On May 24-26, at the Hotel Emerald in Prishtina, for the first time Kosovo had the honor of hosting the South East European Prayer Gathering (SEE Prayer Gathering). Past years have seen the event hosted in Montenegro, Albania, Romania and Greece, though in the 10-year history it was the first time the Republic of Kosovo was chosen as the host country. This year's theme was "Unity in Diversity." Each year, political, social, business and religious leaders assemble to build relationships, pray and dialogue about important issues regarding faith. The SEE Prayer Gathering was inspired from the National Prayer Breakfast meetings begun in the USA in 1953.
Members of Kosovo's Parliament invited more than 300 people to participate, including representatives from KPEC. Able to meet and dialogue with local religious leaders and international leaders from around the world were KPEC Secretary Brian Gibson and Pastor Artur Krasniqi. Sharing a table together with leaders of the Islamic, Catholic and Orthodox communities, they joined in dialogue about the importance of going beyond mere tolerance of each other to something higher: mutual respect and love.
Keynote speakers at the event included President Atifete Jahjaga, Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, Prishtina mayor Dr. Isa Mustafa and current and former members of US Congress, Robert Aderholt and Bob McEwen. During the meetings, President Jahjaga related, "It is a pleasure to see that so many friends of my country are participating at this ceremony, organized for the very first time in the Republic of Kosovo, here at this prayer breakfast."
Participation in the weekend events was quite extensive with people from nearly 60 countries attending, and those present to hear the President and Prime Minister were also able to hear Congressman McEwen share the following: "Man is spiritual, and yet he has an emptiness that he tries to fill physically, whether with money, with power, or even with religion, physically doing certain rituals. But Jesus came, and explained how man can be together with God, saying, 'If you will come and follow me, I will give you love, joy and peace.' The things that spiritual man is hungry for but cannot obtain physically. Things that can only be brought by a relationship with God.
"And so, if you were to ask me to explain in 4 minutes the most important thing I have ever heard or learned in my life, it would be that God knows you, God loves you, and God desires to have His Spirit join with your spirit through Jesus Christ."
The SEE Prayer Gathering ended Sunday, May 26, with a lunch in Prizren for all participants.