Interfaith September

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cambodia1The Uniting Church values relationships with people of other faiths and cultures and affirms the place of interfaith dialogue in creating and sustaining a culture of peace and harmony. The Uniting Church recognizes that it is part of a wider interfaith journey and story, which is shared with those of other faiths. The World Council of Churches (WCC) Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths says in part:

It is Christian faith in the triune God- creator of all humankind, redeemer in Jesus Christ, revealing and renewing Spirit- which calls us Christians to human relationship with many of our neighbours. Such relationship includes dialogue: witnessing to our deepest convictions and listening to those of our neighbours. It is Christian faith which sets us free to be open to the faiths of others, to risk, to trust and to be vulnerable. In dialogue, conviction and openness are held in balance. Dialogue is a style of living relationship with neighbours. This in no way replaces or limits our Christian obligation to witness, as partners enter into dialogue with their respective commitments.

The Uniting Church affirms and puts into action these WCC guidelines as well as the four basic principles of interfaith dialogue identified by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (formerly the British Council of Churches):

  • Dialogue begins when people meet people
  • Dialogue depends upon removing misunderstanding and building up trust
  • Dialogue leads to common service within the community
  • Dialogue is a means of authentic witness

In and through interfaith dialogues we meet with other people who share an experience of the Divine as we do. Dialogues cover areas of common interest and concern, explore different themes and issues of faith, and allow questions, confusions, and misconceptions to be explored. Relationships and friendships built in these dialogues have other benefits. They model possibilities of mutual and respectful relationship to the wider community, and assist us to support, encourage and reach out to each other when there are issues and challenges in particular communities.

As articulated in the theological statement Living with the Neighbour Who Is Different, the Uniting Church believes that interfaith dialogue is not the easy option, which avoids the sharing of one's faith; rather it is the difficult option, which calls us to share our faith in a conversation of true mutuality. Christian mission is our participation in the Mission of God, who acts in Christ "to gather up all things in him" (Ephesians 1:9-10). The proclamation of the Gospel so as to invite faith in others is an integral part of our mission.

Members of the Uniting Church are involved in a number of dialogue groups, interfaith activities and government consultations on interfaith cooperation.

Interfaith Dialogues in Australia
Guidelines and Resources for Interfaith Dialogue