The Christian Conference of Asia gathered over 100 participants representing seven religions including Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Bahai, Hindu and Sikh to meet with the participants of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace Reference Group to discuss relevant issues about religion and their implications to the Asian society.
“Continuous interfaith dialogue is key to better mutual understanding, tolerance and respect and long term-peace and stability” said Dr Mathews George Chunakara, representing Christianity, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, at the Inter-Religious Fellowship and Dinner Reception in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on 4 March. “In several situations in Asia, although the churches and Christians are small in number, and the Christians are small in number, and the Christians are only a microscopic minority, they are directly involved in peace building in various ways. They are upholding the dignity and rights of people and communities irrespective of their religious and faith identities. Peacefulness is a common denominator of all major religions”.
Frank Sethi, representing the Sikh, said: “A great way to understand other religions is to visit their places of worship. Go to a church or a mosque and ask if you are allowed to enter. We have to be open and learn from one another. “
Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary said: “As Christians we seek peace, and we educate our people to seek justice and peace, because to do so is a clear expression of our obedience to the call of Christ to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. One of the many manifestations of this love-motivated activity of Christians in and for the sake of the wider world is to seek peace.”
Phiri concluded, “The Christian Conference of Asia is a role model and inspire churches to dialogue with the other religions. This is the way to go to achieve peace and harmony.”
The WCC’s Reference Group for the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace and Theological Study Group are meeting in Thailand until 6 March, aiming to reflect on reports on the situation in Asia through the lens of the pilgrimage’s global thematic focus on racism and Asia for 2019 and the cooperation with member churches, national councils of churches, the Christian Conference of Asia and other actors in the region.