Refreshed Guidelines for Interfaith Events and Dialogue launched at General Synod

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An updated edition of the Church of Ireland’s Guidelines for Interfaith Events and Dialogue is now available for clergy, and other leaders in dioceses and parishes, to consult when considering how best to approach relationships with people who follow other world religions.

The Guidelines – which were first published in 2007 – have been revised by the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue (through its Inter Faith Working Group) and the House of Bishops, and are underpinned by five principles emphasising the importance of:

  • respecting humanity as being made in the image and likeness of God;
  • creating and developing relationships and understanding;
  • freedom of religious expression as a fundamental human right;
  • dialogue for enhancing peace and justice, and respecting the dignity of creation;
  • respect for the Christian faith as part of true dialogue and integrity.

The 20-page booklet provides general guidance for occasions when people of other faiths and their leaders are invited to join with members of the Church of Ireland, in the life of our churches (or at events of local or national importance), before discussing several issues for Christians to consider in inter-faith encounters.

Practical guidance is given in relation to situations presented in the contexts of marriage, Baptism, Holy Communion, funerals, church festivals and special services, the festivals of other faiths, community events, hospital chaplaincy, and dealing with objections.

Writing in his introduction for the Guidelines, Bishop Michael Burrows, as Chair of the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, notes: “Few of us in ministry today can avoid the challenge, the questions, the opportunities and the joys which inter-faith engagement can offer.  Some will approach the matter nervously, others with enthusiasm, and undoubtedly it is an area where our own theological perspectives can be somewhat varied. But upon certain things we can and should agree … and these principles are rooted in sound concepts such as respect, hospitality, graciousness and attentiveness.”

Guidelines for Interfaith Events and Dialogue is published by Church of Ireland Publishing and available to download from the Church of Ireland website at www.ireland.anglican.org/inter-faith-guidelines