World Interfaith Harmony Week Observed in Germany

Germany-2016-02-06-World Interfaith Harmony Week Observed in Germany

Stuttgart, Germany—More than 12 religious representatives attended a special program to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week 2016.

UPF co-organized the February 6 event together with the First Church of Christ, Scientist (a branch of the denomination founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts), who offered their meeting room as the venue.

As the guests arrived, beautiful organ music created an atmosphere of peace, allowing the participants to quickly ready themselves internally for the peace prayer and ceremonies.

After a greeting by Ms. Heidrun Leverentz, the committee chair of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Ms. Cornelia Ragg sang a very moving song.

Then Mr. Lutz Leverentz, deputy chair of the House of Religion in Stuttgart, gave a talk in which he reminded the audience that on September 23, 2012, King Abdullah II of Jordan proposed a Week of Interreligious Harmony in order to counteract misunderstandings and mistrust between people of different religions.

When we ask ourselves why the power of division is so strong, why there are such things as war and assassinations and people seeking recourse in hate, we must come to the conclusion that we have not loved enough, Mr. Leverentz said.

These thoughts were developed in a song performed by Ms. Cornelia Ragg, accompanied on the piano by her father, Mr. Pirmin Ragg: a poem by Christian Fürchtegott opening with words from Psalm 36—“Thy steadfast love, o Lord, extends to the heavens, thy faithfulness to the clouds”—set to music by Beethoven.  

Every religion summons us to act according to God’s will and not our own, Mr. Leverentz continued. The worldwide week of harmony is held under the motto “Love God and love your neighbor” or “Love what is good and love your neighbor.” Thus we all can connect when we love God or goodness.

The idea that only my own religion has the truth leads to division. We have to recognize that there are different paths to the same goal, he said. We all pray to the same God, and therefore we do not need to fear anyone who does the same.

The next speaker, Mr. Hakan Yulduz from the Mihr Foundation/Sufi-Islam, said that when we live not for ourselves but for others, Allah will not leave us. If we take care of others’ problems and teach them what we know about God, then evil, hate and revenge will have no further influence. The love between God and humankind mutually multiply like two love circles which lift us higher and higher.

But those who are faithful to God also may face difficult situations in life, he said. Sufism means to reach the point where these circumstances no longer make us unhappy. Life is the art of not allowing oneself to be influenced by problems or worries.

This was followed by prayers from representatives of different religions and faiths, accompanied by Mr. Pirim Ragg on the organ. After each prayer, a floating candle was lit and placed in a bowl of water to symbolize all religions uniting their light and gathering their power harmoniously for peace.

The ceremony was opened by Mr. Hubert Arnoldi, chair of the House of Religion, Stuttgart. The following religious representatives took part in the ceremony:

Mr. Hakan Yulduz, Mihr Foundation/Sufi Islam; Dr. Vera Antons, Catholicism; Mrs. Antje Keller, Brahma Kumaris; Mr. Samir El Midani, Islam; Dr. Manfred Schick, Scientology; Mrs. Yoshiko Arnoldi, Shinto Buddhism; Mr. Hartmut Nowotny, Baha’i; Mrs. Leonora Ruocco, First Church of Christ, Scientist; Mrs. Margret Bellomo, Catholicism; Mr. Hubert Arnoldi, Unification Church; Mr. Hans Georg Weidner and Mrs. Gisela Rusitzka, Society of Friends.

This special event drew to a close with a group photo to a background of organ music. We continued heart-to-heart discussions for a long time while enjoying coffee and cake.

The next time, God willing, we will meet in a wonderful mosque, because in our Father’s house there are many mansions!

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