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Fifty years of Buddhist - Christian dialogue

The Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue (EISD) is 50 years old. A very representative audience was present at the meeting held in the auditorium of the Institute on Monday 7 to celebrate the occasion.

The highlight of the celebration was the launching of the book 'Basil: Portrait of a Missionary' by Rev. Graeme Jackson the son of the founder Director of the EISD, Rev. Basil Jackson who served in Sri Lanka from 1926-1966 as a missionary attached to the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka.

The author himself served in Sri Lanka as a missionary for 9 years from 1955-1966. The book is a story of one of the great missionaries who worked in Sri Lanka, during a time of great change within both the nation and the Church. It aims to show how he perceived these changes in the light of the gospel, bringing to bear his unique understanding of how God's Justice was at work in Sri Lanka through the very human institutions of Religion, Schools, Political life and through the interplay of personalities.

The second important item of the celebration was the 50th anniversary lecture delivered by the Rev. Dr. Aloysius Peiris s.j. Director, Thulana Centre for Research, Gonawala, Kelaniya. Rev. Dr. Peiris was associated with the EISD for 35 years as a member of the Board of management for many years and most importantly he is the chief Editor of the Journal Dialogue, the flag carrier of the EISD which has a world wide readership. Therefore he was eminently suited to deliver this anniversary lecture.

Rev. Dr. Peiris traced the history and development of the Institute under the successive Directors. He paid an unreserved tribute to the first two Directors, Rev. Basil Jackson and Rev. Dr. Lynn de Silva as pioneers who stood for Justice and creativity.

Rev. Dr. Peiris appreciated the goodwill and magnanimity of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka for releasing such able and eminent persons to run the EISD which was established by the Methodist Church and made it an autonomous institution to serve the wider church and society.

Rev. Dr. Peiris congratulated Rt. Rev. Kenneth Fernando immediate past Director and Mr. Marshal Fernando the current Director for being able to expand and carry forward the work of the EISD on the foundation laid by the founding directors.

Rev. Dr. Peiris also referred with admiration to the dedicated contribution of the staff particularly the Administrative secretary of the Institute, Mrs. Langanee Mendis who has been a tower of strength for well over 20 years in the life of the EISD.

Rev. Dr. Peiris stressed the importance of unique and pioneering contribution of the EISD in the area of Buddhist-Christian Dialogue in Sri Lanka and its extension to the international ecumenical arena. The work in this area helped to promote impulses for reconciliation in a divided society.

He concluded his lecture with the wish that the EISD will continue to remain to be used as an open space for meeting of minds and a place that generates creative ideas to foster harmonious human relationships.

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