Dialoguers’ Encounter

TO INTENSIFY the promotion and pursuit of its vision of dialogue, the Silsilah Dialogue Movement now has a Silsilah Forum in 16 places, 15 of which are in Mindanao – Basilan, Bongao, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato City, Davao, Iligan, Jolo, Kidapawan, Midsayap, Pagadian, Pikit, Siasi, Sibugay, Siocon, and one in Cebu.

The forum in each of these places has a Muslim and a Christian Coordinator.

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The initial idea for the forum came from the need to bring together, for continuing formation, reflection and collaboration in the area of dialogue and peace, the alumni of the Silsilah Summer Course held over the last 21 years.

Alumni now numbers by the thousands.

The forum is not simply a gathering of alumni but also of friends of Silsilah, those who believe in the vision of Silsilah for a Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace. The gathering pays attention to spiritual growth of the members in their respective faiths and to make this a sustainable effort.

Besides the Coordinators, each forum has a core group which meets regularly with the Coordinators to plan and implement various activities to promote the vision of dialogue and peace of Silsilah.

One of these activities is the formation seminar that may be given to student groups, barangay leaders and officials of local government units.

About 25 coordinators came to the Harmony Village on December 5, 6 and 7 for the second gathering for 2007. These gatherings, held in May and December each year, are occasions for sharing experiences and planning for the following months. Among the reports given: Jolo forum, with the help of OPAP, has held a series of consultations with different sectoral groups in Sulu. The series will end with a symposium in January 2008.

Cagayan de Oro forum acted as the Secretariat for the activities in connection with Mindanao Week of Peace in the city. It also serves as the secretariat for the inter-faith activities in that city.

Sibugay forum has organized a Harmony Zone in the Bangkerohan area and the residents of the Harmony Zone undergo formation so as to make their area a place in which principles of dialogue and peace are made a part of the community culture.

Cebu forum is actively involved in introducing Muslim-Christian dialogue to the groups universities in the archdiocese.

In all the forum places, the Harmony Chain Initiative is also being promoted. This initiative, already strong in the Philippines and introduced to other countries, links people through prayer.

The gathering of the coordinators also served as the occasion for two important activities. One was the discussion of the letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars and sent to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders. The letter, which focused on the two great commandment of love of God/Allah and of neighbor, is a very strong sign of hope as well as a challenge, to discover ways for deeper and more meaningful inter-religious dialogue, especially between Muslims and Christians.

Silsilah will soon conduct focus group discussions to gather data for a study being undertaken in preparation for a Special Summer Course. The Forum places will be venues for these FGDs, with the help of the Coordinators and the Core Group in each place.

The busy three days of the Coordinators ended with them joining Silsilah’s Renewal of Commitment on Sunday, January 9, 2007, at the Silsilah gymnasium.

Harmony chain initiative

The Harmony Chain Initiative was started in the year 2000 by the Silsilah Dialogue Movement in Mindanao as a response to the declaration of “total warR#8221; by the government against a secessionist group.

Peace is a gift from God, a gift through prayer, and also a commitment through a personal transformation.

The Harmony Chain links people of every age, of every nation, of every religion, in praying for and building peace. It is a continuous prayer for peace, 24 hours a day, holding hands together in prayer and with burning hearts for peace. It is an inter-faith initiative of meditation and prayer for dialogue and peace.

It is a chain of friendship, of freedom, of respect to break the chains of violence, hatred, biases and fears. Besides 36 localities in the Philippines (mostly in Mindanao) where the Harmony Prayer (see below) is already well known, there are small groups in 14 foreign countries who are part of the chain.

“Cry Peace with your prayer and your life-in- dialogue” – this is the slogan of the Harmony Chain. Included in the Harmony Prayer (which has been endorsed by the Bishops-Ulama Conference or BUC) there is the spirituality of life-in- dialogue dear to Silsilah: a loving relationship with God, with self, with others and with creation.

Life becomes a dialogue. Life becomes harmonious. Dialogue, a lifestyle for everyone!

Do you want to become a participant of the Harmony Chain Initiative? Do you like to spend regular time in meditation and prayer, personal or communitarian (school, group of friends, family, parish, monastery, association, etc…)? You can decide which day of the week you want to dedicate a special time praying for peace (Mass, Bible sharing, Rosary, spiritual reading, silent meditation, “salat”, or other form). You can decide which hour (approximately) of the day.

You can send the following data to this email address: [email protected] or the postal address: Harmony Chain Initiative – Silsilah Center 137 Gov. Alvarez Ave – 7000 Zamboanga City.

For registration, please write your name, religion, postal address and active email address (or the email address of a friend). Which day and hour would you like to pray for peace?

You can incorporate the Harmony Prayer, which includes the message and the spirit of this Initiative, as a universal prayer, said by Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.

It is important to be faithful to your commitment.

No registration or membership fee is requested. Every month you will receive “In-Touch,” a newsletter, through email or through your coordinator to support your commitment. On the website: www.silsilahforum.org you can find the Harmony Prayer in many languages and Filipino dialects. Ask for the Harmony Prayer card printed in Pilipino, Tausug, Bisaya and English, and promote it to your friends.

The Harmony Prayer SONG is available in CD so that you may learn the tune. Many public schools, after the agreement of Opapp (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace P rocess), use the song during flag ceremony every Monday morning.

Peace be with you! There is more harmony and peace when you pray! (Press release)