Copenhagen, Denmark - On September 6, 2008, a symposium on the topic “Family and Peace: Family Values in a Globalized World” was held in a community hall in Copenhagen. Fifty people attended the event, including representatives from several religious and ethnic groups as well as politicians. The program included four presentations, with time for questions and discussion groups.
Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, Ambassador for Peace and leading imam in Denmark representing an umbrella organization of more than 40,000 Muslims, stated that according to Islam human life starts with marriage, not as an infant. He pointed out that we do not choose our birthday, parents, birthplace, etc., but we can choose our spouse, and we choose whether to follow God’s way of life or not.
Prof. Dr. Manickam Chrandrakumar from India has a teaching and training ministry for pastors based in the USA. He travels worldwide speaking at seminars and conferences on socioeconomic development, AIDS awareness, and overcoming drug addiction and other social ills. He counsels people and seeks to bring broken families together. He is the author of several books, and at the symposium he based his talk on his excellent book Wedlock or Deadlock?
Satnam Singh, a young Sikh, gave an interesting PowerPoint presentation about the present situation of families in Denmark, along with statistics, followed by his view of what Sikhism can contribute to family values today.
Pastor Tove Fergo, a former Member of Parliament and Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, has been promoting family values for many years. She believes that parents are the best people to care for their children, without government interference. She stressed that since the 1960s, the family and family values have been under pressure, but now the government is willing to “pull the family out of the closet,” and it has become more common to talk about parents’ responsibility.
After the lunch break, there were musical performances. A group of young Sikhs performed a sacred chant for peace, and an Ambassador for Peace from Sweden, Angela Aku Tarras-Wahlberg, lifted the atmosphere with beautiful spiritual songs.
There was great appreciation for this initiative from all participants, and several of them expressed hopes for similar events to be held in the future.
Preparations for the symposium had started in April, when representatives from various religious organizations were invited for a planning meeting. The original idea was to hold a local interreligious festival focusing on family and peace. However, at the first preparatory meeting it was decided instead to hold a symposium on that theme. five preparatory meetings took place, with a few Christians and representatives from other religious groups attending each meeting. Advertisements were place in a Christian newspaper and more than 600 invitations sent out by email. Some very positive feedback was received from people who were interested but were not able to attend the event.