URI Conference at the New North London Synagogue

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Members of All Faiths Network (AFN) attended a conference organised by United Religions Initiative (URI) and hosted by the New North London Synagogue and Barnet Multi Faith Forum. URI organised this conference to better understand the interfaith scene in the UK and introduce itself to other groups. Executives from both URI International and Europe attended.

URI is probably the world’s largest interfaith organisation, with 1,150 groups in 110 countries – AFN being a member organisation (though there are surprisingly few member groups in the UK). There were a number of panel speakers, including AFN’s Director Martin Weightman who was asked to speak on freedom of religion and belief. Other contributions focused on the important interfaith cooperation activities the various groups were doing.

It comes at a time, as one of the other speakers, Dr Harriet Crabtree of UK’s Interfaith Network explained, when promised government funding was later withdrawn and this has led to the closure of the organisation.

This was the third and last in a series of conferences held in the UK by URI – the others exploring interfaith activity in Coventry and Birmingham.

Other speakers were Julie Siddiqui MBE (Co-Founder, Nisa-Nashim) – Reflections on the present interfaith environment; Jeremy Simmons (Faith Action) – The Faith Charter and social action; Phil Champain (Director, Faith and Belief Forum) – FBF’s Youth & Parliamentary programmes; Ruth Peacock (Religion Media Centre) – Media perspective; with Esmond Rosen moderating the meeting.

Jerry White, Executive Director of URI, explained more about URI itself saying that there is a need for a new impetus for interfaith work, especially in the current volatile world order and that this is the moment to create a rallying point around a common task to end religiously motivated violence.

URI’s purposes are:

To promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation
To end religiously motivated violence
To create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings.

AFN looks forward to further continued cooperation with URI and working closely with the organisation to fulfil these purposes.

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