The Mary Initiative is a fresh voice in the world of faith-based relations with a unique approach and subtle reach into a range of related issues. We enable new topics of interfaith and intra-faith conversation by bringing a woman’s voice to the peace table of religion. Creating programmes and projects from this area of common ground through the mutual significance of the Virgin Mary, known as Maryam in Islam, we have a bridge of mutual understanding, primarily though not exclusively, between Christians and Muslims. We come from a conflict resolution and peace building perspective, recognising the importance of the role of women in civil society.
Perceived as being important only to Christians, Mary is also appreciated and respected by Muslims. Mary is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than the Bible, is the only woman to have a chapter named after her in Islam’s most Holy book and whom the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) described as ‘the best woman to be created’.
By understanding her significance in Islam, Christianity and to people of different faiths and no faith around the globe, we are able to transcend religious differences by sharing Mary for what she represents in us and the world today, through the universal principles, diversity and extraordinary breadth of qualities she encompasses.
Our approach is simple, innovative and practical, acknowledging that religion and tradition are not the same thing, and recognising difference and diversity as a positive driver for working together. As change is the greatest constant in the world, co-operation, collaboration and inclusivity are key to making the challenge of change work for us, rather than against us. We use a multi-disciplined approach including conflict transformation and peace building skills, combine intellect with informed insight and support social entrepreneurship where it emerges.
What started as a simple conversation in 2007, drew interest from around the world and as the Mary Initiative continued to grow and evolve it became the overall programme title for all Mary-related projects and activities.
BBC R4: Something Understood - 'Seeing Mary'
Ingrid Stellmacher contributes to a BBC Radio 4 programme on the significance of Mary in other faiths on the eve of her special day, presented by John McCarthy
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Download a Mary Initiative leaflet.