Celebrating and building our awareness of different and distinct faith communities.
Inter Faith Week this year runs from 8 to 15 November and it is an opportunity for us all to increase our understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs and to strengthen good inter faith relations.
It's also an opportunity to build our awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the council, and to celebrate and build on the contribution which their members make to our neighbourhoods and to wider society.
Inter Faith Week is open to those of all faiths and beliefs (including non-religious), and is timed, as usual, to begin on Remembrance Sunday, encouraging us to also remember the service of soldiers and civilians of many backgrounds.
This year, in the context of COVID-19, the majority of activities will be online and their organisers are taking advantage of this to broaden involvement yet further. A taster of some of the other activities planned can be seen on the Inter Faith week website, and details about all events listed to this point can be searched on the Inter Faith Week activities calendar.
Activities will include panel discussions on topics such as climate change, dementia, domestic violence, online exhibitions, quizzes, conferences and training sessions, opportunities to observe live-streamed religious services and meditation, and musical and other cultural events.
Faith leaders across H&F offer words of wisdom
Faith leaders across the community offered their words of wisdom and unity for us:
"During Inter Faith Week it is important to highlight the common ground between our diversity of religions and, to promote, develop and strengthen our friendships with other faith-communities.
London is a leading showcase of harmonious living together in a widely diverse society. We know every cosmopolitan city is like a mirror of our global village and a predominant characteristic, in such societies is the richness of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity.
We understand the need to apply the great human qualities of tolerance and understanding of other cultures and, above all, the need for respect. These fine qualities give us all what we desperately desire – living in peace and harmony with our fellow citizens.
In this country all followers of many different religions should acknowledge there is an invaluable freedom for us all to practice our religion in a peaceful way. It is a fine quality of democracy. Interfaith week is a wonderful opportunity for us to develop greater awareness of other religions and societies and their cultures. Then we can better understand that we are all members of the same human family."
Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala
London Buddhist Vihara, Chiswick
"As people of faiths we stand together to support each other against the ills in society. We believe by working closely together is the way forward in helping humanity. To share in dialogue and building good community relations is key to promoting mutual understanding, sharing experiences with others."
Br. Abdul Hakeem Montague
Al Muntada Mosque (Fulham Mosque)
"We at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sands End have the great joy of working closely with the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John's Wood to offer support to some of the families seeking asylum in the UK. This partnership developed three years ago when the synagogue which was already caring for over 80 asylum-seeking families appealed for help from other churches to care for another ten families. This has been a very important part of our own religious development as a congregation. I have also witnessed the great development in understanding that comes from accepting hospitality from other faith traditions such as an open day put on by the Mosque in Finsbury Park which invited us to share delicious food with them and see a display of their faith materials and achievements. I have experienced similar revelations of the underlying humanity of the different religious traditions when attending their festivals, a common experience of human sharing which goes a long way to transcend differences."
Father Bill Bowder
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Sands End
"Interfaith Week normally starts on Remembrance Sunday and usually runs through to the following Sunday. A normal Interfaith Week would include various services and events that demonstrate and celebrate our belief in a supreme being who, we believe, is benevolent, who loves us and has our best interests at heart.
In a normal Interfaith week there would be prayers from various faith leaders and joint worship services.
In previous years some of us will have even been to events run by central government and local authorities, but there will be none of that this year. In fact because of the coronavirus and lockdown 2.0 almost all gathered religious activity has been suspended, But religious leaders in our borough refuse to be locked down.
Our buildings may be closed but our faith is not locked down.
As is usual in any crisis we make ourselves available. We can't meet in person but we are available by phone, by email, by text message and also online in various formats. In fact religious activities and engagements with people, and other agencies, have increased in these covid times, and they show no sign of decreasing.
Telephone and Online Ministries have risen to the fore and we are all becoming experts in such softwares and technologies.
It would be very easy to bury our heads behind our locked doors and watch the world go by but the nature of religions and faiths universally requires that we spread the message of love and hope to all who will listen.
Whoever, whatever, and wherever you worship please know that we love you and we are here for you. If you need prayer, if you need help, if you are alone, please reach out to your local place of worship. We are waiting to love you."
Pastor Mark van Cuylenburg
Fulham Baptist Church