UK Religious Youth Organisations Seminar
First preparatory meeting March 9th, 1997
WCRP youth convened a meeting at the Luton University on March 9th, 1997 to brainstorm an inter-faith youth project that can be initiated by the end of October 1997 in the United Kingdom. This is proposed to be in the form of a weekend / long weekend training seminar which will seek to equip the participants with the skills required for inter-religious dialogue and co-operation. It is very much hoped that the whole organisation and planning of the project will become a shared venture amongst the different religious youth organisations taking part; and in this sense may be seen as a pilot displaying the level of co-operation that can be achieved amongst our organisations.
Resume of meeting
Examples of the strengths of religious youth organisations that can be expanded to work on an inter-faith level include:
University student societies have experimented with inter-faith events, and in some cases these have developed into regular functioning groups. What this training seminar will seek to do is tap into the experiences already gained and pursue the feasibility of expanding the inter-faith concept onto a national level throughout the UK at university campuses. The exact nature, purpose, scope of activities and characteristics of this, is the central issue that needs to be developed amongst us. At the first preparatory meeting on March 9th, 1997 a number of ideas were put on the table and are presented below under general headings:
- Communication, networking and co-ordination of local youth groups.
- Programmes to raise the level of personal moral standards and spiritual understanding.
- Study of the fundamental religious verities of each faith.
- Debate and discussion on current social and political issues.
- Projects to foster understanding and co-operation with other religious communities.
- Cultural celebrations and social events.
- Gain a thorough understanding of each other.
- Work that we do must be seen, i.e. maximum publicity.
- 3Ms: Motivate and Mobilise the Moderates.
- Understand areas of tension and awareness of the nature of
delicate issues that some groups may not wish to address
- Foster an atmosphere of openness and tolerance amongst
- Provision of advice and information on how to initiate
- Focus on similarities rather than differences/differences
rather than similarities?
- Raising awareness of the needs, problems and sufferings
experienced within faith communities.
- Focus of this project?
- Religious values - how to address them on campus.
- Discussion on social and political aspects of inter-faith.
- what do each of the religious communities stand for?
- what are their beliefs?
- how can religious intolerance be countered?
- can religious youth put forward a united front on moral
values? For example devise a programme to counter bullying or
prejudice in schools.
- do we understand and can we support activities of
importance to other religious communities in this field? For
example "campaigns to wear the hijab".
- how can we expand the current debate on these issues
from within religious communities to the inter-faith arena?
- can we produce statements on current social and political
issues affecting youth and society in general?
Menu of projects
- Foster acts of service by getting involved in the local
- Breakdown barriers by organising social activities... make
use of entertainment ... cultural and artistic.
- Inter-faith councils on campus as a practical resource for
- Ensure gender balance of participants.
- Set Ground Rules: no contention, controversy and
conversion. The 3C’s?!
- Bona fide inter-faith speakers.
- Have safe/neutral environments.
- Teach how to get actively involved in debate.
- Use the word "co-operation" in any publicity material.
Venue and date
- Possibilities: Luton, London, Birmingham and Leicester.
- Portfolio of costs associated with hiring of rooms over a
weekend/weekday and availability of accommodation at each
university location to be prepared for next preparatory meeting.
- End of October or End of September 1997.
Commitment of religious youth groups to project
- Youth groups are asked to nominate a member of their
organisation who is willing to be part of the preparatory process
in the months ahead.
- Youth groups are asked to help in the task of sourcing
funding and/or giving guidance on where funding can be
- Youth groups are asked to use their networks and channels
of communication to promote the event and stimulate debate
on the subject in their own newsletters, events and calendar of
Organisations on board the planning process
Organisations who requested to remain informed:
- Association of British Baha’i Youth
- Birmingham Interfaith Council
- Brahma Kumaris, World Spiritual University
- Church of England National Youth Office
- European Union of Jewish Students
- Federation of Students’ Islamic Society
- Focolare Movement
- International Association for Religious Freedom
- International Council of Christians and Jews
- National Hindu Students Forum
- National Methodist Society
- Students Union Luton University
- World Assembly of Muslim Youth
- World Conference on Religion and Peace
- Quaker Peace and Service
- Youth Action for Peace