Sunday, November 10, 2013

Final Phase of Dialogue Conference: Scottish House of Parliament - Where we go from here

Participants of the dialogue conference in the Chambers of the House
of Parliament of Scotland. Mrs. Elayne Smith, the member of Parliament
who sponsored our event is dressed in red in the center front.
The final phase of our dialogue conference included a panel discussion at the Scottish House of Parliament on Saturday evening and Sunday morning was a time to reflect on what has been done and to see where this dialogue should lead us all.

Chris Stedman acted as our ambassador of the conference as we attempted to expand the audience of the dialogue with other guests and to place the dialogue of believers of faith and atheists in the public eye. Chris recounted the work of the participants and in his view the meaning of bringing peoples of differing faiths and viewpoints in order to build a better world. The panel, led by Fr. Carl Chudy (Xaverian Missionary), offered their own points of
views. The panel included Sr. Isabel Smythe, Secretary of the Interfaith Committee of the Scottish Catholic Bishops, Rory Fenton, of the humanist community, Fr. John Silavon, Maryknoll Missioner and Prerna Abbi of the Interfaith Youth Corp.

The final morning was an opportunity to take the most crucial issues and challenges that each of the participants felt arose within the conference and see concretely how we could both continue the dialogue, encourage others to participate and work together on a concrete issue that requires our collective efforts as atheists and religious believers. The Xaverian Missionaries, along with the Scottish Interfaith Council will see to having a yearly gathering of humanists, atheists and religious believers. All participants also pledged to return to their organizations and faith communities to also encourage this openness and dialogue. Finally, the Xaverian Missionaries of the UK and USA are looking to bring this dialogue between atheists and religious believers to the United States in the near future.

In a short period of time we became great friends and we hope to share the gift of dialogue across faith and perspective boundaries in all of our communities. We hope this dialogue leads us to collective efforts to heal the injustice and pain of our families and societies. Together so much more is possible.


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