LYNC and Partners Conduct Multi-Faith Cooperation Event

The eight-day training included government officials and religious leaders from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan

photo credit: IRF Secretariat


Posted By
Jessica Eturralde
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APRIL 2024—LYNC, in partnership with the IRF Secretariat and Multi-Faith Neighbors Network (MFNN), facilitated a comprehensive Training for Trainers program, which brought together 30 delegates from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. 

This initiative represents the culmination of nearly a decade of relationship-building and in-country dialogue with government officials, religious leaders, and civil society. 

LYNC’s founder and president, Wade Kusack, emphasized the rigorous selection process for attendees, requiring proof of participation at multiple levels and demonstration of implementation to qualify. 

The attendees comprised representatives from institutions such as Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Nazarbayev Center, the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan (SAMK), the President’s Office of Uzbekistan, the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan’s Committees for Religious Affairs, as well as various Muslim and Christian community leaders and representatives from each country.  

The first four days of the training began in Washington D.C. early each morning to maximize opportunities. These training sessions conducted by Dr. Chris Seiple, Greg Mitchell, and other members of the IRF Secretariat focused on topics such as observing the IRF Roundtable’s model and understanding religion and rule of law. Near the end of the training in D.C., the delegates conducted mock roundtables and learned how to establish and run roundtables in their respective countries and regions. 

The training in D.C. included participation in the IRF Roundtable and a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building.  

Subsequently, the delegation traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, for four more days of training sessions and dialogue with MFNN. There, Pastor Bob Roberts, Micah Fries, and Imam Didmar Faja provided solid and proven skills in multi-faith relationship building and shared thoughts on perception, religion in the public square, and how to build resilient communities. In Phoenix, as participants got to know each other more, they engaged in deeper discussions on applying challenges specific to their regions and strategies for promoting religious freedom and social cohesion. At first, working groups consisted of government officials working together at their tables, imams collaborating at their seats with each other, and Christians discussing ideas around a table.

Representatives of each group had an opportunity to respectfully express their position and beliefs, their understandings and perceptions of groups different than theirs, and perceived challenges to social cohesion.  

Later in the training, the groups came together according to regions, with pastors, imams, and government officials sitting side-by-side to develop city action plans for how they will move forward as partners for social cohesion and religious freedom.  

The training often emphasized a hands-on, hands-off approach, using examples from the U.S. as models while recognizing the importance of considering the cultural, historical, and security contexts within each participant’s region. 

In addition to the training, delegates toured and observed various places of worship and cultural sites, including The Museum of the Bible. On the last day, delegates visited the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, where in 2015 Christians protected Muslims coming to pray from armed bikers trying to spread an anti-Muslim message. 

A cultural and memorable highlight was visiting the Grand Canyon on day 7. 

Representatives from both countries expressed interest in listening to each other and emphasized the desire to be heard and understood. The training is part of agreements signed through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), including MOUs with the Kazakhstan Committee on Religious Affairs in 2021 and 2023 (in Georgia) and an MOU signed with the Uzbekistan Committee on Religious Affairs in 2023. 

Several Training for Trainers program graduates will lead Roundtables in four cities in Kazakhstan in July 2024, and LYNC will be there to support them. 

We will continue to release more details on this monumental event. 

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