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Interfaith Peacebuilding

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Interfaith Programs

Siberian Forum on Interreligious Dialogue

Novosibirsk, Russia - If your faith is sincere, it makes no difference what religion you follow. A Forum on “Peace through interreligious dialogue and education” was held in Novosibirsk Dec. 2-5, 2011. Among the participants were representatives of youth and religious organizations. The goal of the event was to emphasize the importance of establishing religious dialogue and the need for cooperation among all people.

For several days the participants in the forum, who were acquainted with fundamentals of different religions, reflected on ways to cooperate and recognizing that all people are equal in the eyes of God. They spoke about practical possibilities of establishing world peace. It is so important when young people of different faiths and views come together to try to reach mutual understanding and show by example that a happy future is conceivable only through solidarity and joint efforts of all people regardless of their nationality and views.

The beautifully compiled theoretical part of the program, supplemented with videos and other elements, presented information about different religions, events of significance to humanity, dates, and key people, and principles which, if followed, foster cooperation among representatives of different religions, social levels, and nationalities.

Readers might smile skeptically, thinking that interreligious and international wars are long-standing, age-old problems. Here was a cluster of youth who took up the idea that they could change the situation. But hasty conclusions aren't warranted! All participants in the forum understood very well the reality of the entangled situation of interreligious relations; the problems cannot be solved immediately, even if all the religious youth of the planet could contribute their efforts.

The UPF initiators of the project didn’t set complicated targets. The main direction of the forum was to give an opportunity for reconciliation among people of different religions and views. A short theoretical excursus about the peculiarities of the various world's religions, visiting places of worship of different religions, trainings directed at deeper research into the theme, and the living experiences of mutual interaction and creativity – all aimed at making the participants aware of one plain truth: all doctrines of the world teach about the same thing in different languages, in much the same way as all people strive for truth by their own different ways.

The practical result of the project will be its independent continuation through efforts of the participants in the forum. Many new ideas arose during the program. Participants will meet in the future as they carry out their various joint projects. During the New Year vacation, it will be necessary to take care of elderly people; in spring time they will plant trees to create the Alley of Peace. In summer there will be a series of festivals to promote the unification of people, representing different organizations, denominations, and nationalities, with one common desire for a happy future without division and strife.

The faith of the young people is very sincere; it inspires the older generation to participate and help in promoting and carrying out volunteer projects and good deeds.

Note: This forum grew out of an August 2011 Religious Youth Service project which included building a Peace Park in Novosibirsk. For background information on religion in Russia, click here.

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