world council of churches

Issue 34, February 2000


In April last year, an interfaith seminar was organized at the Ecumenical Institute Bossey, outside of Geneva. The theme of the workshop was a question: "What difference does religious plurality make?" The point of departure for the workshop was to allow perspectives to blend, opening up for a multifaith and multi-disciplinary way of looking at religious plurality.

The workshop counted among its participants, sociologists, artists, liturgists, ethicists, biblical scholars, missiologists, and historians of religion, to mention but a few of the professions or perspectives present. Although Christians were in the majority, the workshop benefited from the presence and participation of some friends of other faiths, all of them engaged in how the question of religious plurality is interpreted in their own tradition. The discussions were enriched by these perspectives and even more so through the "modus operandi" of the workshop. The participants were asked to share between themselves, in good time before the workshop, some of their thinking in relation to the question posed. We publish here their contributions. As you will see they go in many directions and address the topic in many different ways. Together they form a mosaic of how to look upon the religious plurality in which we live.

On 14-16 October 1999, Muslims and Christian from 15 countries met in Hartford, Connecticut, to discuss religious freedom, community rights and individual rights, all from a Christian-Muslim perspective. The report from this encounter is shared with you in this issue of Current Dialogue. The idea of establishing a permanent Christian-Muslim Forum on Human Rights, Religious Freedom and problems arising out of Mission/Da'wa, gained momentum. The participants in the consultation, as well as another forty of more persons, who have participated in previous meetings of the study and dialogue process, see themselves as constituents of such forum, even if there are obstacles which need to be lifted before it can be formally established.

Finally in this issue of Current Dialogue, a report from a consultation on anti-Semitism in church and society, held in Warsaw 16-19 October. This consultation brought together representatives of churches and theological institutions in the Baltic area for a first and tentative discussion on the re-emergence of anti-Semitism in society. The intention was to have a first and tentative deliberation on how to go from official church documents and statements on anti-Semitism to their practical implementation within churches and within the societies, in which the churches live and witness. The consultation was done in co-operation with the ecumenical network Theobalt, which brings together Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches in the Baltic area region for common reflection and sharing of experiences regarding their role in society.

Hans Ucko, Editor

Inside this issue of Current Dialogue . . .

Upcoming Events

Interfaith Contributions to Education for Peaceful Living
8 & 9 April 2000
Harris Manchester College, Oxford

The conference will explore issues relating to peaceful living through individual, community, country and project based dialogues, interviews and reflections. Where does peaceful living originate? Whose responsibility is it? How can it be brought about? What initiatives and practices are there to educate for peaceful living? Participants from Canada, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Germany, Israel, Nigeria and the UK will share their experiences. Organisations taking part include Neve Shalom, Sarvodaya, International Association for Religious Freedom, Northern Ireland Millennium Youth Forum, and the Global Ethic Foundation. For registration forms and further details contact the International Interfaith Centre, 2 Market Street, Oxford OX1 3EF, UK. Tel: 00 44 (0)1865 202745. Fax: (0)1856 202746 e-mail:

News in Brief

Christian-Muslim colloquium on the "Future of Religion"

This colloquium held in Geneva from 13-16 December, was co-organized with the Islamic organization for Culture and communication in Iran. This colloquium was the third in a series which provided a space for discussion with Iranian religious personalities, not just on the theme discussed but also on the many questions raised by the relationship between Iranian Muslims and Christians, both at the international and the national levels. The colloquium contributes to the on-going reflection that the WCC initiated in 1996.

Meeting of Christian Study Centers on Christian-Muslim Relations

A meeting of Christian Centers specialized in the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations was held at Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A., October 17-18. It is the second since 1996 where the WCC took the initiative of facilitating contacts and exchanges between the said centers. The meeting discussed, in concrete terms, cooperation in the areas of research, curricula, faculty and student exchange. The main outcome was to create an information coordination service, provided by the Henry Martyn Institute in Hyderabad, India, with the support of the WCC.

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