Museum of World Religions AGM and project development meeting hosted in Birmingham

engagementThe Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) Gurudwara and Nishkam Centre were honoured to host the Museum of World Religions (MWR) Working Committee for a marathon two day gathering and Annual General Meeting this week.

The Museum of World Religions (MWR) will provide an opportunity for people of different backgrounds to get to know, understand, respect, and learn from each other. It will create an atmosphere that stimulates spiritual awareness and a sense of humility. The project was inspired and initiated by the Dharma Master Hsin Tao who founded the first Museum of World Religions located in Taiwan. The Working Committee is looking at the planning and coordination to establish a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham. The Museum is intended to be a shared space for dialogue and understanding between people from different faith communities as well as for people of no religious or faith affiliations. It is envisaged that it will serve as an educational resource for learners of all ages and provide an opportunity for individuals to explore the part that religion plays in contemporary life.

The Museum will be a twenty-first-century state-of-the-art spacious building to allow visitors a sense of freedom in exploring the exhibitions. The Museum will encourage respect for religion by introducing visitors to the core values, wisdom, and practices of all the major world religions, and in this manner illustrate the need for religion in an increasingly secular and environmentally threatened world.

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh who had just returned from an interfaith trip to Amritsar, India where he hosted the Birmingham Faith Leaders to ascertain a better understanding of the Sikh Dharam (faith), said “The meeting hasmeeting been very productive; the passion of the working committee to ensure the project is thought through and planned meticulously is enlightening. As human beings we need a better understanting of the other; fear, hostility, anger and resentment are a result of a lack of understanding. We must empower people with knowledge of other faith traditions so that we can build a more cohesive society. I am honoured to be part of this Working Group, this is a landmark project that will become a focal point for faith literacy in this hemisphere in years to come”.

The team that met this week included:

  • Josef Boehle, Coordinator of the UNESCO Chair in Interfaith Studies, University of Birmingham;
  • Rodney Dodds, Reader Emeritus, Church of England;
  • Marius Felderhof, former Senior Lecturer, Dept. Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham;
  • Maria Reis Habito, International Programme Director, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan;
  • Farida Hashem, Senior Consultant, Felixia Associates;
  • Sharif Horthy, President, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Brighton;
  • Tuti Horthy, Trustee, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Brighton;
  • Kurt Schreiber, Advisor, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan;
  • Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman, GNNSJ, Birmingham;
  • Sukhbir Singh, GNNSJ, Birmingham

The Museum will look at the central importance of religion in human life and create a common space for the many religious communities in Birmingham. It is envisioned that the project would have an educational value for the general public and would be the first of its kind in Europe, possibly the first outside Taiwan. It will celebrate the role and relevance of religion, both for individuals and for society. Furthermore, it will stimulate constructive and critical reflection on the role of religion in our global society. When we consider the misrepresentation, the hijacking, and the mis-use of faith to serve personal agendas, the need for such a museum is exceptionally timely. In today’s increasingly globalised and fractured world, members of different faith communities and ethnicities find themselves sharing a common space. At the same time, humanity is facing unprecedented challenges––environmental degradation, poverty, war, violence between groups and communities, uneven distribution of material wealth, social disparity, injustice, alienation, and many other problems. The proposed Museum is intended to provide information and resources for individuals to reflect on the meaning and role of religion amidst these challenges, and how religion can indeed be a positive force for global healing, social transformation, and personal growth in the twenty-first century.

By encouraging the recognition of the importance of inter-religious dialogue and religious education as vehicles contributing to social stability and world peace the museum will build powerful bridges. It will serve as a major educational resource for teachers and students of theology and Religious Education in Britain, Europe, and beyond.

Amrick Singh, Centre Director commented, “It is always a pleasure to host and serve such distinguished guests working on projects that will be for the benefit of all. The rich diversity of this team illustrates how vibrant the final outcome will be. The guests were really overwhelmed by the hospitality they received by Bhai Sahib Ji and the team and we are pleased we were able to contribute in a small way by hosting such a significant meeting”.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information:

Nishkam Media Centre – www.nishkammediacentre.com

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