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Summer Course on “Interfaith Relations: Contributing to Make Change in the Life” 1-12 May 2017
May 1 @ 9:00 am - May 12 @ 4:00 pm
Summer Course on
“Interfaith Relations: Contributing to Make Change in the Life”
1-12 May 2017
Religion has been increasingly branded as a source of tensions and misunderstandings within communities in pluralistic societies. In a globalised world in which media, political movements, and various other actors can influence the public opinion about the role of religion, having a better understanding of the different religious beliefs and traditions is essential. Since each religion is embedded in a social context, stereotypes, prejudices and faith-based discrimination are serious issues to be dealt with. Hence, dialogue between different religious stakeholders appears to be an effective way to raise awareness about these problems. Moreover, by bringing people closer and erasing these religious labels, the different communities can join hands and work together towards common goals. In the last decades, the Henry Martyn Institute has been promoting different approaches to interfaith relations. As part of its work, the 46th summer course which took place from 1st– 12th May 2017 within its premises, specifically focused on the ways in which interfaith relations can contribute to “make change in the life”. The methodology used was divided into four activities. The day started with scriptures reading, followed by different courses related to religion and social issues, it then ended with a group discussion involving the different partakers. Finally, the sport time was also intended to facilitate friendly encounters.
- Raise awareness about the relevance and the growing need for interfaith dialogue.
- Redefine Otherness and our relation to this Other in a dialogical way by providing the participants with a broader picture of other faith traditions.
- Allow the partakers to gain a deeper understanding of their own faith and to critically reflect on certain religious set of beliefs and theological arguments
- Contextualise scriptures in the light of social issues and interfaith dialogue.
- Provide the required tools to address societal issues such as social, legal, environmental, religious, and gender ones.
- Create a peaceful environment for a better society.
This course, opened to theological students, seminaries but also those interested in interfaith dialogue, was divided into four different activities.
- Scriptures reading: Using resources from various faiths, these moments of prayer and discussions, marked the start of each day by challenging the participants to personally reflect on different social and environmental issues.
- Classes: Both scholars and practitioners provided the participants with insights about specific topics. In a world where religion has contributed to create a dichotomy between in-group and out-group members, the classes have provided knowledge and understanding about other faiths so that they are able to include them in their practical work.
- Group discussion: This activity was designed to give the opportunity to summarise the different material covered but to especially encourage a deeper personal reflection. Coming from different cultural and religious background, the partakers have been able to share their views and challenge each other from an interreligious perspective.
- Sport/Free Time: Aimed at allowing people to spend time together in order to create long lasting relationships irrespective of their religious affiliation.
Ultimately, through this course, it has become quite evident that limiting ourselves to our own faith traditions, does not grant us the ability to address social, religious, economic, cultural and gender issues. Quite the contrary, by being rooted in our own faith but by also creating space for other religions, one would most likely deepen its own spiritual understanding. As it has been stimulated in the scripture reading time, we should learn to respect, understand, and keep on developing relationships with our brothers and sisters in humanity. Indeed, the partakers have become agents to promote and implement interfaith dialogue within their social group and community. Likewise, this publication is a blue print so that other programmes can be built on the same basis. It should also inspire other similar initiatives beyond the Henry Martyn Institute. Thus, interfaith dialogue seems to be a great way to regenerate and develop our spirituality without compromising our religious beliefs.
Click for complete Summer Course 2017 report:Summer Course 2017 Report