BRIDGE (Broadening Racial & Religious Interaction through Dialogue & General Education) was launched at COS 2017 to forge more partnerships with the community and encourage community-led initiatives to deepen racial and religious understanding in Singapore.
BRIDGE has the following objectives:
This is a platform that provides a safe space for honest and open conversations, where participants are encouraged to ask difficult and inconvenient questions related to faith. Facilitated by MCCY’s partners, the AMA series usually comprises a trigger activity to frame the discussion points, and to get participants comfortable with one another for more robust discussions, small group discussions, and panel dialogues. It is open to the public, and seeks to attract the wider audience, whether one subscribes to a particular faith or not. While each AMA session is focussed on a particular faith, it serves as a starting point to discuss both the topical faith, and common threads with other faiths. Throughout these sessions, respect and affirmation of one another is promoted and confidentiality observed.
This is a series of interfaith dialogues that aims to foster a better understanding of the practices of the different faiths by tackling fundamental questions about its traditions, cultures and practices to promote appreciation of the commonalities in spite of the diversity. The themes that were explored closely relates to the five human senses such as food, sights, smells, music and pilgrimage. The series was officially launched nationwide in February 2018 for the five Community Development Councils across the island to reach out to the grassroots and community stakeholders.
The ‘Roses of Peace’ Initiative was started by Md Irshad Abbas, and run by a growing team of committed volunteers. Roses of Peace ran an interfaith youth conference in September 2017 (titled ‘Faith in Action’) for over 150 youths, followed by a distribution of 10,000 roses accompanied with messages of peace from different faiths by over 300 volunteers in October. Participants who receive roses are then invited to take a ‘Peace Pledge’, and collated/featured on social media.
A Tapestry of Sacred Musicwas first launched by Esplanade – Theatre’s on the Bay in 2009. The festival focuses on artistry and music inspired by faith, practised by communities all over the world. Over the years, they have showcased different spiritual traditions, as well as different cultural communities, creating a rich tapestry of some of humanity’s most affecting and powerful musical expressions. Through being exposed to different art forms in the festival, audiences learn that in spite of our superficial differences in expression, the diverse religious practices are simply different responses to similar hopes, desires, fears and joys. The festival encourages audiences to celebrate the commonalities that different faiths share, looking beyond differences in expression and recognising that “we are not that different after all”. The festival also encourages intercultural curiosity through the soft influence of music and other cultural expressions.
Nanyang Confucian Association held two large scale conferences on Islam & Confucianism in September 2017, and Christianity and Confucianism in November 2017, reaching out to more than 350 participants per session. Both of these sessions were conducted in Mandarin, and reached out to an older group of Chinese who had little understanding of Islam & Christianity. The dialogues helped to find similarities between the faiths, and to dispel commonly held misconceptions. A third lecture was organised in June 2018.