Archive for July, 2010

Archbishop hosts encounter between local Christians and Muslims

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, hosted an event at Lambeth Palace which brought together 50 imams and clergy from 25 local areas to encourage and strengthen local interfaith relationships.

The Revd Mark Fisher, Andrew Stunell MP, Bishop Richard Cheetham, The Archbishop of Canterbury and Maulana Shahid Raza

The event was supported by Mr Andrew Stunell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government who spoke to the participants:

“Across the country, Christians and Muslims are making huge contributions to their communities in countless churches and mosques, charities and community groups. But, because they are often working towards similar goals, there is great potential for them to collaborate more.

“That is what this conference is about – challenging ignorance and building effective, friendly working relationships, not only between clergy and imams but also between their congregations. Inter faith activity is an important component of the Big Society we want to build, in which people work together for the common good and to tackle shared problems.”

The programme sought to celebrate and publicise the fruitful work done by these local dialogue groups, which are run by both mosques and churches in the local areas as well as in prison and hospital chaplaincies.

One example of the practical outworking of this is the Springfield Centre in Birmingham, a children’s centre that serves both mosque and parish church, as well as the rest of the community. The centre provides holistic support for children’s development and support to families with young children, as well as helping to foster local interfaith engagement.

The event, organised by the Christian Muslim Forum, provided an opportunity for many men and women from local churches and mosques to share their experiences of working with each other, and explore areas where they can work together locally on issues of shared concern.

The Christian Muslim Forum has brought together over 200 local leaders of both faiths since 2006 and will run the event in partnership with the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) and Churches Together in England (CTE). Participants have drafted a letter to go out to churches and mosques, encouraging leadership and congregations to meet and learn from each other.

Communities Together Preventing All Forms of Hate

The theme for this initiative is “Communities Together Preventing All Forms of Hate”.  This is to highlight civic responsibility and engagement which chimes with the aims of many national organizations, including inter-faith forums. The Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) have teamed up with the Christian-Muslim Forum, local schools and other places of worship in initiative open for all sections of the community to take part in this unique event.

We hope that this event will help raise further awareness of all manifestations of hate crime and the burdens placed on society by them. We also hope that this approach helps rekindle a new sense of collective community responsibility to curb the spread of hate crime, renewing our conviction that all people, faiths and cultures are able to live together in peace and harmony.

In preparation for the launch of the campaign, young people from 12 local schools have participated in an art competition themed on showing positive messages to challenge all manifestations of a hate crime. The winner of the competition will have his/her drawings printed on T-Shirts that will be worn by pupils. Sarah Teather MP, the minister of State at the Department of Education has kindly agreed to present the award during the morning session of this event. I would be grateful if you could deliver a short speech in this session.

There will be another session in the afternoon where community and religious representatives will gather to support this initiative and show their united stand against all forms of hate crime. You will also have an opportunity to view the art exhibition, displaying the drawings drawn by the pupils. The event will end with a symbolic reception function, which I hope your time will allow you to take part in.

This is the statement that was agreed and signed on the day:

‘We the undersigned pledge to support together the ‘Communities Preventing Hate Campaign’ by taking a stand against all promotion and encouragement of hatred between and within communities, whether religious or non-religious. We declare that there is no place in a harmonious society for groups or factions who aim to divide and undermine – our strength and future lie in our unity. We, therefore, oppose all forms of hate-crime and incitement to hatred, including:

  • Vilification of religion, religious believers and non-religious value systems
  • Gang-crime and mischievous fostering of inter-community tensions
  • Abuse of the vulnerable
  • Any offensive and aggressive extremism
  • All words and actions which justify and glorify domestic and international terrorism

We are committed to working towards the goal of all faith, and non-faith, communities working together to promote a new sense of collective community responsibility. Our vision is that such community responsibility has the power to curb all manifestations and expressions of hate-crime. In signing this statement we renew our conviction and commitment that people of all faiths and no faith are able to live together in peace and harmony.’

This is the agreed statement