Faiths Unite for Millennium Service
Dr George Carey talks to Tibetian nun Ani Zangmo|
Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for the new millennium to
be an age of faith, values and momentous scientific advances.
Mr Blair, addressing a multi-faith gathering at Westminster to mark
the start of 2000, told a 400-strong audience that values derived from
religion should continue to be the bedrock of civilisation.
The event, in the Royal Gallery of the Houses of Parliament, was
representatives from a variety of faiths in the UK and included
readings, presentations and musical interludes.
Mr Blair said whatever the technological advances the new millennium was
to bring, spiritual values would be as important as ever.
Tony Blair and wife Cherie during the Act of Commitment|
"This new millennium will be a time, I have no doubt at all, of great
discoveries and huge scientific advances," said Mr Blair.
"We will no doubt again do things that people could not possibly have
dreamt of 10, 20, 30 years ago.
"But if this gathering means anything, it means an affirmation of the
fact that we need direction and purpose and values too."
Mr Blair said those values were firmly rooted in the faiths represented
at the event.
"Justice, mutual respect, compassion, community - these are all values
that all those that spoke shared in common - and they are not values
that are not incidental to their religious belief, but central to them."
Mr Blair also stressed the importance of tolerance, education and mutual
respect in a multi-cultural society.
'Event without precedent'
The event, hosted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was
also attended by Culture Secretary Chris Smith , and the Duke and
Duchess of Gloucester.
People from various faith communities are celebrating the values which
all the religions hold in common and which they hope will characterise
society in the 21st Century by taking part in the Shared Act of
Reflection and Commitment.
There are key values, dear to all of us, that underpin our faith and
which we can share as we move into the 21st Century
Dr Manazir Ahsan of the Islamic Foundation |
This complemented the four millennium church services which took place
on Sunday in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
Mr Smith, minister with overall responsibility for the millennium
celebrations, said: "This event is without precedent.
"It is the first time government has hosted an event of this kind and I
am delighted it is forming part of the millennium first weekend."
The content of the event was developed by the Inter Faith Network,
co-chaired by Bishop Roy Williamson and Dr Manazir Ahsan, Director of
the Islamic Foundation.
'Creative and positive'
The Inter Faith Network for the UK was established in 1987 to counter
misunderstanding and prejudice about religious traditions.
Nine main faith communities|
1. Baha'i, |
3. Christian |
4. Hindu |
5. Jain |
6. Jewish |
7. Muslim |
8. Sikh |
9. Zoroastrian |
Bishop Williamson said: "All the faith communities - including the
Christian churches - have been keen from the outset to be fully involved
in the millennium celebrations and to be creative and positive in the
way in which we mark 2000.
Dr Ashan added: "While respecting the integrity of every faith, the
event highlights the things that unite us - care and compassion,
respect, a desire for justice and a sense of community.
"There is much to be celebrated and much scope for us to work together
©Copyright 2000, BBC
Page last updated/revised 011000
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