During the first week of Lent the project is L’Arche Bethlehem but as the Diocesan pilgrimage will be visiting them during their stay in the Holy Land, we are holding that over until next week. This week we are focusing on the Kaduna Centre For the Study Of Christian-Muslim Relations
Research shows that almost 90% of Nigerians working in the field of Conflict Prevention and Resolution have no knowledge at all about the religious beliefs of the ‘other’ and very little knowledge of their own religious profession. The Kaduna Centre focuses on Religious education with the aim of producing well-informed Nigerian Christians and Muslims with good basic general education in both Christianity and Islam.
After seeing the impact of their work with the Christian communities from around the flash points of the Northern States of Nigeria, the centre became recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria to run programmes at both Certificate and Diploma levels for their students and became the ‘Kaduna Centre for the Study of Christian-Muslim Relations’ in 2008. Since then almost 250 students, all Christians in secular and religious leadership positions, have successfully completed courses at the Centre. In August 2019 the Centre enrolled twenty students from the Christian and Muslim communities who are studying together for a year after which they will work in pairs on a project before graduating.
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who was at the time the Diocesan Bishop of Kaduna, funded the Centre with support from friends in the UK and using the facilities of his Diocese. The Centre’s classrooms were moved to Archbishop Josiah’s family house after he took up the post of Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, based in London, giving them three years of secure accommodation. The staff all work on a part-time basis and are paid a small stipend only.
The Board of Trustees now believes that the Centre needs a permanent home to meet its increasing needs and is in the process of setting up a permanent home for the Kaduna Centre for the Study of Christian-Muslim Relations within Kaduna metropolis. The building project will be carried out by qualified designers and engineers who are giving their services voluntarily as their contribution to the Centre.
The Centre now plans to include peace studies as well as Conflict Prevention and Resolution programmes. It is also aware that there are many young college and university graduates without jobs. In order to meet this need, the Centre also plans to run job acquisition programmes in useful subjects such as poultry keeping, fishery, dry-season vegetable farming, events, IT programming and rabbit farming.
The success of the project will be judged by how it achieves its goal of creating a group of young people who understand both their religious teachings and those of their neighbours. Young people who are willing and ready to respect those outside their religious community and to cooperate in building a peaceful and harmonious society devoid of extremism, leading to decreasing levels of intolerance and an increased respect for the ‘other’ and a willingness to live with differences.
Research has shown that there is a demand for a Christian Guest House in the centre of the city of Kaduna and the Centre intends to support itself by including within its development a 40-room guest house, which will provide accommodation for guests as well as facilities for residential conferences and workshops. Once fully operational, the staff costs of the guest house would be covered as would most of the activities at the Centre. It is hoped that there will also be the funding to provide sponsorship for those unable to afford the Centre’s programmes.