Inter Faith Stories
Chanukah Celebration for Birmingham Methodists
Joy Barrow, Inter Faith Relations Officer - Sometimes I
am told of inter faith encounters that are really encouraging. The
following was received from Wilfrid Richardson - who is 85 years
old - and I was delighted when he gave permission for me to publish
it on the website.
I have built up very good relations with a number of Muslim
families who have lived in this block of flats. The husband of the
present family wondered if they would be safe here when they moved
in. I happen to be the Volunteer Block Rep, contact with the
Housing staff if problems arise, and I went up to introduce myself
and told him to contact me should he need help in any way.
Initially I kept him supplied with local information that would
help him and his family.
He has told me that my first visit made him feel much better about
living here and he told me that I am his adopted father. African
people almost worship their elder relations and there is nothing
his family will not do for us. We often come home from the weeks
shopping with quite a load of bags. If any of them are about when
we arrive they will not let us take the heavy bags. At other times
if the children are down stairs playing they open the door and hold
it for us to enter.
Their oldest daughter comes down once a week to do some cleaning
with the vacuum cleaner and dusting for my wife. We pay her for
doing this. She is so thorough with whatever she does for us.
I had an angina attack recently. As soon as my wife told him he
made sure she was OK and visited me in hospital. I was asleep when
they arrived so they just stood by my bed. When I opened my eyes I
was so thrilled to see them both. They were so concerned about me.
I was only in over night after having a good MOT. I called on them
when I got home and they were so pleased to see me.
It's Ramadan now which will be followed by Eid and we will be
invited to join their celebrations as happened last year.
Whenever I am in contact with a Muslim I try to remember to greet
them with, "as salaam o-allaikum" (Peace be unto you) This greeting
really breaks the ice and improves the relationship.
From: Peshawar, Pakistan (May 29 2010)
The Pakistan Council of World Religions (Faith Friends), an
organization working for inter-religious harmony and understanding,
organized a seminar for reporters, columnists and the
|The Rt Revd Humphrey S. Peters, Bishop of
Peshawar with the Most Revd, the Rt Hon, the Lord Rowan
Archbishop of Canterbury, during a visit to Lambeth
Prominent scholars and columnists, plus religious leaders of the
prominent faiths participated in this graceful programme held at
the Peshawar Press Club. The speakers emphasized interfaith
harmony to promote peace and justice. They said that the media can
play a vital role in promoting positive attitudes which can be
achieved through honest and positive reporting. The media can play
an effective role in bringing peace and harmony among different
faith communities and to remove all kinds of misunderstandings
between the religions.
Some of the speakers also mentioned the western media's secular
attitudes, which provoke religious communities all over the
world. Such reporting was condemned and it was also stressed that
the Pakistan media should uplift its standards to match the
The representatives from the Diocese of Peshawar in this seminar
were Revd S.P. Asghar (Secretary, Mission & Ministry), Revd
Joseph John, Revd Naeem Patrick, Mr Insar Gohar, Mr Oliver Caleb
and some youth members of our different parishes.
Note: it was the Diocese of Peshawar that initiated Faith Friends
group in the Province
From: Manningtree Methodist Church: Sharing our Faith and Beliefs
Manningtree, the smallest town in England, was the focus for a
series of six meetings on consecutive Wednesdays during Lent
entitled 'Sharing our Faith and Beliefs'. These gatherings started
with the traditional Ash Wednesday service and were then followed
with Buddhist, Sikh, Greek Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish speakers.
Each speaker received a warm welcome and expressed their pleasure
at being invited to participate in the series. The speakers were
located from a C.A.B. list although three of them were recommended
by the Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource Unit in Ipswich.
Swadipa, the Buddhist representative told how he came to accept
the tradition of Meditation and Self Fulfilment but did not accept
there was a God. The aims of their tradition include peace,
humility and self control.
The next week Mr. Malkiat Singh entertained the gathering
outlining the history of the Sikh faith, their ready acceptance of
all that is good in other faiths. He also discussed some of the
issues for Sikhs living and working in a western culture such as
Father Alexander Haigh was an Anglican Priest who changed
traditions about sixteen years ago and now leads the Greek Orthodox
Church in Colchester. His main emphasis was adhering to the
fundamentals of the Christian Church as from 1st century. Worship
is the centre of all their being, with icons pointing them to God.
Their tradition is so focused that the matters that concern other
Christian faiths such as accommodating children, the role of women
in ministry and sexual deviations all have to fit into the pattern
of the early church.
The Muslim representative, Mojlum Khan, highlighted how much the
major faiths have in common for example worshipping and honouring
God, peace and serving your neighbour. Muslim teaching is based on
the Qur'an: if it is not in the Qur'an it is not a tenet of Islam.
Emphasising the Muslim importance and respect for women and for
peace, Mojlum Khan strongly condemned those who interpret the
Muslim faith with their own national or regional traditions.
The final session was with Elizabeth Sugarman who focused on the
daily life of an Orthodox Jew. She surprised the audience but
saying they have over 600 hundred commandments, 365 of which are
dietary as well as complex calendar arrangements governing their
activities and celebrations. Living in a Western culture meant that
some of the laws were adjusted such as the limits on travelling to
the nearest Synagogue. There are presently no synagogues in
Suffolk, so Mrs Sugarman travels from Felixstowe to Colchester to
The audience which averaged 30-35 for each meeting, included
local Methodists, Anglicans and non church attendees and proved to
be a very successful event, creating understanding and the desire
for peace and harmony amongst all peoples. To help set the scene
for each session appropriate music was played and pictures were
projected showing some of the outstanding temples and places of
worship around the world.
David Shearmur (Church Steward)
You can also read stories from Bradford, Birmingham, Leagrave
and Slough about inter faith activities during Inter Faith Week,
Want to learn more about engaging in Inter Faith
Read Where Do I Begin?, How
Will I Know What to Say? and check out Resources. You can also contact Dr Joy
Barrow, the Inter Faith Relations Officer