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Religious Youth Service

RYS Group Attends Women and the Australian Church Conference

Sydney, Australia –  WATAC (Women and the Australian Church) organizes an annual conference each year. This year’s Conference was held from the 20th to the 22nd of July. Approximately 300 people from various ecumenical backgrounds came to this WATAC conference in Sydney. They came from all walks of life including students, missionaries and NGOs.

The keynote speaker Sister Joan Chittister spoke about the crucial need to move forward and to make things happen. And to do this, the very concepts of true prayer and what constitutes a church should be expanded to include action. Making the vision into reality demands seeing life differently and seeing something greater than ourselves. She emphasized the need for young people to be recognized as the vehicle of change since they are the future.

RYS Global Management team member, Fazida Razak was invited to share at the conference with Sister Margaret Finlay and Sister Marie Theresa (both RYS alumni).  Fazida followed up the keynote speaker by addressing new methodologies in building bridges between young people of all faiths. She said that the old methodology was to use dialogue and conference to build bridges and active participation. But that is more suitable for the older generation and may not work for youths who have more energy and are more interested in hands-on activity. She gave examples of interfaith work being done around the world that uses community service, educational visits to religious places of worship and sports as new tools to enhance engagement.

Fazida also emphasized that any organization that wants to embark on such work must first ask whether it is willing to embrace all religions because that is the basic foundation for interfaith work. She then went on to say that organizing interfaith work needs to be seen as neutral and not dominated by any one single faith. It is thus best for interfaith work to be coordinated by various groups of different faiths to establish trust and to ensure that the project will be equally shared and not be credited to one faith organization only.

July 20-22, 2007

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