Monday, January 31, 2011

WCC NEWS: Interfaith Harmony Week to be celebrated

World Council of Churches - News


For immediate release: 31 January 2011

The annual observation of a world-wide Interfaith Harmony Week has been
scheduled for the first seven days of February beginning in 2011. One of the
groups that has endorsed the initiative was a global consultation of Muslim
and Christian organizations addressing the topic "Transforming Communities"
in November 2010. The consultation was convened at the Ecumenical Centre in
Geneva and was jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the
World Islamic Call Society and A Common Word.

In his opening speech of the meeting in Geneva on 4 November, Jordanian
Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad bin Talal invited participating organizations to
become involved in the UN-supported Interfaith Harmony Week.

The prince observed that "His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein
proposed before the United Nations General Assembly the establishment of a
World Interfaith Harmony Week." On 20 October, the UN General Assembly
unanimously approved the resolution and adopted the first week of February
as Interfaith Harmony Week. Prince Ghazi described the concept as "an idea
which epitomizes the best of what this conference is striving to do."

The Transforming Communities conference members agreed to support and commit
themselves to promote the initiative.

The goal of the interfaith week, which is to be celebrated each year in
February, is to recognize "the imperative need for dialogue among different
faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and
cooperation among people," according to the UN resolution, which is posted
on the World Interfaith Harmony Week website (Link: ).

"This is an important time for all of us involved in interfaith dialogue,"
said the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of
Churches. "By recognizing this week in our faith communities through prayer,
public statements and other expressions we will move toward promoting
inter-religious and intercultural dialogue."

"This is vital in times when there are many who seek to divide people of
faith instead of finding ways to enhance our lives together through the
elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination," he said in
comments on Monday.

The effort has received wide-spread support including endorsements from
religious and political leaders around the world.

Events being held around the world include interfaith luncheons in
Australia, prayers for peace and bell ringing in Austria, inter-religious
seminars in Pakistan, and an interfaith breakfast in Canada with Catholic,
Jewish, Muslim, Lutheran and Hindu leaders.

"We invite the member churches of the WCC to celebrate this week of
interfaith harmony by reaching out to people of other faiths in their
communities and thus showing the love of God and love of neighbour, the
primary themes of the week," Tveit said.

World Interfaith Harmony Week website (Link: )

More information on the Transforming Communities conference
(Link: )

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and
service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches
founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox,
Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in
over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.
The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran]
Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.


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