Inter-faith Wales is an umbrella term which includes three separate bodies: the Faith Communities Forum (which is an organ of the current Wales Assembly Government), The Interfaith Council for Wales and the emerging Wales Inter-faith Network.
There is a clear need to foster a sense of shared Welsh
citizenship and lively engagement, which can encourage people to look beyond their individual communities. Faith and spiritual communities can play an important role in the future of a vibrant and cohesive Wales, and Inter-faith Wales hopes to
help that happen.
Membership of the Faith Communities Forum and Inter-faith Council is open to representatives of the following faiths:
Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity (Church in Wales, Churches Together in Wales – Cytûn, Evangelical Alliance Wales, Free Church Council, Roman Catholic Church in Wales), Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. In addition there is a new seat for hitherto unrepresented faith and spiritual communities on the Inter-faith Council.
THE INTERFAITH COUNCIL
The Inter-faith Council has access to the faith members of the Forum and can receive reports from them. It also reports issues to the Forum as a way of speaking to the Welsh Assembly Government. It came into being in 2003 and aims to be an independent meeting place for community representatives to
share faith to faith issues.
At a Council meeting on 17th March 2008 a new Constitution and Policies were approved which included revised aims:
- To advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teaching, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Wales
- To promote good relations between persons of different faiths and to be of service to the people of Wales
- To promote awareness of the distinctive features of these faith communities and of their common ground
The Council will now have a maximum of 35 seats with 22 seats for Faith Communities, 7 for Regional members and 6 for Individual Co-opted Members.
The regional representation is an innovative step, where members of regional inter-faith bodies represent their regions rather than their faith communities – this recognises the need for more grass roots involvement and direct communication with the different regions of Wales. A new seat for “unrepresented faiths” has also been created.
It is reserved for faith and spiritual communities outside of the nine world religions currently recognised by the SHAP Working Party on World Religions – this acknowledges the need to be fully inclusive and give all people who feel they live with faith a way to be involved with inter-faith work in Wales.