A Taster of Activities being held for Inter Faith Week 2021, 14-21 November
The following are some examples of the activities happening during Inter Faith Week 2021.
For a more extensive list of the activities on offer this year, an activities calendar can be found on the Inter Faith Week website: https://www.interfaithweek.org/events/calendar
Remembrance: Inter Faith Week is timed to begin on Remembrance Sunday to encourage remembering together of the service of those of different backgrounds. Many will be taking part in multi faith remembrance services.
Week-long programmes: Week-long programmes are being held by bodies such as the Inter Faith Council for Wales (Cyngor Rhyngffydd Cymru) and taking place in a number of areas such as Birmingham, Kirklees, Medway, North Lincolnshire; Swindon, and York; at universities and at some schools and colleges.
Faith leaders UK/national faith community organisation leaders will be issuing special messages for the Week and faith leaders in a number of areas such as Dudley will be coming together for discussion or participating in local events.
Listening, talking, learning
- Many workplace networks such as NHS Digital and within the Civil Service will be using Inter Faith Week for staff to learn more about each other’s faiths and beliefs. For example, a Crown Prosecution Service panel from its Sikh and Jewish networks will be discussing the intersection between faith and justice in their faiths. Workplace chaplaincies are also playing an active role.
- There will be a special exhibition in Portcullis House, organised by the Speaker of the House of Commons. ‘Roots to Parliament’ will share stories of religion and faith from people who work across the House of Commons, including MPs.
- In schools, pupils of all ages will be taking part in a wide range of classroom activities, exploring different faiths and beliefs. For example, there will be a week of inter faith activities at Rose Lane Primary School in Romford and, in Strabane, a sample of work created by pupils will be exhibited alongside quotes and challenging questions, to encourage dialogue between those who view the exhibition.
- Universities and colleges, such as St Mary’s University, Twickenham and Swansea University, will see a wide range of events, many run by Students’ Unions and faith and belief societies, from ‘speed-faithing’ mutual learning activities to dialogue opportunities such as an ‘Inter Faith Café at the University of the West of England’. There are also chaplaincy-led activities such as a Scriptural Reasoning session organised by Kings College London Chaplaincy exploring the theme of 'Ecology and Theology'. Specialist institutions such as the Woolf Institute are participating and centres such as the Parkes Institute at Southampton University have full Week programmes coming up.
- There will be numerous faith quizzes from those in schools such as St Wilfrid’s C of E Academy Blackburn and Tollbar Academy in Grimsby to Connect in the North’s Inter Faith Week Rooots Diversity Quiz for staff, family carers and people with learning difficulties.
- Open days at places of worship and faith trails will take place in many areas, enabling people to learn more about these. For example:
- Newcastle Council of Faiths is organising a ‘Friendship through Faith – Faith Coach’ to visit some of Newcastle's places of worship.
- A number of worship places across Southampton will be opening, including Al Madina Mosque, St Edmund’s Catholic Church, and Southampton Hebrew Congregation.
- A number of places of worship across the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham are opening their doors.
- ‘Faith trails’ or walking tours in areas such as Swansea, Burnley, Leicester and Newcastle.
- And for the more restfully inclined, Building Bridges in Burnley’s and Near Neighbours’ “Gentle walk visiting mosques and churches, finishing at Central Methodist Church for brew and cake.”
- In some cases, faiths are welcoming visitors to special events. For example, the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Preston, with the Lancashire Forum of Faiths, and the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Scunthorpe are inviting people to celebrations of the birth of Guru Nanak.
- NHS Trusts, such as the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust and hospital chaplaincies such as Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust are participating and inviting people to learn more about their work and about the faiths and beliefs of the people whom they help support.
- Police services in a number of areas such as London and North Humberside are taking part, with Police Chaplaincy UK taking a lead in encouraging and supporting involvement.
- A number of museums are holding linked exhibitions. For example, Epping Forest District Museum is putting on a display of objects selected by religious denominations in the district, which groups feel reflect key attributes of their religious practice and community.
- A Faith and Food event at Huddersfield Hindu Temple will be raising awareness of different types of foods in the Hindu faith and enabling participants to get to know one another and share a few food thoughts!
- Local inter faith groups will be holding dialogues and learning events on themes and topics of shared interest. For example, Fermanagh and Omagh Interfaith Group, with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, is holding a learning event linked to a Baha’i Anniversary.
- A number of organisations around the UK are this year taking part in the IFN ‘Inter Faith Buddies’ programme where two individuals of different backgrounds have conversations in person or online about different aspects of their faith or belief and how it shapes/supports their daily lives.
- The Council of Christians and Jews is pairing local Christians and Jews with one another, inviting them to spend an inter faith evening together. Jewish hosts will entertain local members of Christian communities, and welcome them to a traditional ritual of the Jewish Sabbath.
- Dialogues are taking place from a number of different perspectives – whether of different faiths or beliefs or also reflecting other aspects of identity. For example, the Mosaic Trust is hosting a webinar for exploration of the intersection of faith and LGBT+ identity, looking at interpretations of religious texts that include LGBT+ persons of faith.
- Religious/non-religious belief dialogues will be taking place and this dimension has been featured, for example, in Humanistically Speaking.
- Some discussions will focus on particular themes, for example a round table discussion with representatives of different faiths from the Maidstone Interfaith Network at Heart of Kent Hospice will be a chance to explore different beliefs around the topic of death and dying.
- The Inter Faith Network for the UK will be holding a roundtable relating to women’s local inter faith initiatives.
Responding to COVID-19
- At Anglia Ruskin University, a panel of faith and community leaders will be discussing theological and sociological responses to the pandemic with speakers from Chelmsford’s Cathedral, Jewish Community, Mosque, and Hindu Society and ARU’s Buddhist Associate Chaplain
- Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, Tower Hamlets Council and Faith Action are hosting ‘Bridge over troubled waters’ which will celebrate how faith groups have provided essential support to residents, before and during the pandemic, and have been at the heart of providing support for people, particularly those facing the worst health and social inequalities.
- In Woking, there will be an Inter Faith Week prayer vigil for all whose lives have been affected by the pandemic, with prayers from members of different faiths. It will be opened by the Lord Mayor, with the Lord Lieutenant giving closing remarks.
- A workshop will take place at the St Philip’s Centre Leicester exploring the impact of COVID-19 on different communities.
- There will be a tree-planting ceremony at Middlesex University in memory of friends and colleagues who died during the pandemic, led by Middlesex Inter Faith Network and Barnet Multi Faith Forum. Saplings are being donated by the Woodland Trust.
- In Solihull, the Council and the Faiths Forum will help plant bulbs and wildflowers in newly planted Hope Coppice which is a place for people to remember and reflect on the pandemic.
Tackling social issues from climate change to food poverty and domestic abuse. Practical volunteering and social issues are the focus of a number of events.
- Members of West Midlands Youth Interfaith Hub will be helping the Faith and Belief Forum serve meals to refugees at St Germain’s Church in Birmingham.
- Many activities will be taking place for both Mitzvah Day and Inter Faith Week. For example, in the weeks leading up to Mitzvah Day, faith communities in Bradford and Leeds, with the involvement of Leeds Jewish Representative Council, Diocese of Leeds, BEAP, and Wellsprings Together, have been coming together to collect donations for women’s refuges in the two cities. Mitzvah Day will see items packed ready for delivery.
- The Multi-Faith Chaplaincy at Goldsmiths, University of London is hosting a presentation and discussion on ‘Faith, Climate and Justice’.
- Interfaith Wolverhampton is holding a conference on Climate Change.
- Linked to COP26, Birkenhead Central Library, with Wirral Deen Centre and Wirral Council, is hosting an exhibition of local school children's work about the three Abrahamic faiths' responses to the natural world.
- A special ‘Week of Prayers and Devotion on Hope for the Environment’ is being held by Bangor Interfaith Group.
- Bath Interfaith Group is hosting ‘Inter faith reflections on COP26: A Hindu / Christian Dialogue’.
- There will be a youth debate on the question of ‘Faith, Freedom and Equality: do they go together?’, led by Islington Faiths Forum and partners.
- Faiths Forum for London and the Women’s Interfaith Network are holding a webinar on faith communities and tackling domestic violence and in Birmingham Muslim and Jewish women of Nisa Nashim West Midlands will be standing together against VAWG (violence against women and girls).
- Hertsmere Forum of Faiths is arranging a visit to Borehamwood Foodbank, with a presentation on the experiences of the Foodbank during lockdown, their Fuel Poverty alleviation scheme, and their future plans.
- The Charity Commission for England and Wales and the SAFE Programme by the Community Security Trust (CST) are holding a Security Awareness webinar for faith charities, in particular Places of Worship.
Music, poetry, visual arts and crafts
- The ‘Batley Poets’ will be holding ‘Anything Goes’, a special Inter Faith Week poetry session at Batley Library and Art Gallery.
- There will be guided tours of the Interfaith Sculpture Park on Romney Marsh in Kent.
- This year art and photography competitions are proving particularly popular. Just a few:
- The Avenue Junior School in Norwich with an art competition on the theme of ‘friendship’ and Salisbury Primary School Walsall on the theme of faiths united.
- Polegate Primary School art and poetry competition.
- Cynon Valley Museum and Rhondda Cynon Raff Community Safety Partnership poster competition showcasing young people’s interpretation of faith and belief.
- An inter faith photography competition for Swansea University students, organised by Swansea Council and the Swansea Inter Faith Forum.
- At the University of Derby, the Multi Faith Centre building will be transformed into the backdrop for the student-led light and film installation that will share the importance and symbolism of light to different faiths and beliefs.
- York Unitarian Chapel will be displaying the special quilt created by members and friends of the York Interfaith Group during the pandemic (also online).
- The All Faiths Network is holding an Inter Faith Week concert.
Sport, physical exercise and wellbeing
- An Inter Faith Football Tournament will be taking place with Burnley FC and Building Bridges in Burnley.
- ‘Inter Faith on Two Wheels’ – the Nishkam Civic Association and the Bahu Trust in Birmingham are encouraging people to cycle together for about 10 miles, visiting and passing through many of Birmingham's places of worship along the way.
- Community 360, Colchester and Essex Faith Covenant Steering Group are holding training on social prescribing and how Faith Based Organisations can contribute to it, not just as providers but also referrers.
- County Durham Faiths Network is holding an event “Human flourishing: living well in challenging times - a personal faith perspective”, with perspectives from individuals from different faith traditions and belief systems.
Services and devotional activities
- A multi faith service on the theme of ‘Humanity’s Awakening – Rebuilding Our World’ held by Guildford and Godalming InterFaith Forum with Surrey Faith Links.
- 2 online sessions at home every day of Inter Faith Week supported by South Lakeland Equality and Diversity Partnership (SLEDP). Participants are welcomed to read The Golden Rule and to undertake an appropriate practice from any faith or none (e.g. chanting, meditation, reading, reciting).
- Inter faith devotionals and prayers in a number of areas.
- A prayer walk arranged by Enfield Faiths Forum and Southgate Methodist Church, around Grovelands Park, Southgate in London. At each stop, a different faith group will lead with some "Words of Hope".
- ‘Praying for Peace – a multi-faith peace ceremony’ with faith and civic leaders, at Tooting Broadway Underground Station, arranged by Balham and Tooting Community Association (BATCA).
- In a first for Inter Faith Week, Halifax and District Amateur Radio Society have teamed up with The Blackley Centre, Elland, to put on a special event with an amateur radio station celebrating and raising awareness of Inter Faith Week. The Special Event Station will be demonstrating amateur radio to the public