Ecumenical inter faith work

The ecumenical journey has prepared the churches for ministry and mission in the inter-faith context. Arguments for an ecumenical approach to inter-faith work include: 

  • Inter-faith groups, particularly local ones, are sometimes initiated and usually sustained by people from a variety of Christian traditions, often operating together 
  • Skills and experience developed through ecumenical work give Christians confidence to move into inter-faith contexts. Examples include listening skills, discernment of the significance of rituals, festivals and stories. 
  • Ecumenical participation has led to a growing conviction that it is worthwhile to seek the challenge of articulating the faith to those for whom it is other 
  • Christians from their ecumenical experience bring a valuation of relationships as foundational 
  • Other faiths have made use of expertise provided by CTE in areas such as education 
  • Theologically, it is God's universal intent to reconcile everything in Christ. So, inter-faith work is an aspect of God's mission.

(This information is adapted from Moving Together: A review of the Ecumenical Journey in England, 1997-2007, a personal perspective by David Spriggs.)
 

The British Methodist Church

The priorities of the Methodist Church state that wherever possible the Methodist Church will work in partnership. This page focuses upon the ecumenical organisations with which the Methodist collaborates in its inter-faith work. 

For enquiries about use of Methodist Model Trust premises by faith groups other than Christian refer to the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Over the past 25 years or so, churches have been involved in a range of inter faith activity. This has included showing hospitality to minority communities, standing alongside other faiths in times of crisis and developing dialogue with one or more religions. It has also involved raising awareness of religious plurality through theological colleges, supporting the National Association of Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (NASACRE), and a range of national and international church-based inter faith work.

The letter A Common Word, addressed to Christian leaders around the world, and signed by 138 Muslim scholars, is an important contribution to Christian-Muslim relations and dialogue. Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has produced a publication that will be a resource for churches and individuals who wish to explore these issues more deeply and who wish take the opportunity the letter affords to develop local inter faith relations. This publication gives the background to the letter, offers a commentary on the issues that lie behind it and suggests resources for further reading and activity. 

Visit the Interfaith pages on CTBI's website for more information.

Churches Together in England

In 2006 CTE appointed a part-time Executive Officer for Inter Faith Relations. This was in response to the desire of the Churches, expressed through the Churches Together in England Enabling Group, both that the overall capacity for inter faith relations be increased and that the support of intermediate bodies and local churches be augmented. CTE understands the common confession of Jesus as Lord to define the boundaries of ecumenism and so differentiates ecumenism from conversations about faith in general.

CTE seeks to encourage Christians - 

  • to work for understanding between people of faith 
  • to learn about the beliefs and practices of different religions 
  • to be equipped to talk about their own faith.

For more information visit the Inter faith pages on CTE's website. CTE's Operating Principles are a good place to start.

 

Through sharing in ecumenical encounters, whether of worship, dialogue or service, most of us discover that God may surprise us by being present beyond the boundaries we had drawn. The presence of God we would affirm is present throughout his creation, but discovering he is there to greet us is a powerful experience and one which can propel us more enthusiastically into the inter-faith contexts as well.

From Moving Together by David Spriggs

 

Interfaith Scotland

Interfaith Scotland aims to promote good relations between people of different faiths in Scotland by: 

  • Making Christians aware of the presence, beliefs and practices of the faith communities around them 
  • Encouraging mutual respect and appreciation 
  • Promoting inter faith dialogue 
  • Helping all to benefit from the riches to be found in all religious traditions

CAIRing for Scotland

CAIRing for Scotland, the churches contribution to interfaith relations in Scotland has been published as a digital download by Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS).

It tells the story of the Churches Agency for Interfaith Relations (CAIRS) which for 14 years was dedicated to developing the work of interfaith relations among Christians in Scotland.

Although CAIRS was disbanded, because much of its work appeared to be duplicated elsewhere, this publication records and celebrates the significant contribution made by many Christians to interfaith work.

Download CAIRing for Scotland, the churches contribution to interfaith relations in Scotland  from the ACTS website.
 

Council of Christians and Jews

The Council of Christians and Jews is Britain's oldest national inter Faith organisation. It was established in 1942 to (1) promote; religious and cultural understanding between Christians and Jews (2), to work for the elimination of religious and racial prejudice, hatred and discrimination, particularly anti-Semitism and (3), to promote religious and racial harmony on the basis of ethical and social teachings common to Christianity and Judaism.

Today this is still the main thrust of their work. However the Britain of the early 21st Century is very different demographically and in its faith mix from the mid 20th Century. CCJ has responded to these changes in that whilst its emphasis is still on the Christian - Jewish dynamic; it works within a multi faith context and will have interface with Muslims and Hindus, for example, as part of its practical project work.

Christian Muslim Forum

The Christian Muslim Forum is built on friendship between a group of Christians and Muslims, showing how faith is a catalyst for good relationships and welcomes the 'other'. This friendship began with a small group of Muslims and Christians working on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Initiative in Christian-Muslim Relations. This grew from Archbishop Carey's comments in 1997, "For the sake of the health of this country, we need to find ways in which members of our two communities can meet regularly together in a more structured way than has been possible up to now." His remarks were received warmly and positively by leaders of the Muslim community, leading to the Initiative's Listening Exercise between 2002 and 2004.

The Christian Muslim Forum is made up of members of the Muslim and Christian communities - Sunni, Shi'a, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist and Coptic Orthodox - and includes various traditions, Evangelicals, Deobandis, Barelwis, Sufis. We believe that:

  • the time is right for Christians and Muslims to develop strong and committed relationships 
  • we can work together for the benefit of both faith communities and wider society 
  • faith is a resource for peace, conflict resolution, understanding and the valuing of all human beings 
  • friendship between people of different faiths is encouraged by our traditions

Conference of European Churches - Committee for Relations with Muslims in Europe

The Committee for Relations with Muslims in Europe (CRME) was jointly set up by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) to help the European churches identify and reflect upon the new challenges for the dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Europe. It is made up of members, consultants and observers. The committee has a four-year mandate and meets twice a year. It follows a similar working group "Islam in Europe" that had been founded in 1987. The following are some of the recent documents prepared by the committee.

World Council of Churches - inter-religious relations team

The World Council of Churches' project on inter-religious relations promotes contact between Christians and neighbours of other faiths primarily through multi-lateral and bi-lateral dialogue with partners of other faiths that is aimed at building trust, meeting common challenges and addressing conflictive and divisive issues.

The primary methodology of the WCC's work on inter-religious relations remains dialogue. Among the team's present foci are: 

  • multi-religious reflection on secularization, the role of religion in public life and the challenges of religious plurality
  • Christian-Jewish-Muslim dialogue on the issue of Jerusalem
  • Hindu-Christian dialogue on issues such as proselytization, religious extremism and caste
  • Christian-Muslim forum on human rights
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