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Younger folks make their mark at Religions for Peace convention

(RNS) — The 2021 Religions for Peace convention, which closed on Thursday (Oct. 7), might be remembered as the primary hybrid assembly, with most observers wanting in through web as 130 participated in individual. It was additionally probably the most youth-oriented gathering within the 51-year-old interfaith group’s historical past.

Almost 1 / 4 of those that got here to this yr’s convention, held in Lindau, Germany, had been aged 35 or youthful, and the numbers had been consultant of the bigger function younger persons are enjoying within the Areas for Peace’s packages, from political campaigns to local weather negotiations.

“We’re recognizing the significance of the function of younger folks,” the group’s secretary-general, Azza Karam, mentioned in an interview with Faith Information Service earlier this week. “It’s important that they’ve a voice.”

Based in 1970 as a discussion board for fostering dialogue between members of various faiths, Religions for Peace usually attracts greater than 1,000 delegates from world wide. This yr, coronavirus restrictions restricted the gathering to simply 130 in-person members on the occasion. Organizers mentioned that greater than 1,700 tuned in through video hyperlink.

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However the diminished numbers of individuals readily available put into reduction the truth that Religions for Peace is evolving into one which additionally promotes dialogue between generations. Activists of their 20s and early 30s had been a part of nearly each one of many dozens of panels, dialogues and roundtables held nearly and in-person on the four-day convention, contributing their views on matters comparable to human trafficking, environmental safety, social media, the coronavirus and humanitarianism.

A collection of intergenerational dialogues had been deliberate and run by Gen Z and Gen Y members.

“In these distinctive instances, the convention offered the chance to work collectively to deal with this unprecedented pandemic, the difficulty of youth engagement and the function of non secular leaders in diplomacy,” mentioned Imam Mohamed Magid, Religions for Peace co-president and chair of the Islamic Society of North America.

Imam Mohamed Magid. RNS picture by Adelle M. Banks

The convention’s closing declaration additionally recorded that this yr’s gathering “concerned younger folks in discussions on world peace processes and put them on an equal footing with skilled non secular leaders and diplomats.”

The ultimate declaration, signed by the greater than 60 non secular leaders from varied faiths that make up the World Council, additionally known as for “world respect for human rights and world justice within the distribution of vaccines.” The non secular leaders additionally known as on the world’s political leaders to work with them to confront the world’s most urgent challenges.

Some youth activists on the convention cautioned that their significance will rely upon whether or not non secular leaders comply with up on the ideas mentioned in Lindau.

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“This convention opened an area the place the voices of younger folks had been heard by the fitting folks,” mentioned Christian Lupemba, chair of the Inter-faith Youth Community within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Younger folks have proven that they’re performing in the present day to take over tomorrow. With love, respect and consideration, we are saying to our elders: ‘We’re prepared, give us some house on the desk, we will assist you by working alongside you to contribute to the emergence of a brand new world civilization.’”

Philbert Aganyo, a Kenya-based activist on the talks, instructed RNS youth activists helped put the issues Religions for Peace is addressing into perspective.

“The younger folks have the innovation and the power to assist discover options and the time to see issues by way of,” Aganyo mentioned. “However a very powerful factor is that we’re those who will finally inhabit the world we’re all speaking about.”

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