A lively interchange on the rapidly changing landscape of interreligious encounter marked the launch of a new journal at the Ecumenical Centre on Friday, 7 February.
The occasion was the unveiling of the new incarnation of Current Dialogue, the pioneering World Council of Churches periodical on interreligious dialogue.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), welcomed the new publishing arrangement as an historic moment for the ecumenical movement, through which Current Dialogue joins the WCC’s other two academic journals, noting that the journal brings a distinctive ecumenical perspective to the growing field.
“Over the past forty years, issues of interreligious engagement have increased in significance, and the way in which followers of different faiths work together and relate is now one of the most important issues in the contemporary world, not least in peace making and reconciliation,” said the general secretary.
Talk show discussion during the launch of "Current Dialogue". Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC
“This makes it all the more important that we find serious and respected methods to explore further and expand interest in interreligious engagement in fresh and fruitful ways, and to address with integrity and insight some of the most pressing questions of our times.”
The journal, a biennial publication produced since 1980 by the staff of the WCC’s office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, is now available through WCC’s journals publishing partner, Wiley, as an annual supplemental issue to The Ecumenical Review.
Wesley Ariarajah, former WCC deputy secretary general who also headed the council’s work in interreligious dialogue and the journal’s beginning, also spoke. He recalled the journal’s development from a mimeographed newsletter intended to promote dialogue, link practitioners with news, and publish papers in its area. He called the launch “an important day in the history of interreligious dialogue” indeed a moving experience for him because, he said, it shows how the place that the once-controversial area of interfaith dialogue has assumed in the work of the council. “It is here and is here to stay,” he said.
WCC’s journals coordinator, Stephen Brown, joined Current Dialogue editors Peniel Rajkumar, Simone Sinn and David Marshall, in a roundtable discussion of the journal and of the topics it covers. He too welcomed the journal as “a new platform for discussion and debate, and an intellectual catalyst in the field.”
In its interreligious work, the WCC attempts to strengthen inter-religious trust and respect through bilateral and multilateral dialogues, regional and cross-cultural encounters on topics like religion and violence, perceptions of "the other," and the search for identity in pluralistic societies. Because of its work, it brings a special character and authoritative content to the field, and it is hoped that the journal, in its new format, will be a resource for interfaith practitioners, researchers, students, institutions, religious leaders of different faiths, and all those interested in the study of religions.
The first issue, on “Rethinking Interreligious Engagement for Our Times,” in the new format has already appeared in print and is now also available online at no charge through Wiley.