities are planning conferences exploring the effects of faith on public policy.
Pepperdine University will host a conference Thursday exploring how faith has fueled the political contributions of central players in the nation's history. Speakers will include Clyde W. Oden Jr., president of Watts Health Systems Inc., who will discuss the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Frank Shakespeare, former ambassador to Portugal and the Holy See, who will discuss ex-President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.
William E. Simon Jr., a Los Angeles philanthropist and executive director of William E. Simon & Sons, will also speak on "Why America Needs Religion: The Founders, Faith and the American Experiment."
The conference, sponsored by Pepperdine's School of Public Policy, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campus, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. (310) 506-4138.
USC will host a forum April 2 on White House plans to expand religious involvement in federally funded social service programs. The forum, sponsored by the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, USC Civic and Community Relations and the California Council of Churches, will also examine faith-based initiatives underway in welfare-to-work programs.
Panelists will include the Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray of First AME Church, the Rev. Kathy Cooper-Ledesma of the council of churches, the Rev. Msgr. Gregory A. Cox of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Fred Blum of the American Jewish Congress, and Jessie Miranda of Vanguard University, who is an advisor to President Bush's new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
The forum will be held from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Davidson Conference Center at Figueroa Street and Jefferson Boulevard. The registration fee is $15. (213) 740-8562.
A workshop on "Living Mindfully: Zen, Christianity & Art" will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today by Mary Ann Wixted at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Road, Encino. Participants will have the opportunity to explore aspects of Zen practices and draw a personal meditation mantra. The center will also offer a Lenten day of contemplation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, the feast of St. Benedict, using Lectio Divina and Taize prayer. (818) 784-4515.
* Carolyn Myss, healer and author of "Anatomy of the Spirit," will speak on "The Challenge of Becoming Conscious: Facing our Dark Side" at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Philosophical Research Society, 3910 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles. A buffet luncheon will be followed by a dialogue with Myss at 2:30 p.m. The suggested donation is $10 for the lecture, $5 for lunch and $20 for the dialogue. (323) 663-2167.
* ZOE Christian Fellowship of Whittier will offer a "Faith Walk Leadership Seminar" from 8:30 a.m. to noon Thursday at the church, 10252 Mills Ave., Whittier. Ken Blanchard, a business consultant and author of "The One-Minute Manager," will speak on the power of "servant leadership." The fee is $45. The fellowship will also offer an entrepreneurial workshop and luncheon March 24. That fee is $50. (562) 906-5000, Ext. 328.
* A retreat for Jewish men seeking a spiritual Shabbat will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today at Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange. The second annual "Gathering of Jewish Men" will explore how to manage anger, conduct intergenerational relationships and learn from men's lives in biblical stories and other Jewish sources. Rabbi Moshe Halfon of Am Or Olam in Long Beach will lead the retreat. (818) 341-4144.
* Meditative walks in a labyrinth are scheduled at two Southland churches Sunday. Altadena Community Church, 943 E. Altadena Drive in Altadena, will open its labyrinth from 7 to 9 p.m. (626) 798-1185. First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th St. in Santa Monica, will offer its portable canvas labyrinth, modeled on the Chartres labyrinth in France, from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. (310) 393-8258.
* A Festival of Jewish Learning today will feature more than 25 Southland rabbis leading workshops on a range of topics, including social justice, the afterlife, Jewish politics in Los Angeles, the study of Kabbalah and a Talmudic discussion of evil. The opening session, "Looking into the Crystal Ball: Where Will We Be in the Year 2010?" will feature Rabbis Harvey Fields of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Harold Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom and Steven Weil of Beth Jacob Congregation. The festival, co-sponsored by the University of Judaism and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the university, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel-Air. (310) 440-1246.