The Grass Roots Dialogue Project is the latest program initiated by the CCJ to promote engagement between Christians and Jews. The aim of the Project is to offer a “taster” of what dialogue is about to members of Christian and Jewish communities in their home congregations. This may be the first opportunity for many Christians and Jews in our communities to address someone from the other faith specifically about their religious tradition. We hope that the Project will contribute towards creating a spirit of respect between religions and awaken an interest in increasing interfaith engagement more widely among the faith communities in Victoria.
To accomplish this aim we have trained a dozen Jews and Christians to present their religious traditions and personal faith stories to those of the other faith. The focus is on how the experiences of their distinctive religious traditions have led them to value engagement in interfaith dialogue. The process of recruiting and training the Presenters has taken a number of months and has involved holding four training sessions, with a refresher session to come in April.
At the same time, we have approached approximately 40 Jewish and Christian communities across the denominations to participate in the Project as hosts for our visits during the course of their worship services or at other appropriate times. We have currently booked 22 visits over February–June, with potential for six-eight more. This is excellent take-up. The Presenters will carry out their visits in mixed pairs, and each presentation will include time for questions and comments from the congregation. There will be regular feedback from both presenters and also volunteer liaison representatives from each community. The liaisons will in effect carry on the conversation within the congregation after our departure.
All the stakeholders in the Project will soon be invited to a major debriefing Workshop to be held on 28 June, 2.00-5.00pm, at the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation’s Adele Southwick Hall, Charnwood Grove (off Alma Road), St Kilda. The aim of this Workshop is to appraise the initial successes and weaknesses of the Project and to plan for future activities in this area. We expect a turn-out of approximately 75 participants.
None of this could have been achieved without the support of our sponsors, whom we acknowledge below, the Project’s Advisory Board and of the Executive Committee of the Victorian Council of Christians and Jews, under whose auspices the Project is being run.
Rabbi Fred Morgan AM
P R O J E C T S P O N S O R S
|Australian Catholic University||Fitzroy North Community Church||Temple Beth Israel, St Kilda|