The ECRL

European Council of Religious Leaders

The European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians.

ECRL is one of five regional Interreligious Councils within the Religions for Peace global network. Religions for Peace – accredited to the United Nations – is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970.

Download the updated ECRL brochure

Rev Dr. Thomas Wipf

Rev Dr. Thomas Wipf

President of ECRL

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Dr. Revd Thomas Wipf is the Moderator of the European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace, since 2012. He serves the Council together with five co-moderators.

Curriculum vitae

  • President of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE: 105 member churches in 29 countries), 2006-2010
  • Member of the Presidium of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), 2004-2010
  • President of the Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC: Association of 26 member churches representing 2.4 million protestants), 1999-2010
  • Founder and first President of the Swiss Council of Religions (SCR), 2006-2010
  • President of the ESE.02 – Project of the Swiss Churches at the EXPO.02, the Swiss National Exhibition 2002, 1999−2002.
  • President of the General Assembly of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) 1998-1999
  • Member of the Board of the Reformed Cantonal Church of Zurich, 1993−1998
  • Parish ministry in Schönenberg (Zurich), 1975−1998
  • Theological studies at the universities of Basel, Münster/Westfalen and Zurich, 1968−1974
  • Dr theol hc Universities Münster/Westfalen and Reformed Theological University Debrecen/Hungary
  • Born 1946, Swiss, married, two children
Dr. Mark Owen

Dr. Mark Owen

Secretary General of ECRL

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Dr Mark Owen has been Secretary General of the European Council of Religious Leaders since May 2017, and holds a BA in Theology and Religious Studies, MA in World Religions, and PhD in Tibetan Buddhism. Mark has extensive experience of working with interfaith and multi-faith organisations, and an academic and practical background in religious peacebuilding. Dr Owen is Director of the University of Winchester’s Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding; which was awarded the much coveted 4* for research impact in the UK government’s latest Research Excellent Framework assessment in 2014. Mark has carried out religious peacebuilding research and practice across Europe and South Asia, and is Programme Leader for the MA in Reconciliation & Peacebuilding at the University of Winchester. Mark is currently engaged in research projects looking at the role of religious actors and organisations in peacebuilding processes in Nepal and Myanmar, and multi-faith approaches to migration and integration in Europe. His interests also include Religion and Conflict Analysis, Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Buddhist approaches to Conflict Transformation. Mark is a founder and trustee of the UK registered charity Freedom to Learn, which works to provide the opportunity of education to children from some of the remotest regions of the Himalayas and South Asia.
Rebecca Bellamy

Rebecca Bellamy

Secretariat Manager secretariat@ecrl.eu

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Rebecca has been supporting the European Council of Religious Leaders since early 2016.

Rebecca has been working with faith communities and interfaith projects for over a decade, including at local, national and international levels. Notably she managed an award-winning Muslim-Jewish dialogue charity in the UK, prior to managing the Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding at the University of Winchester.

She has significant experience of creative projects (including Directing a series of large interfaith arts festivals), non-profit governance management, event/conference production and international collaboration. She has also served and continues to serve as a Trustee for small grant-giving organisations helping disadvantaged communities in the UK. Rebecca is part of the Quaker community.

Natia Tsintsadze

Natia Tsintsadze

Consultant - Interreligious Councils

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Natia Tsintsadze is Executive of the World Student Christian Federation for Europe and Program Director for Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation.

She is experienced working with people from many different countries. She speaks numerous languages and has expertise in Human Rights, Diplomacy and International Relations.

Natia’s background is Georgian Orthodox and she previously played a leading role in convening Religious Leaders in Georgia as part of an Interreligious Dialogue Programme. 

Dr Peter Bender

Dr Peter Bender

Consultant - Interreligious Councils

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Dr Peter Bender is a Political Scientist, Catholic Theologian and Religions for Peace Advisor, he is experienced in convening and chairing meetings and advising at senior levels.

He has expertise in European politics and speaks numerous European languages. And he has served as an Advisor on Religion and Foreign Policy for the German Institute for Foreign Relations and the Auswärtiges Amt / German Foreign Office.

He has also served as a board member for RfP Germany. He has published and lectured extensively on Interfaith Dialogue, International Relations and European Politics.

Giorgia Lee

Giorgia Lee

Consultant- Communications

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Giorgia Lee’s experience within the communications field is varied, having worked within both social media and PR. Giorgia is also a trained journalist, having studied for a Masters in Multimedia Journalism. She is helping to develop ECRL’s digital presence.

Giorgia has spent time abroad, including volunteering with young people in South Africa and Thailand, where she helped disadvantaged communities on specific projects.
Giorgia is part of the Jewish community and lives in the United Kingdom.

 

Council

Jewish

Chief Rabbi Izhak Dayan, Switzerland *
Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister, Austria
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, The Netherlands
Rabbi Yeshaya Dalsace, France
Gady Gronich, Germany
Shorena Mikava, Germany

Protestant and Anglican

Bishop Marianne Gaarden, Denmark
Bishop Martin Hein, Germany
Bishop Kaarlo Kalliala, Finland
Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt, Norway
Revd Dr. Thomas Wipf, Switzerland *

Orthodox

Metropolitan Emmanuel, France *
Bishop Ioannis of Thermopylae, Greece
Dr Andreas Andreopoulos, Great Britain

Ex-Officio Members

Dr. Azza Karam, Religions for Peace – International, USA

* Vice-Presidents

Muslim

Mufti Nedzad Grabus, Slovenia *
Ms. Meherzia Labidi Maïza, France
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Great Britain
M.A. Özlem Nas, Germany
Imam Yahya Pallavicini, Italy
Shaykh Sayed Razawi, Scotland

Catholic

Mr. Etienna De Jonghe, Belgium
Sister Madeleine Fredell, Sweden
Bishop William Kenney, Great Britain *
Dr habil. Agata S. Nalborczyk, Poland

Dharmic Religions

Mr. Jamie Cresswell, Buddhist, Great Britain *
Mr. Dorab Mistry OBE, Zoroastrian, Great Britain
Bhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh, Sikh, Great Britain
Gandharvika Prema devi dasi, Hindu (ISKCON), Hungary
Dr. Lakshmi Vyas, Hindu, Great Britain

Advisers

Pastor Peter Jorgensen
Revd Dr. Detlef Görrig
Dr. Martin Affolderbach
Mr. Joachim Pothmann

Affiliations

Religions for Peace International is the largest international coalition of representatives from the world’s religions dedicated to promoting peace founded in 1970.

International Secretariat headquarters is in New York City, with Regional Conferences in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa and the Americas with more than 90 affiliates at the national level, and a number of local units. Religions for Peace enjoys consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with UNESCO and with UNICEF. Dr. William F Vendley is its Secretary General.

This non-governmental organization (NGO) serves on all continents representing 90 countries; it networks with World Council of senior religious leaders while respecting religious differences, common humanity and the influence of peace within every religion.

This organization has created inter-religious partnerships to confront most dire issues such as stopping war, ending poverty and protecting the earth. Religions for Peace was founded in 1970 and supported by various foundations, governments, intergovernmental organizations, religious communities, religiously affiliated development agencies and individuals.

More information: www.religionsforpeace.org

Partners

During 1992-95, the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina struggled in its recovery from three years of bloody inter-ethnic war. Following the break-up of Yugoslavia, an estimated 250,000 people died in the conflict between Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats. Working to bring healing and help forge a lasting peace, our Religions for Peace affiliate, the Inter-religious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was active in promoting inter-religious collaboration among the country’s women.

Under the auspices of the Religions for Peace, representatives of women of faith from the Inter-Religious Councils of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) and Kosovo came together in the historic city of Sarajevo from 2–4 October 2003 for an inspirational, regional inter-religious training on mobilizing women for peace. The 30 women from the Islamic, Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish communities of Kosovo and BiH came together for the first time since the end of the Balkan conflicts to mark the beginning of the southeast Europe women of faith network.

The Religions for Peace–European Women of Faith Network (EWFN) brings together a wide diversity of faith and interfaith-based women’s organizations in Europe to work together for peace. The EWFN creates opportunities for women to communicate and learn from each other, share good practice and work in partnership with other organizations on issues concerning women and girls, grounded in faith. As part of Religions for Peace Global Women of Faith Network, the Network promotes the building of peace by working with religious leaders, governmental, statutory and voluntary organizations as well as through practical projects at the grass roots level.

The European Women of Faith Network– Women against Poverty was launched 13 November 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Documents: Report from the launch; ECRL greeting.

More information: www.wcrp.be/EWFN/index.htm

EIYN Paris summit 2010 (4)

The RfP – European Inter-Religious Youth Network (EIYN) is part of the Religions for Peace Global Youth Network and serves as a platform aimed at bringing together youth organizations and young individuals from all religions present in Europe. Established in 2006, EIYN is composed of 20 European youth faith-based organizations (and in some cases religious communities) and non-religious organizations who facilitate inter-faith dialogue. EIYN facilitates multi-religious cooperation and helps develop partnerships for multi-religious projects and pilot programs to confront some of our most urgent challenges in conjunction with other RfP youth networks in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Religions for Peace Global Youth Network has advanced common action for disarmament toward shared security in a 2 year-long disarmament campaign – Arms Down! that was launched in November 2009. In Europe, the campaign is realised under the theme: Disarmament for Development. Until now, in the framework of the first phase of the campaign (November 2009-2010), the EIYN coordinated 5 projects, implemented in different countries of Europe. There are a series of Arms Down! events planned for 2011.

More information: disarmeurope.wordpress.com

The cornerstone of our work is the dialogue between religious people at the local level. The structure for this is provided through our affiliate World Council of Religions for Peace-Europe through the establishment of Inter-religious Councils.

These are inter-religious dialogue platforms on the local and regional level throughout Europe, assisting in addressing societal problems by capitalizing on natural strengths of the religious communities.