|Imam Ibrahim Hewitt|
The conference was devised and hosted by Les Côtils Centre Manager, Paul Chambers, and was co-chaired by the Very Rev, Canon Paul Mellor, the Anglican Dean of Guernsey.
It was an innovative ‘first’ bringing together leading speakers; Rev. Garth Hewitt, Rabbi Niles Elliot-Goldstein and Iman Ibrahim Hewitt from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.The conference was attended by 70 delegates; I travelled to Guernsey at the invitation of Paul Chambers, Les Cotils' Manager.
|Rabbi Niles Elliot-Goldstein|
On arrival on Friday evening, delegates had an opportunity to sample a traditional halal buffet, courtesy of the local Muslim restaurants. This was followed by the formal introductions from the speakers, who shared their own journeys of faith.
On the Saturday morning members of the Jewish Community celebrated their Sabbath before the commencement of the daily programme, in which the Muslim, Jewish and Christian speakers engaged in dialogue; looking at how we can all build bridges rather than burn then and how we can inform, inspire and break down the barriers of ignorance between the rich traditions of the faiths who find their roots in Abraham.
|Rev. Garth Hewitt|
Over the weekend, the delegates were invited to listen to the speakers discussing a range of topics including :
The Common Roots of the Three Major Faiths
The shared causes of: Humanity & Justice, Politics and Human Rights.
Can interfaith dialogue be used as an effective tool to advance Peace Building around the world? "Peace is Possible because it is God's dream that we live amicably together as brothers and sisters, side by side because we belong to God's family." (Desmond Tutu)
In a world of anti-semitism and Islamaphobia, the concluding session looked at the foundations to establish trust and understanding - confirmation of differences - yet to explore the ways in which the message of different faiths can benefit people from other religions in the same community.
The delegates were encouraged to participate in the discussions with formal Question and Answer sessions, but many delegates also took advantage of the coffee, lunch and tea breaks to engage in informal questioning with members of the panel.
The main purpose of the conference was not about being right, but about building bridges, as an important step forward in creating a better respect and understanding between faiths.
In concluding the conference, everyone, born from the panel of speakers and the delegates, deemed that the conference had been an overwhelming success, exceeding all expectations.
It is hoped that a further conference will be organised at Les Côtils Centre in 2006.