Interfaith specialists from Europe and North America will find out how Wales models strong relationships between people of different religions at a conference next week.
Wales’s First Minister and the Archbishop of Wales will be among those describing pioneering partnership work in Wales at the regional meeting of the Anglican Inter Faith Commission.
The event takes place at Cardiff’s Pierhead building on September 9. It will be chaired by the Archbishop of Dublin and attended by interfaith specialists from Anglican churches in Europe and North American and also representatives from other faiths and church denominations.
The Archbishop, John Davies, says, “We are privileged to host this key international meeting in Wales. Wales is at the forefront of interfaith partnership. We have excellent networks and the support of our government which values faith groups and recognises their part in sustaining cohesive communities built on respect. This event will highlight what we are achieving in Wales and I hope those attending will feel welcomed and leave inspired.”
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, will outline the Welsh Government’s commitment to faith communities. Mr Drakeford chairs the Faith Communities Forum, which was set up in response to growing international tension following the 9/11 attack and has met regularly since then. Wales’ National Assembly also has a cross party faith group which promotes the positive contribution of faith groups to communities.
Delegates will also hear about the relationship faith groups in Wales have with the government and with each other from the chief executive of Cytûn, Churches Together in Wales, the Revd Canon Aled Edwards, and policy officer, the Revd Gethin Rhys. Wales also has an Interfaith Council and its chair, Nord’zin Pamo, will describe the contribution it makes.
A local perspective on how faith groups co-operate will be given by the Revd Dean Atkins, chair of South Cardiff Interfaith Network and parish priest of Butetown, where the meeting is being held.
Mr Atkins says, “Living together with difference is not something new to the people of Butetown. It’s happened for generations. People of different religions, cultures and languages have lived, side by side for years. There have been breaking points in the past but mostly we simply get on with the task and the privilege of living alongside one another building on the heritage we have received. We work together on common issues, we fight injustice together, build community together, form friendships that are lasting and meaningful. It’s nothing new. It’s all quite natural for us here in Tiger Bay!”
The Bishop of Llandaff, June Osborne, will open the event with a welcome and prayers and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, will introduce the day. The Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave, will give an update on the work of the global Anglican Interfaith Commission.
The meeting, which starts at 10am, will also include a session on reading the Bible “through interfaith eyes”, led by Dr Catrin Williams, Reader in New Testament at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, with some of her doctorate students.
The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, will close the meeting with a short commemoration of victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief and prayers for a commitment to peaceful coexistence.
The photo shows the Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, welcoming guests at a dinner hosted by the Muslim Council of Wales in Cardiff.