Creating communities where all belong and contribute
In November 2010 the Irish Council of Churches began implementing a long planned and highly innovative project to show how faith and city interaction can create positive change. It was borne out of our ten principles for Migrant Diversity and Inter–culturalism affirmed by our member churches. The tenth principle affirms that we work together as Churches and network with people of other faiths to promote a greater understanding between denominations and other faiths, ensuring the growth of a society based on respect, dignity and equal rights for all its members. The Dublin City Inter Faith Forum is the beginnings of a tangible realisation of this affirmation.
Developing the Forum has been a valuable journey for us with much nuanced negotiation, sensitive understanding and active learning. It led us to navigate the unchartered waters of finding appropriate balance and fair representation across multi–layered cultures and traditions. What appeared insurmountable became possible as communities together we agreed numbers of representatives from each faith community while trying to ensure that the rich tapestry of each community’s experience and traditions was apparent while always seeking the broad ethnic diversity that is characterizing contemporary Dublin.
The catalyst for the forum was a partnership between Irish Council of Churches and Dublin City Council with the valuable support of EIF funding. The primary objective of the project was to promote the integration of third country nationals within the Dublin City Council area. There has been a symbiosis between our two Councils which has greatly assisted in earning trust and providing legitimacy. However it is only proper that all the member faith communities can now claim ownership of the forum. Their vision to ‘create communities where all belong and contribute’ is an inspiration.
From the moment of the forum’s inception it has never been short of ideas. A key challenge has been trying to ensure sufficient focus and prioritization of activity rather than encourage idea generation. This has been truly exciting. The momentum is such that we would encourage all bodies connected to the forum to continue to offer it full their support. With the ‘project phase’ now technically over the forum now begins a new important phase of its independent journey and ongoing commitment from key dublin based stakeholders is critical.
Faith communities are increasingly struggling to find their voices in proudly secular societies and yet have important and unique contributions to make for the well being of all. We very much appreciate the understanding of Dublin City Council being open to ask what faith communities can bring to the arena of integration. Perhaps more importantly they have listened as we’ve begun to answer. This forum is a unique model of engagement and one we are very proud to have been part of.
We wish the forum well in its continuing journey and hope that many can take inspiration from this initiative and learn from the valuable lessons we have gained. Not least that a meaningful city/faith engagement is both possible and beneficial. Through listening and understanding we can build on our difference and create societies that we all want to live in and where we are free to believe and to express our beliefs without fear or prejudice. These principles are self evident yet fundamental.
For further information please see the DCIF website