I am delighted to say that every faith is now involved, and most are represented here today - and that we have successfully, with the help of TimeBank, found a way to put that simple idea into practice.

Although the Chief Rabbi is kind enough, or diplomatic enough, to credit this idea to me I am not all sure that he is right. But I certainly remember the dinner in 1998 at which the idea originally emerged.A small group of us wanted to find a simple - dare I say inexpensive - way to celebrate the Millennium in a form which had a strong spiritual component; an idea which would have resonance and purpose with people of faith; an idea which could, perhaps, change attitudes. Something to encourage tolerance, respect and understanding.

Last autumn, Jonathan Sacks raised the idea with me again. This time as a way in which Faith Communities might contribute, meaningfully and joyfully and, above all, in a practical way to the celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee, with its timeless themes of service and community. After all, it is our chance to thank The Queen for 50 years of unstinting service; to look forward and to learn to do some things better than we do them now.

Over the past seven months, everyone has laboured hard to find a way to make the idea work in practice. There have been many meetings between people of different faiths. And, without exception, that same simple idea - to make a gift of time to someone of another faith - to share and learn together, to enjoy the company of people of a different culture, faith and experience - has been welcomed, even applauded.

I am delighted to say that every faith is now involved, and most are represented here today - and that we have successfully, with the help of TimeBank, found a way to put that simple idea into practice.

I am particularly delighted that the BBC has also committed itself to supporting our plan as key partners, along with the Home Office which is helping to provide a substantial part of our modest budget. I am most grateful to the Home Secretary, whom I know had wanted to be here in person, for his support.

As so often happens, a name was needed ...! Everyone seems to have settled on 'Respect' - was the eponymous Ali 'G' on the committee I ask myself?! ...But perhaps 'Respect' sums up, succinctly and clearly, what the relationship between different faiths should be all about.

Over the past year, we have seen internationally, nationally and locally all too many examples of intolerance to others. Tolerance is an easy word to pronounce but it seems to be very difficult to enact in our lives. And yet it is such a tragedy that when the various faith communities have so much in common its members should so often be divided by the different ways we have of interpreting the inner meaning of our existence.

The founders of our ancient religions, after all, were those truly enlightened souls whose own lives were the most profound examples of how love and forgiveness, both on the outer and inner planes, are the only means of breaking the cycle of cause and effect - of hatred, vengeance and conflict - and of reconciling the opposites in our relations with each other.

So, when we give a gift of time, let's remember that we are in fact united by a common bond of faith - faith in a sacred dimension beyond ourselves; faith in, for want of a better description, a divine "essence" to the meaning of our existence; faith in the integrity of life itself.

And this bond is something infinitely precious at a time in human history when we have already crossed the threshold into a world where faith itself is denigrated, where humanity is to be re-designed in Man's, not God's image, and Nature is to be re-engineered for the purposes of our own convenience.

Faced with the ultimate consequences of such Promethean activities, I would have thought that all people of Faith - with a capital 'F' - have every reason to put their differences and intolerances to one side and to unite in defence of the Sacred.

I think that we need to remember what has sometimes been lost from our communities - and to repair it. Good neighbourliness is, perhaps, one of the things most in need of repair. In the next two years I hope that the Movement we are launching today will be able, at least to help in the repair work. It is about the young Muslim mowing the lawn for the elderly Hindu lady down the street. Or the choir from the Catholic church or Anglican parish church singing to entertain the Jewish old people's club. It is these small things that, above all, will make our communities better places in which to live.

So my thanks and best wishes go out to everyone who will be involved over the next two years. The public response has been particularly encouraging, and I cannot help feeling that there are many people out there who have wanted to be part of such a scheme but have not, until now, had the opportunity. With 'Respect' those people now have the chance.