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Report 2016

Foreword to the 2016 Annual Report by Simon Xavier Guerrand-Hermès.

We see ourselves as a non-affiliated institution who will support holistic visions of human well-being from the spiritual to the societal in the areas of education, dialogue, and livelihood under the broad umbrella of peacefulness.
We have developed working conception of human-centred education, an education that respects the child or young person as such and which makes his or her development its primary content. Thanks to our partners, this year we have been able to develop a pre-pilot project in a state secondary school in Brighton, which is an important step towards a more complete implementation of a HCE programme. The publication of the Human Centred Education Handbook by Routledge is also a significant step in this direction. We have been able to develop a closer partnership with the China National Training Centre for Primary School Leaders, and to share our understanding with educational experts in Europe and Asia.
This doesn’t mean that the GHFP is only wedded to one conception of good education. We have supported several other kinds of educational projects around the world, including a Youth Camp in Kalimantan, Indonesia and refugee education in Lebanon.
In recent years mutual understanding has been an important focus for the GHFP. We maintain support for efforts to spread understanding of the transformation power of forgiveness, especially in post-conflict situations, through the Healing the Wounds of History project in Lebanon. However, we also recognise the need for different kinds of dialogue forums that can touch the heart of peoples’ lives, and open up a deeper recognition and appreciation of people quite different from oneself. This has become an urgent need concerning political ideologies. In this regard, we hope sincerely that our work in Hungary, which shows the transformational power of the sharing of life-histories, will be useful in other parts of the world. Because of the deep importance of understanding how different dialogue spaces can work, we continue to contribute and learn from international forums such as the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the Initiative of Change.

Furthermore, supporting inter-religious dialogues has always been an important part of our work. This is for two primary reasons. First, human spirituality is at the core of our mission because of its central importance to human well-being, to the ethical respect of others and to peacefulness. Second, this importance requires that the religious communities of the world understand each other better. For these reasons, we continue to be engaged with the activities of interfaith organizations such as the World Subud Association and initiatives such as that to create a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham.
The GHFP has a growing interest in the practical meanings of peacefulness for socio-economic institutions and for governance. In this regard, we are very happy to have been active in the Spirit of Humanity Forum, and to learn from our partners, their vision of how governance in practice can become forms of deep caring. It has been inspiring to see human values at work for instance in the governance of the city of Reykjavik.
Thank you very much to the trustees, officers and staff of the GHFP. It is my great pleasure to thank the partners of the GHFP and to extend a warm thank-you to all the organizations with whom we have collaborated this year.

Please review or download the 2016 Annual Report

International Seminar 2014

International Seminar on Memory, Trauma and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding
4th April 2014
Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace,
Brighton. UK.

The aim of this seminar entitled ‘Memory, Trauma and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding’ was to explore the healing of traumatic memories in post-conflict recovery, reconstruction and peacebuilding. Our invited key speaker, Professor Vamik Volkan, drew on his nearly 40 years’ experiences in the field of international relations and peace-related diplomacy and investigate the inextricable links between large group identity, conflict and dehumanisation of the other. Vamik analysed the formation large group identities, the shared traumas of mass violence and the societal/political consequences of such atrocities. He also examined the need to interrupt the trans-generational transmissions of trauma by healing past memories, as well as the imperative to develop psychoanalytically informed diplomatic strategies for dealing with associated peacebuilding challenges.

For discussion, we critically engaged with these topics, and examined how to remove the ‘sting’ in individuals’ memories of trauma so that they no longer serve as an impetus for continued violence.

Here are some of the questions that the seminar set out to explore:

(1) What are the effective approaches to enable individuals and groups to break away from the hold of traumatic memories?
(2) What kind of structural processes must be in place in order to engage in healing of memories?
(3) How can individuals have healthier conceptions of their group identities that do not involve making potential enemies of the other?

Professor Vamik Volkan is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine; an emeritus training and supervising psychoanalyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute; and the Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Amongst his many posts, Vamik also headed an interdisciplinary team and conducted years-long unofficial diplomatic dialogues between Arabs and Israelis, Americans and Soviets, Russians and Estonians, Croats and Bosnian Muslims, Georgians and South Ossetians, Turks and Greeks and studied post-revolution or post-war societies such as Albania after the dictator Enver Hodxa was gone and Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion was over. After September 11, 2001 he was a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association’s (IPA’s) Terror and Terrorism Study Group.

The Seminar’s discussant was Professor Nigel Young who has been active in transnational peace activity for at least a half century. He is presently Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Oxford International Encyclopedia of World Peace’ (a four-volume reference work). He is active in the Balkans Peace Park Project, UK (B3P). He has authored numerous publications including six books (two co-authored), and edited or co-edited others. A co-founder of the first Peace Studies department in Britain (Bradford, 1973/4), he was also the first endowed Peace Studies Chair-holder in the USA. As Professor of Peace Studies he was director of one of the earliest university Peace Studies Programs in North America (Colgate University, New York 1984-2004) where he retains the title of Research Professor. Professor Young has held academic positions in sociology, politics and peace studies, at over a dozen universities and colleges worldwide, and was a Senior Peace Research fellow in Oslo, Norway (1981-84). He is currently working on books on Historical Memory as related to peace, and the community basis of resistance. In 20l2 he received the Dayton Peace Prize for outstanding scholarly achievement.

Seminar attendee Biographies

Prof Volkan is Founder of the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI) which aims to facilitate dialogue between representatives from various large groups, states and cultures for the purpose of learning about differences in perspective and finding peaceful solutions to inter-group relationship problems.

Symposium 2014. Charter for Forgiveness

Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Press Release. April 2014

International Symposium on Forgiveness and Reconciliation,
2 April 2014, Nishkam Centre, Birmingham, UK
A very successful Symposium co-sponsored by the Fetzer Institute, the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and the Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace took place on 2 April in Birmingham, UK.

Leading thinkers and activists from many peacemaking and reconciliation organizations gathered in Birmingham both for networking and for the preparation of future collaborative activities. The event was led by Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, spiritual leader and Chairman of GNNSJ and Co-convenor of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation Project and by Dr. Josef Boehle, Director of the Charter Project. Dr William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace International is also a Co-convenor of the Charter project.

charter_gnnsj

The day’s agenda for discussion about the development of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation included deliberations on some key questions and critical issues such as the role for forgiveness within the contexts of justice, reconciliation and peace-building. Please review the schedule for the symposium with a list of the presenters, chairs and moderators Symposium 2014.

The Symposium served as a springboard to action on establishing the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation in 2015. The proposed Charter aims to inspire and engage individuals, groups and communities, in public processes and in private settings, appealing to humanity to practice genuine forgiveness and reconciliation, seeking justice and sustainable peace.

The proposed Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation will draw upon values, stories and examples from sacred texts and from different spiritual traditions, from religious/spiritual communities, and from the lives of outstanding individuals. With such paradigms, the Charter will direct commitment and activities towards a growing practice of forgiveness and reconciliation which humanity desperately needs in a fractured world.

The draft text for the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is now being developed. The whole collaborative chartering process is likely to take a number of years, to allow for substantial input from a wide range of worldviews, backgrounds, expertise and insights.
The vision behind the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is that forgiving is an activity necessary for healing and reconciliation to take place, when seeking justice and sustainable peace.

Please also refer to the co-sponsor, Fetzer Institute Charter feature page.

International Seminar 2013

International Seminar on Healing, Forgiveness and Reconciliation
25th October 2013
Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace,
199 Preston Road, Brighton, BN1 6SA UK.

Background..
Healing, Forgiveness, Reconciliation. These concepts are often used interchangeably in discussions, for example about post-conflict peacebuilding. The distinctions between the terms is not clear by nuance, how they relate to each-other, and how such relationships are played out in the dynamic of interventions towards peace. It is therefore necessary to develop an appropriate clarity of understanding of these terms to help shape our work in fostering harmonious relationships and in analyzing the task of rebuilding communities in divided societies.

Furthermore, for peace-building processes aimed at healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, there may be a whole range of contiguous analytical factors to identify and understand.  For instance, in looking at the nature and roots of conflict, it is necessary to acquire a workable comprehension of the local cultural norms, power relationships, historical narratives and memories, politics, social policy, and religious and spiritual practices. All these invariably affect the individual and large group identities, which could further determine people’s perceptions of and attitudes towards the other, and the ways they related to each other in post-conflict societies.

Additionally, the dimensions of moral and ethical principles must also be considered in framing any emergent culture of peace, and in working towards underpinning relation-formation within the society, including the perennial tension between justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. So, showing with clarity how all these factors are interrelated can help us to determine actions and interventions aimed at healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.

There is, moreover, a wide diversity of perspectives and disciplines from which and through which a professional practitioner on the ground could approach post-conflict situations. These can be simultaneously psychological, therapeutic, socio-political, educational, communal, theological, spiritual, legalistic, or rights-based. These all require deliberation, contextual understanding and professionalism.

While such terminological and analytical complexity may fascinate us, it can also serve to obscure our ideas in theory and our practice. The complexity challenges us to reach for more profound insights into post-conflict peace processes and to work on developing deeper understanding to guide our practice.

The GHFP Seminar on Healing, Forgiveness and Reconciliation
For over a decade, the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP) has been exploring some key concepts in peacebuilding, including those mentioned above. Throughout, for example, our ‘Garden of Forgiveness’ project, the ‘Healing the Wounds of History’ programmes, as well as the narrative strands in our work, we have been concerned with seeking new understanding and clarification. We would like, at this time, to explore these notions through discussion with distinguished colleagues.

So the aim of the seminar is two-fold:

a. To develop a shared understanding and observation of these concepts.
b. To explore how this understanding can be translated into practices and actions on the ground, and what challenges and opportunities are involved.

Questions explored were:

1. Why are these three concepts important in post-conflict peace-building? Does one need to come first before the others can follow?
2. What kind of intervention work well and what doesn’t with a focus on healing, forgiveness and reconciliation help transform conflict and develop trusting relationships amongst individuals and communities?
3. Are there ways in which the same transformation could take place in a conflict situation before violence breaks out?
4. What shared understanding do we have of the three concepts for post-conflict reconstruction, and peacebuilding in general?

It is very unusual for a national government to initiate a nationwide campaign aimed at reconciliation, so the nearly twenty years of accumulated experience of the Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) is unique and has a global importance. This is why we have invited Dr Jean Baptiste Habyalimana to give the opening presentation. At the same time, we hope that Jean Baptiste’s reflection on the Rwandan journeys could also provide a nudge to help us expand our thinking and to initiate a conversation around the key questions.

Read the notes from the seminar

Rwanda HWH Conference 2012

International Workshops on ‘HEALING THE WOUNDS OF HISTORY: ADDRESSING THE ROOTS OF VIOLENCE’ were proposed jointly by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, in collaboration with the Mizero Foundation and the Rwandan Professional Dreamers, and with support from the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide and the National University of Rwanda.

It was held at Hotel Rwanda in Kigali on June 13-14 2012. The event was opened by Bishop Dr John Rucyahana, the President of Rwanda National Unity & Reconciliation Commission.

The main aim of the event was to explore the psychological roots of violence in recent Rwanda, and to identify new modalities of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness, between both individuals and groups.

To learn more about the conference, please visit the official Healing the Wounds of History RWANDA page.

International Symposium 2012

International Symposium on Religion Spirituality and Education for Human Flourishing.
24-26 FEBRUARY 2012, Dar Moulay Boubkar, Marrakech, Morocco.
Co-Convened by Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace and UN Alliance of Civilizations ‘Education about Religions and Beliefs’ Project.

An edited book of papers, ISBN 978-1-137-37389-2 is published by Palgrave Macmillan. The book is entitled: RE-DEFINING RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: SPIRITUALITY for HUMAN FLOURISHING. Please visit the Official publication page.

INTRODUCTION : For a large proportion of the people in the world, spirituality is an important part of being human and often thought to be an essential element of a flourishing life. Today’s world is facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities, and so there is a pressing need to educate in order to develop a deeper awareness of the spiritual dimensions of our lives. In this context, we are interested specifically in exploring the part that religious education can play in cultivating human virtues and spirituality. Under various names, such as ‘education about religion’, ‘faith education,’ ‘religious studies,’ and ‘religious education,’ the teaching of religious beliefs has already been integrated into the national curricula of many countries. However, the focus of religious education is generally to impart knowledge about religions, and perhaps gesture towards some inter-religious understanding. This way of approaching religious education tends to regard religion as an academic subject, and because such education is at arms-length, the spiritual and experiential aspects of religion are not made directly available to students.
The Symposium will aim to go beyond the current knowledge-centred approaches to religious education and offers a space to discuss and debate the following questions:

In what ways can education of/from religions better contribute to young people’s spirituality and to the flourishing of their lives?
How can these contributions of religions be better integrated in schooling?

OBJECTIVES : The objectives of the Symposium are:

To establish a common platform or framework for understanding the positive contributions of religions towards spirituality;
To identify the ways in which educational systems can facilitate or nurture such spirituality;
To examine the pedagogical implications and challenges of such educational programmes;
To identify a set of good questions for further inquiries and possible research.

METHODOLOGY and PROCESSES : Prior to the Symposium, each of the participants will write a scholarly paper to address some aspect of the main questions that the Symposium aims to explore. These papers will be circulated to all the participants before the event and will serve as resources for the discussions/conversations during the event. The Symposium is envisaged to last three days. Each day, there will be plenary sessions, group discussions, and optional sessions of religious and spiritual practices offered by the participants from their own traditions.

Visit the Official UNAoC/ERB site for Education About Religions

Lebanon HWH Conference 2011

Healing the Wounds of History conference 2011 was the major launch event please refer to the official website or follow the community on facebook.com/hwharv


Under the High Patronage of His Excellency, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr Najib Mikati, the Centre for Lebanese Studies and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, in partnership with the Institute of Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation, have organised the International Conference on ‘Healing the Wounds of History: Addressing the Roots of Violence’. The Conference was hosted by the Lebanese American University on 11-13 November 2011 at its’ campus situated in the beautiful ancient city of Byblos, Lebanon.

The Conference explored the innovative psycho-social approaches to addressing the deeper roots of violence. The goal was to establish constructive relations between the people and communities in present-day Lebanon. Read the Concept Paper

Click here to download a Summary of the Keynote Address and the Power Point Presentation given by Professor Vamik Volkan.

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focus
to raise awareness about the need to resolve historical grievances as a step towards social harmony in Lebanon and beyond

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resource
to help people learn more about the diverse approaches to addressing the roots of conflict and cycles of violence in our society

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vision
to catalyze a process that will implement the key insights and methods from the Conference through a series of nationwide projects that touch all communities

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh

Museum of World Religions

Welcome to the Museum of World Religions, and introducing to you this planning and co-ordination phase of a Project to establish a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham, England.
The project was inspired and initiated by the Dharma Master Hsin Tao who founded the first Museum of World Religions in Taiwan.

The focus of the project is to establish a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham. This may alternatively be named the ‘UNESCO Centre of World Religions’ or the ‘UNESCO Centre of Inter-Religious Understanding’. It is envisaged to be a world-class institution, probably in a multi-storey, purpose-built building, along the lines of the great museums of the world.

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 religion or faith. 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.

Many partners are contributing both creatively and financially to this project in order to help develop its concept, content and direction.In November 2010, the MWR (UK)’s workgroup convened a one-day symposium to discuss the project’s Concept Paper, in consultation with scholars and leaders from the diverse faith communities in Birmingham.


Please refer to the Concept Paper.

Please do Contact us by email
Museum of World Religions
UK Charity registration number 1134301


Museum of World Religions Concept 2010

THE MUSEUM OF WORLD RELIGIONS (UK PROJECT)
CONCEPT PAPER
22nd September 2010

Table of Contents
A. INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
B. MISSION ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2
C. GOALS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
D. APPROACHES ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
E. QUALITIES …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
F. PROGRAMMES …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
G. PRACTICAL ASPECTS …………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
MEMBERS OF THE WORKING COMMITTEE ………………………………………………………….. 6

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A. INTRODUCTION
This proposal is to establish a world-class Museum of World Religions in Birmingham (possibly to have the status of a ‘UNESCO Museum of World Religions’). What is envisaged is an inspiring, outstanding, and innovative educational and cultural institution, along the lines of the great museums of the world, such as can be found in the National Mall in Washington, DC (USA). Its prime purpose will be to showcase ideas and values rather than artefacts. It will be housed in a purpose-built building, which will itself be inspiring, outstanding, and innovative.
The idea to create such a museum in Birmingham was inspired by the Museum of World Religions in Taiwan, which was founded by Dharma Master Hsin Tao. The Birmingham project, while supported by the museum in Taiwan, is an autonomous initiative. This Concept Paper was prepared by a working committee consisting of individuals from diverse religious and non-religious backgrounds; their names are listed at the foot of this document.
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.
We have considered a variety of locations in the UK and come to the conclusion that Birmingham is the most suitable site for this project. This is because of its central location in the UK, its European character, the strong and diverse religious communities in the city, and its history of interest in and support of religion generally. Birmingham also has an international airport and excellent conference facilities.
The project has received outline support from the key entities in Birmingham: the University of Birmingham: office of the Vice-Principal. It also has the academic support of the Department of Theology and Religion, which is among the largest university departments of Religious Studies in the country, as well as from
(a) the UNESCO Chair in Interfaith Studies based in the same Department (the only UNESCO Chair in this field in the UK).
(b) UNESCO: the UK National Commission for UNESCO.
(c) Birmingham City Council.
(d) Religious and faith communities in the city.
The support of the above four is dependent on precise financial and contractual relationships, yet to be determined. We believe that it is appropriate for the Museum to be affiliated with UNESCO, which has so far established fifteen Chairs in Interfaith Studies across the world (linked together in a common ‘UNITWIN’ programme), and which enjoys wide respect for its commitment to cultural diversity, intercultural understanding, and an unbiased approach to the social issues centring on religion. It will follow the UNESCO definition of the aim of a museum––to develop and transform society.
The Museum is to be regarded as a common space for the many religious communities in Birmingham, and to reflect the central importance of religion in human life. It would not have any particular religious or political affiliation. The project would have an educational value for the general public and would be the first of its kind in Europe, possibly the first in the world (outside Taiwan). It would lead the way.

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B. MISSION
The mission of the Museum is to:
1. 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;
2. Cultivate mutual understanding and respect between the major religions by helping people from different backgrounds become more aware of the rich diversity of religions, thereby addressing the social needs of a culturally pluralist and multi-religious society in context;
3. Show the complexity of the difficult issues that religious traditions face in the modern world, such as the encounter between religion and science, and the desire to hold on to ancient principles and venerate sacred texts whilst simultaneously embracing change;
4. Encourage the recognition of the importance of inter-religious dialogue and religious education as vehicles contributing to social stability and world peace;
5. Serve as a major educational resource for teachers and students of theology and Religious Education in Britain, Europe, and beyond;
6. Exemplify UNESCO’s four pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be, as expressed in Learning: the Treasure Within, the report of the UNESCO International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century (1996).

C. GOALS
The Museum has the following broad goals:
1. To provide an opportunity for people of different backgrounds to get to know, understand, respect, and learn from each other, including a respect for diversity and for each other’s religions;
2. To become a national and European resource for religious education and provide information about religion in general as well as specific religions;
3. To celebrate the role and relevance of religion, both for individuals and for society;
4. To stimulate constructive and critical reflection on the role of religion in our global society;
5. To nurture a religious consciousness of love, compassion, and sharing, and an understanding of how religion can provide individuals with comfort and reassurance, and answer the need for hope;
6. To show how shared values can serve as a link between religions;
7. To create an atmosphere that stimulates spiritual awareness and a sense of humility;
8. To offer a sacred space for worship that can touch people’s hearts and minds, generate goodness, and inspire people to stand up for justice.

D. APPROACHES
The Museum intends to approach these goals by
1. showing what religion has to offer, in terms of love, compassion, humility, generosity, hospitality, wisdom, caring, peace of mind, and other qualities;

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2. offering a safe space where people from diverse backgrounds can meet, talk, and––especially––listen to each other;
3. providing rich information about the world’s religions as well as meaningful experiences and encounter for all visitors, especially young people and other learners;
4. presenting the world’s religions thematically as well as through materials on each religion, in a way that is interesting to people of different faiths and to those without a religion;
5. showing two sides of religion: (a) the internal (religion as it functions for the individual): how religion provides wisdom and can thereby elevate and purify the human heart and spirit, and (b) the external (religion as it functions in society): both the positive aspects, through the emphasis on love and compassion, family and community life, education, moral and social values, and also the negative aspects, such as extremism, triumphalism, sexism, coercion, violence, and war;
6. challenging scepticism and encouraging people to explore how better to incorporate religious values into their daily lives.

E. QUALITIES
The museum would embody the following qualities:
1. Inclusiveness
The Museum will have a spirit of inclusiveness (including gender inclusiveness), which extends to those who have no religion or religious affiliation, and practical solutions will be sought so as to be inclusive of all the world’s religions;
2. Simplicity
The Museum will be characterised by simplicity, so that it can be accessible to all visitors including children;
3. Beauty
The Museum and its surroundings should be beautiful; so that people will be drawn to visit it from far and wide for its attractiveness, even if for no other reason;
4. Celebration
The Museum will be a celebration of religion, rather than being defensive and apologetic;
5. Living phenomenon
The Museum will be lively and inspiring, showing that religion is a living phenomenon;
6. Interactivity and accessibility
The Museum will use cutting-edge interactive technology and be accessible to a broad audience, a living space rather than isolated exhibits of artefacts that are no longer useful;
7. Unity, diversity, and controversies
The Museum will include themes of unity, diversity, and controversies:
 with regard to unity, the Museum will focus on the core inner or spiritual aspects of religion, as well as the outer social aspects of religions; it will also highlight shared values through approaches that are both intellectual and experiential;
 with regard to diversity, the Museum will include that which is different and difficult. This means that it will not only emphasise commonalities and differences amongst religions, but also raise difficult questions, e.g. conflicts between and within religions, false/forced and

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materially induced conversion, gender bias in religions, martyrdom, and the involvement of religions in historical and present-day conflict, war, and terrorism.
 with regard to controversies, the Museum will not aim to create controversy, but rather to show the complexity of religious issues, including constitutional matters (such as the notion of freedom of religion, or the separation of church and state).
8. Sharing and outreach
The Museum will strive to reach as wide a range of people as possible, by catering to individuals of both elementary and advanced levels of knowledge about religion. The Museum intends to attract religious leaders of all faiths to become actively involved in its work and to become patrons of its message to secular society.
9. Transformation
Through its programmes for and within communities, the Museum will be a catalyst for change and transformation, greater inter-religious understanding, and for peaceful living together;

F. PROGRAMMES
The Museum has seven programmes:
Permanent Exhibition
Through its permanent exhibitions,
 the Museum will express the nobility of religion to all audiences, including people of no religion. The core is to show the values and practices that religion can offer to secular society;
 the Museum will create a space for spiritual practices, e.g. worship, meditation and prayer. Representatives from religious communities should be available to visitors to communicate about their religions;
 the Museum will provide opportunity for encounter with sacred experiences, for instance through music and art, as important components of religious experience.
The exhibitions will consist of two main elements:
(a) mapping out the geographical and historical origins of the world’s religions and their influences on particular cultures, and how religions have developed over time (including the development of their sacred sites). The idea is to show the inter-connectedness of religions and how they may be viewed as a jigsaw puzzle, coming from and inspired by the same source, but appearing and interacting in different spaces and times.
(b) a thematic approach to a series of topics. Each theme will include three or four religions on a rotating basis, and will address what a particular religion has to say about a specific subject, such as morals and values, family, education, hospitality, the life cycle, ecology, the immigrant experience, and other topics including unity, diversity, and controversies as described above. In this way the intention is to enable particular religions to express what they wish to say on specific topics. Rotating the contributions of different religions will maintain freshness and encourage visitors to return.

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For practical reasons, the emphasis will be on the main religions of the world. Religions that cannot be given adequate exposure will nevertheless be provided for, either by touch screens in the permanent exhibition space or by temporary exhibitions. It is proposed that the Museum will not have its own permanent art collection or seek to acquire one; rather it will collaborate with other museums to exhibit materials on a loans basis.
Temporary exhibitions
The Museum expects to maintain appropriate links with other institutions, and to sponsor joint exhibitions and similar projects. Visual and other tangible aspects of religious culture will be included, such as art, food, festivals, rituals, the beauty of calligraphy, and so on. This can open people’s eyes and hearts to what their neighbours do.
Special events and interfaith meetings
The Museum may host special events proposed by any religious community or communities, including the celebration of religious festivals as appropriate, and provide a venue for interfaith meetings and other activities.
Community outreach
The Museum will provide a link with places of worship in the local community.
Seminars and educational work
The Museum will benefit from collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group, and interfaith organizations in the city of Birmingham and the West Midlands in many aspects, such as holding conferences, lectures, and seminars; and also with a programme of interfaith studies. It will accommodate the needs of researchers and be sensitive to students who wish to serve as volunteers and interns.
Dialogue and conflict resolution
The Museum will be a neutral place for inter-religious dialogue, and for religions in conflict to meet. This will enhance community harmony and social cohesion at local and national levels.
Website and other publications
The Museum will have an interactive and informative website; and from time to time sponsor publications such as catalogues and other publications as appropriate.

G. PRACTICAL ASPECTS
1. Architecture
The Museum will be twenty-first-century state-of-the-art, for example by using large spaces (possibly including a central atrium) so as to allow visitors a sense of freedom in exploring the building and its exhibitions on several floors. Specific provision will be made for an important element of the building to have the atmosphere of a living, sacred space suitable for worship, contemplation, and prayer; a large auditorium, to enable important special events to be held at the Museum; smaller meeting rooms, for the benefit of local interfaith groups to hold their events; and an outdoor garden, to facilitate both personal meditation and public cultural festivals from time to time.
2. Facilities for visitors
In keeping with its character as a world-class, visitor-friendly institution, the Museum will include a Visitors Information Desk, supplying leaflets showing the content and location of the different elements of the Museum’s exhibitions; a cinema showing a short, specially commissioned orientation film introducing visitors to the subject-matter of the Museum; other, smaller rooms with facilities for groups to watch a video, hear a short lecture by their guide, and engage in a discussion; booths with touch screens to enable visitors to explore specific topics, become involved in personal question-and-

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answer sessions about their opinions (for example, on ethical issues), or turn the pages of sacred texts and the great religious books; a good bookshop (stocking both popular and scholarly publications on the world’s religions and religious studies in general, as well as appropriate religious souvenirs from across the world); programmes and facilities that are family-friendly; convenient access for the disabled; and a food hall with a variety of self-service facilities offering food deriving from the different culinary traditions of the world’s religions.
3. Personnel
The first formal step that has been taken to establish this Museum is the creation in 2010 of a Charitable Trust (registered in the UK), whose trustees have been drawn from among the members of the working committee listed below. The trustees recognize, however, that the practical aspects of taking the project forward will require a very wide range of suitably qualified personnel, to include the following specializations, headed by a project manager, an exhibition designer, and a curatorial team: exhibition fabrication, mount making, production support, graphics, media production, photographic services, conservation, collections management, interactive graphics and software, publications editor, community services, external affairs and development, and a fundraising director.
4. Community consultations
Consultations with the faith communities will constitute the most creative part of the Museum’s development, by providing community curators and exploring how it is hoped that visitors will experience the Museum of World Religions––and, thereby, assisting the planners achieve a project which is worthy of its name.

MEMBERS OF THE WORKING COMMITTEE
Josef Boehle, Coordinator of the UNESCO Chair in Interfaith Studies, University of Birmingham
*Rodney Dodds, Reader Emeritus, Church of England
Marius Felderhof, Senior Lecturer, Dept. Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham
Scherto Gill, Research Fellow, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Brighton, UK
*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, UK
Tuti Horthy, Trustee, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Brighton, UK
*Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Founder, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
*Kurt Schreiber, Advisor, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
*Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham
Sukhbir Singh, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham
Garrett Thomson, Professor of Philosophy, College of Wooster, Ohio
Connie Webber, Managing Editor, Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, Oxford
*Jonathan Webber, Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Interfaith Studies, University of Birmingham
*Trustees of the Museum of World Religions (UK).
MWR (UK) is registered as a Charity in the UK. Registration No: 1134301