Organized by the WCC team for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, the event built on a meeting in Cardiff, Wales, in November 2019, which launched a network to foster mutual learning and support among those involved in interreligious work in the WCC member churches around the world.
A joint opening presentation was offered by Rev. Margaret Rose of the Episcopal Church and Kathryn Lohre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Rose focused on recent challenges to interreligious relations in the USA such as Christian nationalist sentiment, antisemitism, Islamophobia and racism. She observed that Americans cannot claim ‘This is not us!’ because ‘This is us!’ and the problems need to be addressed honestly.
Lohre’s presentation considered “pandemics within the pandemic,” recognizing a range of challenges in recent times that have had a disproportionate impact on people of colour. She also noted that among the “extreme challenges,” there were “glimpses of hope,” concluding her reflections with a quotation from the poem recited by Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of President Biden.
Both panelists affirmed the value of being in relationship and global partnership amidst ongoing challenges as well as bright spots, and acknowledged as a gift the accompaniment that a network such as this offered.
Reflecting on the webinar, Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, coordinator of the team for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the WCC, commented: “This meeting is an example of the extraordinary advances we have made in the strange circumstances of recent months in our capacity to convene colleagues from all around the world for conversation, mutual learning and support. We envisage developing this emerging network further by facilitating similar events from time to time.”