News Release

European Church Communication seminar focuses on interfaith dialogue

“Seek the peace of the city” – these words from the Biblical book of Jeremiah served as a theme for a seminar for volunteer communication officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Delegates from across the Church’s Europe Central Area gathered with leadership and full-time staff in the German city of Friedrichsdorf on 15-17 September 2023 to discuss impactful community outreach and interfaith dialogue.

“An important part of your work is relationship building,” said Elder Jack N. Gerard, Second Counselor in the Europe Central Area presidency, in a video address to seminar attendees. Church representatives are “understanding and working with interfaith groups, governmental groups, and community groups,” he explained.

During the seminar, the group visited sanctuaries from two different faith traditions. They began their three-day meeting with a visit to the Frankfurt Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Saturday afternoon, they traveled to Hofheim-Langenhain, where they were hosted by Jörg Krombach and Renate Bottmann at the Baháʼí House of Worship. During a brief devotional, words from the sacred writings of the Baháʼí and the Bible were quoted.

A panel on “Promoting peace through interfaith dialogue” moderated by Brigham Young University student Rebecca Doney featured four distinguished experts: Dr. Michael Schmiedel, a lecturer in comparative studies on religions at Bielefeld University serving on the leadership of Religions for Peace and the Religious Studies Media and Information Service, Pastor Jens-Oliver Mohr, German Secretary General of the International Association for the Defence of Religious Liberty and director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Department of Interchurch Relations in Germany, journalist and writer Khola Maryam Hübsch, and Francesco Di Lillo, director of the European Union and International Affairs Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Listening attentively to those of different beliefs is a prerequisite to meaningful and peaceful dialogue, Dr. Schmiedel said. Being slow to disagree and seeking common ground instead helps prevent and overcome animosity, Hübsch added. From a Christian perspective, all were created in God’s image, Pastor Mohr explained. Disagreeing with others on religious matters should not cause anybody to feel or show disrespect. Di Lillo referred to Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and efforts by European institutions to facilitate meetings and seminars with churches and non-confessional and philosophical organisations.

Other seminar sessions focused on building relationships with news media and opinion leaders as well as using digital channels to share messages of hope and peace. Attendees had the opportunity to share experiences from their respective countries and engage in discussions with each other.

Seminar participants represented Church congregations from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland.

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