GNRC Third Forum
A Chance to Reconnect with the Original Spirit of the GNRC
and Share Hope for the Future
from the GNRC Third Forum Program

May 24, 2008

Arigatou Foundation

The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) had its origins in the profound, heartfelt conviction of Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto, President of the Arigatou Foundation, and Leader of Myochikai. Looking out at the enormous suffering of children around the world, he was simply compelled, as an ordinary person of faith, to take more responsibility for alleviating their plight. He issued a call for people of all religions to start working together earnestly - across all variety of differences - to build a better world for children. As the means to do this, he advocated the establishment of a global network to provide a venue for individuals or organizations working for the good of children to unite and cooperate with one another with the aim of realizing a world where children could grow up with hope, in health and freedom.

In response to this call, in May 2000, more than 300 religious leaders and grassroots workers from all major religious traditions and 33 countries gathered in Tokyo, joining in spiritual solidarity and a shared commitment to take concrete action for children.

Eight years has passed since then. The GNRC has developed rapidly, working closely with UN agencies. Some significant progress has been made. Six regional networks have been formed to address the various problems facing children in each world region, primarily focusing on the issues of poverty, violence, education and child rights. The Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children has been launched to fulfill the commitment that Rev. Miyamoto made on behalf of the GNRC in his speech to the UN Special Session on Children in 2002. All of these outcomes are the result of the new encounters, solidarity and cooperation that the GNRC has generated among religious people, UN agencies and others who are working children around the world. We should be grateful for this progress. However, when we look at the current situation of children, we must recognize that we still face an enormous task. Too many children around the world are still suffering, too often and too much.

As organizer of the GNRC Third Forum, the Arigatou Foundation hopes to provide an opportunity for GNRC members to reflect on the GNRC's mission and to renew their commitment to creating a better world for children by strengthening and expanding this network of interfaith cooperation, building on all the achievements thus far. Another important goal, as part of this endeavor, is to forge closer partnerships with UNICEF, UNESCO, and other UN agencies and partners.

The main theme of the Forum, "Learning to Share: Values, Action, Hope," reminds us to begin with humility at the Forum, as we renew our commitment to respecting one another and working together to build a world of sharing. Our focus in Hiroshima is on three major issues affecting children around the world: violence, poverty and destruction of the global environment. As people of faith, we share the desire to make unique, significant contributions on these issues, and one vehicle for this will certainly be the worldwide implementation of Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education, which we will accomplish in close cooperation with UN agencies and other partners.

Let us treasure every encounter we have in Hiroshima, with a heartfelt belief in all the shared potential that arises from our solidarity. Indeed, if we can truly "learn to share," the new initiatives that emerge from our growing network will certainly bring new hope to children around the world.