WCC hosts historic Sikh-Christian Dialogue in face of “growing need for lasting peace”

Religious leaders from different faiths light up a lamp together as musicians play some music in the background. Photo: Rhoda Mphande/WCC

The World Council of Churches (WCC) hosted a Sikh-Christian dialogue on 5 July with the theme “Pursuing Peace in a Pluralistic World” to commemorate the 550th birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first guru of the Sikhs.

The event brought together about 40 religious leaders, scholars and independent activists from the Christian and Sikh traditions.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed great joy for the first official WCC-hosted Christian-Sikh dialogue.

“This is an important year in the Sikh calendar as it marks the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak,” Tveit said. “Therefore, initiating this formal encounter between Christians and Sikhs during this year is a special way of commemorating the life and work of Guru Nanak.”

Tveit said “We are reminded each passing day in poignant ways of the growing need for lasting and sustainable peace,” he said. “The rise of xenophobia, violent extremism and populist nationalism attest to the urgency of faith communities to redouble our efforts and imagine new models for building peace.”

We can no longer afford the luxury of thinking and working as isolated entities, continued Tveit. “Rather, recognising the interdependent nature of our common existence, the time is ripe for us to think and act collaboratively, confronting and overcoming any divisive tendencies among and within us,” Tveit said. “In a world sharply divided by hate and fear the best way for religions to not be part of the problem, but be part of the solution, is to be part of the solution together.”

Guru Nanak emphasised universal kinship as the highest of religious aspirations and urged his followers to treat all human beings as brothers and sisters. This dialogue was centered on a holistic understanding of peace which is intrinsic to the Christian and Sikh faith traditions, bearing in mind that peace without justice is incomplete.

The gathering is attempting to foster a new partnership that can effectively decipher the signs of the times and offer responses which are courageous and committed.

WCC, oikoumene.org