Letter to Friends of the International Interfaith Centre – July 2007

Dear Friend,

Nearly a year has elapsed since you last received a newsletter from the IIC and it is well past time that you should be updated. The fact is that there has been a lot of change and it has taken much effort on the part of the trustees to keep things together and move forward.

Patiala Conference

You will remember from our last letter that Dr Joy Barrow, our then Director, was much involved in a joint Interfaith Conference in co-operation with Punjabi University that took place in March this year. Below is her report of this successful event:

“I was invited to give the Keynote Lecture for the conference, and requested to do so from the Sikh perspective. The title of my paper was: ‘Faith or Interfaith, are they mutually exclusive: a reflection from the Sikh perspective’. Before I gave the paper I read a letter of greeting to the Vice Chancellor and conference participants from Charanjit. There were a total of twenty-one papers presented with scholars from: USA, Canada, India, Bangladesh, Germany, Wales and England. The presenters also came from a variety of different faiths, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism. The papers of the conference will be published in a book, jointly edited by Prof Dharam Singh and myself, which will be published by Punjabi University. It was significant that the Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University was present for both the opening and closing sessions in their entirety, and attended the evening meal on each day of the conference, his wife accompanying him on the final evening. Such was the success of the conference that the Vice Chancellor has announced that he will give financial support to the University organising an annual interfaith conference to be held in Patiala. He invited me to be a member of a council of ‘wise men’ from different countries that he was establishing to organise subsequent conferences.”

IIC Office at 2 Market Street

Sadly the office, which has been the home of IIC since it began in 1993, has had to be given up due to changed circumstances of the IARF with whom we shared the space. With Joy’s major work being the continuance of research on Interfaith Studies, the trustees felt it best, for the time being, that she should continue this from her home. Consequently the office was cleared and all remaining archives stored in the garage of David and Celia Storey at their home in Hampshire. For the time being the IIC address remains the same, 2 Market Street, Oxford GU32 2DD. All mail is being forwarded from there. There is a problem with the telephone at present and all messages are best put in writing. E-mail also has been giving us problems and it is hoped you have not been amongst the many that have not been able to get through. Hopefully this has now been fixed.

The Director

On top of the problem of loosing the office, we also failed to get a government grant which would have made it possible for Joy to work on an educational project. She gave in her notice at the end of April. The trustees are grateful for the work she had done on our behalf.

The Future of IIC

There is a future for IIC so please do not think all has ended. The trustees are determined there is still work for us to do. The following are those areas in which we hope to continue working.

International Interfaith Organisations Network (IION)
IIC Bursary to support research into Interfaith Dialogue
Conferences and meetings for engagement
International Communications – an online project proposed by Sandy Bharat
Website – Education and other resources
Marcus Braybrooke and Celia Storey are taking up the cudgel of the IION and are well on their way to holding a meeting in Oxford in November this year. This important work has always been one of the main reasons for the IIC and, through the hard work of Sandy Bharat in the first place, has resulted in significant communication between the different organisations.

It is hoped to regenerate our annual lecture and Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon has agreed to give the next one. However, a new date has yet to be set for this event as it was not felt we had the human resources to put it on at the present time.

Thank you

Finally we would like to send a big ‘thank you’ to those of you who have so generously continued to send regular donations to the IIC. Without you we would not be here now. Please stay with us; we feel there is still work for us to do. It is only a matter of realigning and finding the best way to proceed.

With best wishes from the Trustees and Patrons all of whom are actively involved,

Charanjit Ajit Singh (Chair to the Trustees)