Interfaith Report Spring 2018
Increase understanding, build relationships
1. Inter Faith week took place from November 12th – 19th. A range of events took place, particularly in Preston, Blackburn and Burnley. The preceding week saw the group ‘Solutions not Sides’ touring Lancashire. This is a charity that brings together a young Palestinian and young Israeli, both committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict, and who share their separate stories with the audience. This was extremely successful, with sessions held in schools, at the Burnley Faith Centre, and at UCLan in Preston, where several local councillors attended, as did the chaplain to the Bishop of Blackburn.
2. #visitmymosque day took place on February 18th, the fourth year of this annual event. I was asked by the British Council of Mosques to help with a briefing in Blackburn as various mosques made plans for the day. This proved to be a useful event, and the subsequent visit day saw four mosques open in Blackburn, with similar numbers in Preston and Burnley. I attended the Anwaar mosque in Blackburn, along with bishop Philip and members of Blackburn and Darwen interfaith forum. Such events do show a willingness from at least some parts of the Muslim community to engage more widely, and it’s encouraging to see the conversations taking place between Muslims and non-Muslims.
3. Jihad of Jesus was the title of a recent UK tour, the provocative phrase being taken from the book of the same name by Christian community worker Dave Andrews, emphasising the ‘radical, non-violent struggle for justice’. The tour, which featured Dave and prominent UK Muslim activist Julie Siddiqui, came to Blackburn cathedral on March 23rd, and involved a number of partners, including the Lancashire district. More than 100 people attended the event, including bishop Philip, the local Methodist superintendent, and the area Baptist lead. This was the highest attendance of the whole tour, reflecting well on progress made in Lancashire; as above, creating an occasion for people of different traditions to come together leads to productive conversations, increased understanding, and developing relationships.
1. A bid to Near Neighbours has been successful in both Blackburn and Burnley, and in these locations there will be running a short course exploring Christianity and Islam. In Blackburn the dates are four Tuesdays from 10th April, 4.30 – 8pm, at the cathedral. For Burnley sessions will be Saturdays in June, dates to be announced shortly. The aim is to increase understanding, build relationships, and develop ideas to take forward.
2. Schools The Burnley Faith centre now manages a service to Lancashire schools, advising on curriculum and arranging for volunteers from different faiths to visit schools. With over 50 schools across the county signed up there is now an urgent need for more volunteers. A further introduction session for individuals interested in giving ‘faith talks’ in schools will be held on 24th April, 6.30pm at the Burnley Faith centre, Bardon lane.
3. Circuits. My hope is that over the coming year all circuits will engage at some level with interfaith activity. Suggested options, on all of which I can advise, include:
a. Inter-faith development day; I can arrange and customise to suit local requirements
b. Individuals to volunteer as faith visitors in the Lancashire schools scheme (2 above)
c. Scriptural reasoning – a tried and tested formula for small groups of Christian, Jews and Muslims to share in reading and discussing the scriptures
d. Church-Mosque twinning; where local contact already exists, a closer arrangement can be explored, using the model developed by the Christian-Muslim forum
4. District development plan. I hope to advise on relevant sections as the previous plan is reviewed.
Peter Lumsden (district interfaith dialogue officer) 3.4.18