‘I have been meeting so many of my friends’ has been how I have felt as I have worked my way through the World Congress of Faiths archives. Together with the journal, they offer a rich mine of information about the Congress, so that it has been necessary, to keep this book to a reasonable length, to omit much material which is of lasting interest and to pass over many names which deserve a mention. Together with this material, many of those who have been prominent in the World Congress of Faiths have themselves written books or been the subject of an autobiography. Even so, I hope my selection from the material will give an impression of WCF’s contribution to ‘learning to live as a single family’, which Arnold Toynbee described as a vital task of this century.
The World Congress of Faiths has remained, organizationally, quite small, but its influence has been considerable. The book shows WCF’s pioneering role and also the many aspects of life to which the search for fellowship between members of the different religions is relevant. The history of WCF raises issues about the nature of inter-religious co-operation which should be of interest to all concerned for interfaith dialogue and not just to members of the Congress.
I am grateful to many people: Dr C M Woolgar, the Archivist of the University of Southampton Library and to the staff there; to the Archivist of the Lambeth Palace Library; to Dr Edward Carpenter and Professor Keith Ward, who are the Co-Presidents of WCF, for writing Prefaces; to Brian Pearce, Jean Potter and David Storey for reading a draft of the text; to John Prickett and Tom Gulliver for sending me material and to Novin Doostdar of Oneworld Publications for his help. I would also like to express thanks to those who have allowed me to use photographs.
I am particularly grateful to all the members of the World Congress of Faiths for creating a history about which I could write and to my wife Mary for her constant support and active involvement in the life of the Congress.
September 4th, 1995. Marcus Braybrooke.
P.S. I have added a chapter to give an overview of the activities of the Congress from 1996-2006 and to call to mind the contribution of those who now share in a wider fellowship in the next world. I would like to thank Jean Potter again for reading a draft of this chapter and also Rabbi Jackie Tabick. Once more, I would like to express my deep gratitude for her continuing share in this work.