Welcoming Each Other: From Fear to Trust

November 12th, 2015 11:35 am


From the 28th October until the 1st November the Religion for Peace – European Assembly was held in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. The Assembly was on the topic of “Welcoming Each Other: From Fear to Trust” and addressed the fears of Europeans with the influx of refugee and migrants on the continent and how they can be overcome and turned into trust. Since there are 41 ongoing conflicts around the world and 60 million refugees globally, finding space for inter-faith dialogue is more important than ever. It was stated at the Assembly, that Europe is sleeping, while the conflicts around us are gradually growing bigger and bigger. One starting point for the Assembly was, that Europe needs to wake up and engage in peace building more seriously and extensively.

For all the different religions and faiths represented at the Assembly, the combining issue was seen in the Golden rule, that each of us could relate to as a maxim of life. The Assembly was compiled of plenary sessions and workshops as well as sharing best practices of different European organisations and their engagement in overcoming the fear with interreligious activities (ex. Run for Unity or SB Overseas). This activities worked also as an inspiration to the participants to take back with them to their own communities for their endeavors in peace building and inter-faith dialogue.

Youth delegates: Daniel Eror (EIYN), Annika Foltin (WSCF-E), Krista Autio (WSCF-E), Natalyia Pylypiv (EIYN), Daniela Malec (EIYN), Rupal Maru (EIYN)
Youth delegates: Daniel Eror (EIYN), Annika Foltin (WSCF-E), Krista Autio (WSCF-E), Natalyia Pylypiv (EIYN), Daniela Malec (EIYN), Rupal Maru (EIYN)


During the whole Assembly there were three workshop sessions with different offers. Annika visited “Cross stitch and crochet for inner peace in creativity” led by Zosia Socha, a core member of the European Interfaith Youth Network. There she learnt to crochet and how relaxing it can be. The second workshop she visited was “The role of interreligious education for overcoming fears and building trust” led by Prof. Johannes Lähnemann, who published a magazine on the same topic which shows the importance of education in primary and high school of the different religions. The last workshop she participated in was “Violence against women and girls” by Bharti Tailor. In this workshop they talked about the different types of violence and what religious leaders should do to end the violence against women and girls, such as empower young women and promote their leadership as well as involve them in theological discussions and promote gender equality.

Krista visited a workshop called “Contributing to harmonious life and new approaches” led by Nataliya Pylypiv from EIYN. In the workshops they discussed about forgiveness and how for example the conflict in Ukraine shows the value of faith, compassion and friendliness. Workshop participants shared how they pursue for harmonious life with different ethnic and religious groups and also about the level of inter-faith dialogue and hor at the RfP level, it should move forward from dwelling in the idea, that we all worship the same God to more serious dialogue, which doesn’t avoid talking about challenging topics. Krista also participated in a workshop about “Media’s role in overcoming violence” which discussed the best practises on how RfP could contribute on educating journalists reporting on conflicts related to religions, however acknowledging that journalists are one of the most persecuted group of people in the world. The workshop tried to compose ideas for campaigns and collegiums tackling the problems of how conflicts are reported. The last workshop Krista visited was about how religions could contribute overcoming violence, and dealt some case examples of different conflicts. It highlighted the role of religious leaders and their status in the community that is in conflict.

group pic EIYN

The Assembly was a great way to get to know Religions for Peace and its European and local chapters. A great highlight for us was the interreligious and intercultural evening on the last day. Different interfaith groups performed on stage and created a fantastic atmosphere. It was a great experience, and we made many new friends with hopefully future possibilities of working together.


FotoAnnika Foltin
Annika Foltin is the Executive Committee member of the European Regional Committee and belongs to SCM Austria. She just finished her Master’s degree in “Diplomacy & Religion” and lives currently in Germany. She likes to read and travel.

KristaKrista Autio
Krista Autio is the Global Networking Coordinator of the European Regional Committee and comes from SCM Finland (SKY). She is a graduate student of Theology and Development Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her dream is to work as a pastor at international Christian cooperation field related to human rights and solidarity work.

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