We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analysing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and goodwill - Neville Chamberlain
‘Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings’- 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV)
What is a Forum?
A forum is a place, situation, or group in which people exchange ideas and discuss issues, especially important public and community issues. In ancient Roman towns, the forum was a square where people met to discuss business and political matters.
A forum is a meeting place, platform or arena where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged. It is a situation or meeting in which people can talk about a problem or matter, especially of public interest. A forum is a place where people can exchange opinions and ideas on particular issues or a meeting organised for this purpose.
It is a place for social and community action and collaboration. Social action is about people coming together to help improve lives and solve the problems that are important in their communities.
What is a Multi-faith Forum (MFF)?
It should be a platform where people of different faiths can engage in dialogue and collaborate in order to bring about social and community benefit. It should address common issues on a local level.
A Multi-Faith Forum in the Workplace
Even though the MFF is sometimes used as a mechanism to integrate ‘faith groups’ as a means of convenience, there should be no reason why an organisation should not support more than one faith group. Theoretically, a MFF is a platform not for religious integration, but for dialogue and community action; a place where one seeks to work with others to promote the welfare of colleagues in the workplace. The overall working relationship between different faith groups should be shaped and developed within the parameters of the organisation’s structures, eg Diversity and Inclusion and in the daily interactions within a healthy workplace environment. Given the support and understanding of the various faith groups, the MFF can develop into a vibrant Staff Network within, and contributing to the overall Diversity Framework.
Does a MFF allow Christians to live out their Faith?
People of different faiths normally function perfectly well and effectively alongside one another on a day to day basis during the course of work. This does not mean that their individual faith/beliefs are compromised in anyway.
Engaging in dialogue with other diversity groups, and whenever possible, working together, strengthens diversity groups as a whole and helps to bring a positive influence into the workplace. This however also depends on the organisation’s expectations and the structures in place.
It is most important that Christian Workplace Group (CWG) see themselves as part of the overall Diversity Framework and act in a corporate way. How this is achieved is something to be discussed and decided within the CWG.
Potential tensions with other faith groups can be avoided by identifying opportunities to work with them. Multi-faith events or projects can be organised which are useful in developing and cementing good working relationships. Multi-faith projects for instance could develop materials on how teams can work together when there is a diverse range of beliefs and cultures within a team.
Within a MFF it is important to identify common ground as well as areas of potential difference. Where there are differences, seek to find a resolution. When common ground cannot be found, admit there are differences but keep a courteous and respectful attitude. Remember one negative comment by a Christian concerning the beliefs, lifestyles or choices of others can do damage to people’s views of the Christian faith.
Some benefits of a Multi-Faith Forum:
It is a platform for dialogue for the common good of the organisation
It is an opportunity to learn about world religions
It is an opportunity to have an equal platform to share what you believe with those of other faiths
It is an opportunity to learn how to advocate effectively for your faith
It is an opportunity to develop the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ as you may sometimes disagree with others, but always remain civil and respectful
It is an opportunity to break down barriers and stereotypes
Jesus Christ engaged with people of different faiths and values (the Gospel of John). Also, the Apostle Paul engaged with people of different faiths (the book of Acts). Accordingly participating in a MFF follows in this tradition.
However, alongside this, all Christians should seek organisational recognition for a distinct CWG within the organisation where they will be free to support one another and others according to the teachings of the Christian Faith. If that can be achieved, then the Christian contribution to the organisation, through the CWG working with others in a MFF will be more effective.
Remember, the TWUK team is here to assist you.