On Oct. 20, 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution designating the first week in February to be an annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. The General Assembly called for dialogue among the different religions internationally, nationally, and locally to enhance interfaith harmony and cooperation.
In this historic action the UN General Assembly recognized the possibility and necessity for the believers in the major world religions to facilitate peace building and to engage in the global moral issues of poverty, hunger, health care, environmental destruction, and other world challenges. Clergy and congregations are asked to focus during this week on (1) learning about the faith and beliefs of followers of other religious traditions, (2) remembering interfaith cooperation in prayers and messages, and (3) sharing together in cooperative compassionate care for persons suffering and marginalized in local communities.
Increasingly, American diversity has persons of other faith traditions living with us as neighbors. In the cacophony of misunderstanding and mistrust, harmony is a recognition of the moral impact of learning about each other’s faith, religious beliefs, and practices, and the increased possibilities of helping local people in need through cooperative service. The World Interfaith Harmony Week is an opportunity to expand compassion locally by reducing our fears and prejudices.
For further information and resources go to www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com .
— Larry Ulrich is the Church of the Brethren representative on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches.