„Interfaith, Cities and Government“ – thus the title of a new project launched by the European Council of Religious Leaders ECRL, bringing together interfaith leaders and local governments from European cities, to share best practice, exchange knowledge, and explore collaboration. A particular focus of the project is models of multi-faith integration and religious communities participation in democracy.

The idea for the project came out of discussions with members of governments from both Berlin and London between 2015-16. Authority members observe a lack of relationship between faith groups and governments. Some faith groups withdraw from society, making it hard to identify their issues. “Interfaith, Cities and Government” aims to facilitate this exchange in order to foster mutual understanding and trust building.

„Migration and integration pose a demanding challenge to European major cities“ says ECRL Moderator Thomas Wipf. „Berlin und London have a wide experience of cooperation between state authorities and religious communities. To report on these experiences and to learn from one another is the mail goal of the project.“

A first exchange was held in Berlin on October 13th. Participants included Commander Mak Chishty (Metropolitan Police London), Catriona Robertson (London Boroughs Faith Network), Jasvir Singh (Co-Chair Faiths Forum London), Hartmut Rhein (Senate Chancellary Berlin), Dr Thomas Schimmel (1219 Religions- und Kulturdialog Berlin), Pastor Peter Jorgensen (Community of Evangelical Free Churches Berlin). ECRL participants included Moderator Dr Thomas Wipf, Deputy General Secretary Dr Mark Owen and Secretariat Manager Rebecca Bellamy.

The next meeting is planned to take place in London beginning of 2017.

The European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians. ECRL has participatory status with the Council of Europe. ECRL is one of five regional Interreligious Councils with the Religions for Peace network. Religions for Peace – accredited to the United Nations – is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970.

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