The Young Leadership Council of the International Council of Christians and Jews met at the end of July 2010 in Dublin. The conference provided opportunities for 25 young people from the UK, Canada, the USA, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, Switzerland and Slovakia to meet, build relationships and try out different tools for cultivating dialogue and interfaith understanding. 3FF’s Debbie Danon and Sarah Hulme offer their reflections on the conference.
Debbie: Participants “encountered” each other’s traditions through discussion of religious texts, site visits, and fascinating conversations which grew more intimate and insightful as the conference went on.
Sarah: I very much enjoyed the opportunity to experience the Jewish Sabbath; the songs, the rituals and the deep spirituality which ran through start and end. I found it immensely moving and relished the chance to participate in this ceremony.
D: The highlight of the “exchange” element was a Cultural Sharing Evening. This included an engaging video about Iran’s history, learning German songs, American etiquette for attending baseball games and attempts at both Israeli and traditional English dancing.
S: Perhaps my favourite memory was sitting with two American girls, an Israeli, an Iranian and another Brit discussing how we experienced relationships and marriage in our different faiths and cultures. It was the first opportunity the American girls had had to speak with a Muslim, someone they earlier had confessed to me they felt too nervous to question.
D: There was a focus on “equipping” participants to be able to start or enhance interfaith initiatives in their countries. 3FF ran “Skills 4 Dialogue & Communication” training, a support circle was created for speaking about how interfaith activities can impact on one’s own faith and participants then devised “action plans” in regional groups.
S: As an evangelical Christian involved in interfaith, perhaps the most transformative part of the conference for me was the support circle created. I came away more excited about the possibilities of interfaith and more deeply connected to my own faith which was not a conference outcome I had expected.
D: The success of the event was in great part thanks to new chair Katie Sturm and to the Board who worked incredibly hard this year. We look forward to harnessing the excitement and insights generated by this conference to enhance Three Faiths Forum’s work, and that of the international interfaith field.