Dear Friends in IARF,
Peace among religions and freedom of conscience for all, that is our common goal in IARF.
Last year, my message was about the scope of our work to promote freedom for each individual to practice, teach, and be educated in the religion of his or her choice.
Moving on to a different aspect of our work, I would now like you to pay attention to our shared aim: to practice what we preach. Only if all faiths are respected equally, can there be peace among religions. Only if we strive to understand, can we hope to respect. That is why IARF throughout its history has promoted interfaith interaction on the highest level.
Throughout 2016 IARF members have been active in interfaith settings. In all kinds of places, from simple board rooms to spacious conference centers, even in the open air, we have organized and taken part in interfaith encounters. Multiculturalism, with IARF, is standard, as is gender equality.
We must now look to the future. Building on the success of its 2016 Macedonia conference, IARF Europe and Middle East has announced a similar event in Poland. Preparations for the 2018 World Congress have started. It will focus on activism and building the skills of interfaith activists throughout the world needed to do their work in their local communities.
As everyone who has been active in IARF knows, learning about each other in an open, free setting is fascinating and enriching, and simply great fun, too. Maybe it is that, more than anything, which makes IARF endearing to so many people. Let this be our aspiration for the coming year: to ‘brand’ all our events and all our undertakings with the hallmark of IARF: to form warm relationships across cultural divides, no matter what befalls us.