Key stakeholders in a new inter-religious centre in Nigeria have met to plan for the centre and its work, set to launch in March 2016.
The meeting was held at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, 27 to 28 September.
Institutions represented were the Jordanian Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (RABIIT), the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) and Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI).
The project has developed as a result of a high-level international inter-religious visit to Nigeria by representatives of the WCC and RABIIT in 2012.
Speaking about the significance of the project, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, said, “Muslims and Christians can, through this initiative, hear each other’s stories, share each other’s pain, and begin to heal. This centre is a significant common project for Muslims and Christian leaders in Nigeria and a pioneering work in inter-religious encounter.”
Attendees shared their vision for the work of the centre, which is intended to act as an impetus for healing and reconciliation in Nigeria, given the recent incidents of conflict in the country. The governance, management and programme of the centre are intended to model Nigerian Christians and Muslims working together on issues of concern to all Nigerians.
The evocative phrase “In the sandals of the other” was proposed as a descriptive title for the centre. In the first year of its operation, the centre will work on supporting victims of violence who are suffering from trauma, with a particular focus on women and young people. It will also share examples of people working together to support each other across religious boundaries, as well as beginning substantial data collection.
Participants of the meeting included Dr Khalid A Abubakar, Ms Lamya Al-Khraisha, Dr Clare Amos, Dr Usman Muhammad Bugaje, Mr Sulayman Hart, Dr Gina Lende, Rt Rev. Prof Emele Mba Uka, Rev. Dr Yusuf Ibrahim Wushishi, Dr Yakubu Joseph and Ms Marietta Ruhland.