Learning from other cultures

Submitted by SCM on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 13:15

Sarah Logan, a student at the University of Sheffield, reflects on the need for bridging differences and dialogue between faith traditions after attending the recent WSCF Europe conference in Poland.

Students from WSCF Europe together at the Conference in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo credit: Daniel Eror

I’ve recently returned from WSCF Europe’s conference in Wroclaw, which aimed to bridge differences and increase our skills of intercultural dialogue.

As part of the trip, we visited four places of worship in the ‘Quarter of Mutual Respect’ – a term coined for an area that experienced religious hostility in the 1990s, such as vandalism to various places of worship. Within this ‘quarter’ lies a Jewish synagogue, an Orthodox church, an Evangelical-Lutheran church and a Roman Catholic Church.

Religious tension brought action. The leaders of the four religious communities sought to establish understanding and tolerance between the communities. Events are held in each place of worship, with open invitations for all to attend, as well as educational meetings and artistic workshops for children in the community. Their proposals for working together are bringing not just tolerance but a deeper sense of mutual respect for each other’s traditions.

Travelling through this district really taught me a lot. We were a group of young people from different European countries, coming from a wide range of religious backgrounds. Being in these sacred spaces with such a diverse group of people was a unique experience for me. In each place, a religious leader welcomed us and taught us about their faith traditions.

It was inspirational to hear each of them speak about the importance that is placed on inter-faith dialogue. As representatives of SCM Britain, we were also joined by students from a range of European countries, including Georgia, Armenia, Belarus and Bosnia. It was amazing to discuss and share our stories within such a diverse group of people.

The experience encouraged me to be proud of the church tradition that I come from, as well as inspiring me to spend more time connecting with those from other faith traditions. Dialogue is vitally important to build common ground between traditions, experiences and cultures. We have so much to learn from each other.

Tags: WSCFpolandchristianjewish