Letter to Friends of the International Interfaith Centre – November 2008
This letter brings a heartfelt thank you for your continued support of our work from the trustees and patrons of the International Interfaith Centre. We are extremely grateful for your generosity. We continue much as last year with a virtual office and Sandy Bharat answering emails. Please note at the bottom of this page that there is a change in our postal address. There is an additional website, www.interfaithorganisations.net, which will keep you up to date with the activities of IION member organisations and give you news of significant global interfaith initiatives. We are particularly grateful for Margaret Paton’s help with setting this up.
The main thrust of our work this year has been to maintain and continue the International Interfaith Organisations Network (IION) and their meeting held in October in India. We are pleased to enclose for your interest a copy of the updated leaflet we have produced giving a brief description of the member organisations. The IIC was represented in India by our chairman Charanjit Ajit Singh and by Marcus Braybrooke. Marcus’ report of this event forms the greater part of this newsletter.
We hope that IIC will be well represented at the next Parliament of World Religions to be held in Melbourne in December 2009. We would particularly like to help some young people to attend and would be very grateful for donations to help make this possible. Full details of the Parliament can be found at (Full details from www.parliamentofreligions.org)
International Interfaith Organisations Network (IION) Meeting 2008
The 2008 meeting of representatives of International Interfaith Organisations (IION) was held in India from October 4th-7th at the Renewal Centre, Azad Road, Kochi (Cochin), Kerala, in conjunction with the Assembly of the World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils (WFIRC), which is a member of IION.
IION participants shared in the public and plenary sessions of WIFRC and also in prayer times. Marcus gave the keynote address at the Opening session of WFIRC. (Details are on the website) Sharing in the WIFRC meeting gave IION participants the opportunity to learn about the great variety of interfaith work in many parts of India. It was also a chance to make those active in India more aware of the role of international bodies.
IION participants met by themselves for some of the meals and during sessions designated as workshops. The IION meeting began with a time of introductions in which participants also talked about the work of their organisations.
Interfaith Work at the United Nations (UN)
IION participants were grateful for and encouraged by reports of interfaith activity at the UN, which had been sent by Sister Joan Kirby and Dr Gerardo Gonzales (Copies are on the website www.interfaithorganisations.net ).
They expressed their support for the Proposal for a Decade of Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace, which is already supported by several IION member organisations. It was hoped that other IION member organisations would add their support and that all IION member organisations would encourage support from their members in countries around the world and indicate to governments that there is widespread support for this initiative.
The Parliament of World Religions
Plans for the Parliament of World Religions, which is to be held at Melbourne, Australia, from December 3rd-9th, 2009, were explained to the IION group, which was encouraged and impressed by the progress already made.
IION member organisations were urged to encourage awareness of and attendance at this important event. They could arrange a pre-Parliament event and try to ensure that local interfaith groups feel involved, even if no one from them can actually attend. Considerable attention is being paid by CPWR to ensuring wide reporting of the event and multi-media access. It was hoped that IION member organisations might sponsor and pay for some young people and others who would not be able to pay for themselves. The Parliament aims to be as widely representative as possible. (Full details from www.parliamentofreligions.org)
It was hoped that CPWR would ensure that on-going interfaith activity and organizations in different parts of the world is highlighted at the Parliament and that there would be ways of showing that the various interfaith organisations are working in partnership.
Future IION meetings
No future meeting was planned, although there will be opportunities to reconnect at Melbourne. It may be possible to arrange a get-together during one of the early evening Open Space Times. The International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) will be holding its next Congress in 2010 and would welcome participants from other interfaith organisations.
The group discussed the rapidly changing landscape of interfaith relations. Some IION member organisations are already working closely together – for example in New York. There are also several new interfaith bodies, such as the Blair Foundation and initiatives of several countries in the Middle East. It may be that new structures are required.
Many thanks for your support which has made the past possible, including meetings, but now provides networking and education via the websites in particular.
David Storey – Treasurer