At the beginning of the World Interfaith Harmony Week the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches encouraged churches to work for interfaith harmony. In a letter to the WCC fellowship the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit reflected that we are reminded each day, in both promising and painful ways, of the inevitability of interreligious dialogue for the wellbeing and wholeness of the entire creation.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed each year during the first week of February. During this week the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship are encouraged to spread the message of interfaith harmony in accordance with their own religious traditions and convictions.
“Mutual trust and understanding between religions, cultures and spiritual traditions are paramount for building a culture where justice and peace will kiss each other,” Tveit wrote. Reflecting on the theme of the World Interfaith Harmony Week – Love of God and Love of Neighbour, Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour – Tveit wrote, “My hope is that this week will remind us of the love of God that we as Christians have experienced through Jesus Christ and also inspire us to imitate the love of Christ in relation to our neighbors of all faiths and none through the empowering of the Holy Spirit”.
The WCC’s office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation is encouraging Christian churches across the world to observe World Interfaith Harmony Week in a meaningful way through prayer and reflection. A worship order has been prepared by the WCC’s office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for churches who may wish to mark the occasion with prayer. The intercessory prayers in the worship order focus on victims of religious violence, children and religious and political leaders.
Some of the prayers prepared for this year can be found below:
God the eternal healer, we pray for all victims of violence carried out in the name of religion. We pray for those who have suffered harm at the hands of those who claim to be faithful and those whose memories have been scarred by hate. Where there is hurt bring wholeness, where there is fear bring freedom.
God who sanctifies, we pray for children and young people across the world, remembering especially those who live in places marred by violence in the name of faith. Build communities with the commitment and resilience to resist all forms of religious extremism and radicalization. Raise up among our young people role models who will foster harmony and strive for the flourishing of all.
Wonderful counselor we pray for all religious and political leaders. Where there is abuse of faith give then the wisdom to see it. Where courage is needed grant courage. Where humility is needed, gift them humility. We pray for better ways to handle conflict, and we pray that the day when swords shall become plowshares may come quickly.