Posts Tagged ‘European’

Seminar on Christian-Muslim Encounters

On the 22nd and 23rd of January 2010, myself and Rahima Caratella from the St.Philips centre attended a seminar in Paris organized by SERIC on behalf of GAIC. The main purpose of the seminar was to share and evaluate each organisations respective activity throughout 2009 inter faith week.

Although November was the UK’s first inter faith week, for some of our European counterparts this was their 9th inter faith week, focusing on Christian-Muslim encounters. There were Christian and Muslim delegates from each country which included Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland and Spain. In many cases the Christians and Muslims from each country had worked together on various inter faith projects at both local and regional levels. The gamut of activities and experiences shared by all the groups was staggering and every one of us benefited from hearing about these activities.

Each country shared a unique evaluation of inter faith week, often shaped by each country’s particular experience of Islamic and Christian relationships. It was duly noted that where the majority of Muslims in one country might be of North African origin, in another it might be Asian origin. This often meant that each of our country’s Christian and Muslim encounters might be different, our cultures often reflected in how we understand and practice our religion.

What was apparent was the desire of each community to build stronger relationships between Christians and Muslims. In discussing this we each indicated what challenges we face in achieving this goal, this included lack of funding, negative media coverage, and that some Christian-Muslim dialogue is not reaching our respective congregations.

One of the key questions asked of us was how important is it to have an interfaith week (one which focussed on Christians and Muslims) and what is specific about Christian-Muslim dialogue today. A summary of our response can be found in the following document: Christian-Muslim Inter faith Week.

It was very clear that all of our experiences of interfaith week were positive and often an extension of the work that we continue to do all year round. Some of the projects that our European colleagues were engaged with throughout interfaith week can be found on the SERIC website.

One project that I found particular joy in hearing about was initiated between a mosque in Bergen, Holland and its neighbouring church across the road. A tent was placed between the mosque and the church and lights from each place of worship guided the congregation to the tent where they were served tea. After some light refreshments each group continued to follow the lights into the other’s place of worship, where they were shown around. Incidentally, whilst Muslim and Christian were busy learning about the other’s place of worship, the tent was blown down the road and resulted in an interfaith ‘find and recover the tent’ project!

Daniel Edge

Peace Worker