Hospitality against prejudice

In Witten, North Rhine-Westphalia, Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus have been cultivating mutual hospitality for 25 years under the motto "Together on the Path to Peace – Dialogue of the Religions. The initiators are convinced that widespread cliches and images of the enemy can be corrected above all through personal experience. And their efforts are successful.

"All the inhabitants of the earth are neighbors," says a poem by Martin Luther King. According to Dortmund pastor Dietrich Schwarze, the path to peaceful coexistence also leads through the religious communities. Retired evangelical pastor gives face to movement in Witten. For more than a quarter of a century, he has devoted his free time to the dialogue of religions in the region. Especially at the local level, it is easy to experience that there are alternatives to the "clash of civilizations," explains Schwarze. "Islam" or "the Muslims" get a personal face as a work colleague or the neighbor. Widespread cliches about "the Turks", "the Greeks" or "the Albanians" are best dispelled in this way. The former parish priest is convinced that the spiritual level offers a special opportunity.Since 1989, Protestant and Catholic churches, mosques and community centers in Witten have taken turns inviting each other to pray for peace. This touches many and also promotes trust. The point is not to celebrate a joint service, but to make one's own voice heard by one another. Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Baha i now come together here.The Witten Dialogue of Religions is an exemplary project of the main template "Shaping Globalization!"The Evangelical Church of Westphalia is launching a campaign by the end of the year to promote a broad discussion within the church and in society. The project, which was launched in 2007, includes dialogue with representatives from a wide range of social sectors. Christianity has been ecumenical since its beginnings and is therefore also globally oriented, the publication says. With this project, the Westphalian Church wants to encourage all Christians to live their faith concretely in the everyday world of globalization.Since 1983, the dialog of religions in Witten has been supported by the international, interreligious peace movement "Religions for Peace" (RfP). It has been engaged in understanding and peace work since 1970. The aim is not to create a "one religion" or to mix religions, but rather to make the peace-promoting foundations of the religions visible: by getting to know each other, respecting each other and being faithful to one's own beliefs.In Witten, participants particularly appreciate flexibility. The encounters can unfold freely and outside rigid structures. The events are supported by women and men who have a very specific concern. The "hard core" consists of about 15 volunteers who are supported by other committed Witteners.After a visit to the new synagogue in Bochum, a panel discussion on the topic of "Living with disabilities" and various lectures, an excursion to the new mosque in Duisburg and an invitation to break the fast in Ramadan are on the agenda for the second half of the year. The Prayer for Peace of the Religions will then take place on 25. November in the Stockum Protestant Church in Witten.The concern of the religious communities in the dialogue found a symbolic expression in one of the actions last year: On a common peace path, the participants connected churches, mosques, the square of the former synagogue and the city hall with each other. At the various stations, prayers were said by the religious communities represented there for people in Witten and around the world.

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