G20 interfaith summit gains steam

  • December 18, 2009
{mosimage}When the 2010 G8 meeting in Huntsville, Ont., morphed into a G20 meeting in Toronto, organizers of the 2010 World Religious Summit were unfazed.

“We saw this coming,” said Canadian Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton. “So we took this into consideration in the planning.”

But the planners have yet to tell their web designers. The religious leaders conference is still promoted on a web site at www.faithchallengeg8.com as a World Religions Summit of “interfaith leaders in the G8 nations.”

For the parallel summit of bishops, imams, rabbis and monks, almost nothing changes with the 12 extra countries, said Hamilton. The interfaith summits which have run parallel to the last two G8 meetings have always been more inclusive than the G8 summits, she said.

As invitations are going out in December to the June 21-23 faith leaders’ meeting in Winnipeg, Hamilton was confident their summit would have good representation from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America.

While the G20 significantly expands representation in Latin America with three countries included, and five of Asia’s major economies are represented, Africa has just one representative at the G20 table, noted Hamilton.

“The G8 in the past has often spoken about Africa — not so much with Africa,” she said. “The faith leaders are, of course, setting a different template.”

The interfaith gathering will run June 21-23 and then pass its recommendations on to the G20 meeting June 26 and 27. A follow-up G20 meeting will come in November in Seoul, South Korea.

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