Faith and Leadership Seminar Conducted in The Hague
- Category: Interfaith Dialogue
- Published: 07 November 2011
After a period of intensive planning and conceptualization, the Soetendorp Institute has conducted a "Faith and Leadership" Seminar that is being supported by the municipality of The Hague. The course was co-organized by the International Student Chaplaincy of The Hague as well as the organization "Islam en Dialoog". The course included ten sessions of 2 to 6 hours in which the participants got a first-hand insight into interreligious and intercultural dialogue and collaboration.
The organizing partners sent out an open call for participation to the young people within their networks and then selected 15 young adults from diverse religious, cultural and academic backgrounds aged 18 to 30 on the basis of their stated interest in interreligious and intercultural matters. Genuinely internalizing the principle of intergenerational collaboration and mutual learning, the young participants were asked to share their expectations of the course and were thus actively involved in the Seminar's programmatic development.
The programme of the seminar included an introduction to the themes, structures, mechanisms and challenges of interreligious dialogue based on Rabbi Soetendorp long-standing experience in this area; a full-day workshop that introduced the participants to the skills necessary for responsible leadership and constructive dialogue both within their faith community and between communities of different faiths, including respectful communication and deep listening; a workshop on intercultural competence and the ability of seeing the world through the perspectives of the other offered by the Interculturele Alliantie (Intercultural Alliance) from Amsterdam that has developed several intercultural training programmes.
A key aim of the Seminar was to give the students a first hand experience of interreligious dialogue and collaboration in practice, so they participated in the large interreligious celebration accompanying the Opening of Parliament (Prinsjesdag Viering) that took place on September 19, 2011 in de Grote Kerk in Den Haag and had a meeting with the main organizers of this event that was joined by the Dutch Prime Minister, several members of the Dutch cabinet as well as representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha'i and humanist organizations. More than 500 people attended the celebration that was initiated by Rabbi Soetendorp in the year 2000.
During the months of November and December, the young leaders visited a Mosque, a Hindu Temple, A Church, a Buddhist Center and a Synagogue and engaged in dialogues with the clerics and adherents of these places of worship. Through these visits the participants gained a direct insight into the different traditions and forms of worship.
The Seminar concluded with an interreligious solidarity march that connected different houses of worship in The Hague as well as a public event in Rabbi Soetendorp's Synagogue in The Hague where the participants shared their gained experiences.
The course received positive feedback from the participants – “We have more in common than I thought” and “We should spread this information to fight prejudices” were some comments we often heard after the sessions.
The Soetendorp Institute takes this first seminar as an occasion for gaining experience for organizing further training courses in the forthcoming years.