A Taster of Activities being held for Inter Faith Week 2022, 13-20 November
The following are some examples of the activities happening during Inter Faith Week 2022.
The following are some examples of the activities happening during Inter Faith Week 2022. For a more extensive list see: https://www.interfaithweek.org/events/calendar. Activities continue to be added daily.
Faith leaders: UK/national faith community leaders will be issuing special messages for the Week with a focus on the importance in our diverse society of religious literacy. Faith leaders in a number of areas such as Dudley will be coming together for discussion or participating in local events. Swansea Faith Forum and Swansea University will be hosting a panel discussion on Women of Faith in Leadership, with three senior women leaders from the Church in Wales, Muslim Council of Britain and SGIUK.
Remembrance: Inter Faith Week is timed to begin on Remembrance Sunday to encourage remembering together the service of those of different backgrounds. Many will be taking part in multi faith remembrance services. For example, in the London Borough of Croydon, there will be a Remembrance event recognising people of all faiths that fought in the World Wars with input from the Mayor and Civic Mayor, Lord Lieutenant, and faith leaders; in Burnley, there will be prayer, worship and remembrance led by faith leaders from across the community; and Leicester will see an inter faith commemoration led by the Sikh Welfare & Cultural Society and ABF The Soldiers' Charity at the Brahma Kumaris Centre.
Celebrations: Many celebratory activities will be happening. For example, Plymouth Centre for Faiths and Cultural Diversity will be hosting a celebratory afternoon of performances and presentations from different faiths in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Devon.
‘Faith trails’ and inter faith walks are one of the most popular Inter Faith Week activities. The Inter Faith Council for Wales / Cyngor Rhyngffydd Cymru is holding an inter faith walk in Cardiff, visiting a mosque, a gurdwara and a Hindu Temple (following visits to places of worship of other faiths last year). Newcastle Council of Faiths is organising a ‘Friendship through Faith – Faith Coach’ to visit some of Newcastle's places of worship and Watford Inter Faith Association is holding its annual ‘inter faith pilgrimage’ this year between six places of worship in Watford Town. In the London Borough of Brent, a Peace Walk is taking place, visiting some of Brent's diverse places of worship en route. Woking People of Faith has arranged a walk around Byfleet, where walkers can talk with people of faith from a number of communities and learn about different places of worship; and the MultiFaith Centre at the University of Derby is holding a walk around several sacred places associated with the city's diverse communities, taking in a church, mosque, gurdwara, Hindu temple, and ending in lunch at the Derby Pakistani Community Centre.
Open door days and invitations: Also popular are ‘open door days’, where places of worship invite visitors to come in and learn about what goes on inside. In some areas a number will be doing so through coordinated programmes. In Cheltenham, the Borough Council, the University of Gloucestershire and Cheltenham Interfaith have arranged a special programme, ‘Sharing our Spiritual Homes’ where various faith groups will be opening their doors to welcome visitors to help participants deepen their understanding of different faiths and to reflect on their own beliefs. In London, Hillingdon Interfaith Community has arranged for a number of places of worship across the borough, such as Baitul Amn Mosque and Uxbridge Roman Catholic Church, to invite guests to observe their services and/or talk with members. In some cases, faiths are welcoming visitors to special events. For example, linked to a number of openings in North Lincolnshire, Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Scunthorpe is inviting people to the gurdwara for celebrations of the Gurpurab/birth of Guru Nanak, which is on the eve of Inter Faith Week.
Dialogues and discussions are taking place from a number of different perspectives. For example, at Chester Cathedral, leaders of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths will be exploring ‘the meaning of divine love’. Swindon Inter Faith Group is holding a faith leader question time to explore what local faith groups can do on peace and reconciliation. 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 Inter Faith Network and Humanists UK are helping set up a number of religious/non-religious buddy dialogues. There are also many lectures and talks taking place on topics from a talk on Paganism (Kith of the Earthen Star) to the work of scholar Kenneth Cragg (Centre for Christian-Muslim Studies, Oxford).
Social issues Inter Faith Week is a time where faith and inter faith response to social need comes to the fore. For example, County Durham Faiths Network is holding an evening of interfaith encounter on ‘Helping those in need’. In partnership with Luton based community initiative Grassroots, the Church of England Diocese of St Albans is hosting an Inter Faith Week event at St Albans Abbey focusing on ‘God’s Justice in this World’. In Leeds, the Leeds Church Institute and Leeds Community Foundation are holding an activity looking at funding support and opportunities for UKME led/faith-based community groups, who help people in Leeds; and in London, Barnet Multi Faith Forum, with input from the Chair of the AllParty Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society, LB Barnet, the Federation of Small Businesses, and faith community contributors, is addressing ‘Community and Faith response to the cost of living crisis’; Bushey Inter Faith Forum is holding a Panel at Bushey United Synagogue with speakers from different faiths discussing prayer and the pandemic; and a Merton Citizens’ Scriptural Reasoning evening exploring texts on poverty and, in the context of Living Wage Week (happening the same week) and the cost of living crisis, reflecting on, and issuing a call to, pursue justice. In Leicester, a conference on ‘Faith and Domestic Abuse’ will be taking place, led by HOPE Training & Consultancy with a wide range of local contributors. The Faith & Belief Forum is holding an exploration of how restorative justice frameworks and practices might help repair the harmful impacts of hate crime.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust will be holding an event exploring the stories and experiences of different faith groups and individuals of faith during the Holocaust, Nazi persecutions and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. While highlighting the many different individual and collective experiences of people of faith it will also discuss why Holocaust Memorial Day is a time when all faiths come together to remember those that suffered and to think about how we can stand together against identity-based bigotry, hatred and persecution today.
The Interfaith Animal Alliance is holding and supporting a number of events focusing on moral treatment of animals by drawing on the combined wisdom of all faiths.
There are also many practical acts of support taking place. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stockport and Stockport Interfaith are collecting coats for the ‘Wrap up Manchester’ initiative. In Birmingham, Near Neighbours and the Al-Mahdi Institute has invited faith and community leaders to join ‘Equality for All’ conversational workshops, to give grassroots input on how to lead inclusive and fair local services. A number of activities to help the local community are being held both for Inter Faith Week and the Jewish-led day of social action, Mitzvah Day, for example a London Wildlife Trust Mitzvah Day / Inter Faith Week day of conservation volunteering at Walthamstow Wetlands.
The environment is very much to the fore again this year, particularly with #COP27. The Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Chester, Warrington Council of Faiths and Faiths4Change are holding an ‘Inter Faith Debate on the Climate Crisis’. Regional faith leaders and practitioners, representatives from faith-based charities and climate action groups, members of University staff and students will debate questions such as: What do religions say about the value of the planet and how we should treat it? How might religions provide a motivation for climate action, and what might faith-informed climate action look like? Can faiths work together for climate action? In London, Richmond Council and Climate Action Richmond are holding an Inter Faith Week event focusing on the intersection between faith and climate action and Middlesex University, with partners, is holding an Eco Show and Tell Sustainability Fair. Hertsmere Forum of Faiths has arranged tree planting as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy programme. Yeovil Art Space is holding an exhibition called ‘Natural Reflections’ showcasing artworks from across Somerset through which artists share their interpretations of faith, belief, and their connections to the natural world, giving insight into how various faith/belief traditions teach about caring for the earth and our environment.
There will also be a number of services and devotional activities, for example services at Christ the Cornerstone in Milton Keynes and Christ Church in Great Yarmouth; Universal Peace Prayers in Exeter; a Baha’i devotional in Cardiff with readings from different faiths in Welsh; and Hindu Bhajans and Sikh Shabads in the Contemplation Room at York St John University.
Music, poetry, visual arts and crafts always feature strongly in Inter Faith Week. Community craft groups from different faith groups across Kirklees have been busy across several months making quilting squares on the theme of HOME and what it means to the people of Kirklees. The final quilt will be displayed during Inter Faith Week. Nearby, the Batley Poets will be holding an Inter Faith Week session at the Batley Library (one of the main kinds of Inter Faith Week event that libraries around the country will be hosting). This year art and photography competitions are proving very popular – particularly in schools.
Schools and sixth form colleges: Pupils in many schools and colleges will be taking part in classroom and whole school activities. For example, at Briar Hill Primary in Northampton there will be different activities throughout the week, celebrating and learning about the six different religions reflected in their school. In Maidstone, representatives of different faiths will co-host an assembly at Langley Park Primary Academy and then each attend classes through the morning to share information about their faiths and answer questions (arranged by Maidstone Inter Faith Network). Eden Girls’ School (LB Waltham Forest) will be holding an ‘Interfaith Breakfast’ where students can interact with faith leaders, community representatives, and local schoolteachers.
Inter Faith Week is not just for diverse areas, and schools’ involvement demonstrates that. For example, the Cornwall Faith Forum will be working with 14 Church primary schools in Cornwall using online testimonies of young people from Muslim, Jewish and Hindu faith communities followed by recorded question and answer sessions. Sixth formers from a cluster of schools across Cumbria will virtually meet 'voices' from the Virtual Voices in Religious Education (VVRE) Project, with the opportunity to watch 'personal worldview' digital film clips, ask questions live, and dialogue with each other.
HE and FE colleges will see a wide range of events. Many campus events will be run by Students’ Unions and faith and belief societies, from ‘speed-faithing’ mutual learning activities to dialogue opportunities. For example, Cambridge University SU is collaborating with student-led faith and religious groups in Cambridge to put on a series of activities for the Week; the Royal Veterinary College at the College SU are holding an ‘inter faith fayre’ to build relationships between the various faith societies, and raise awareness among the college community; and Interfaith at University College London is holding a mini-fair to learn about some of the faiths represented at UCL with showcases from student societies and a chance for conversation. There are also many chaplaincy-led activities such as a gardendedication at the Wolverhampton University Multi Faith Chaplaincy where The Black Country and Birmingham Wildlife Trusts will be on hand to help students and staff think about a 'rewilded campus' and caring for the natural world. There are also activities at academic institutions such as the Parkes Institute at Southampton University.
Workplaces: A number of workplace networks such as Network Rail and Civil Service staff networks will be using Inter Faith Week for staff to learn more about one another’s faiths and beliefs. There are also activities focused on supporting faith in the workplace, for example a discussion hosted by the National Physical Laboratory on Religious Diversity in the Workplace; a Brookes Enterprise Support (Oxford Brookes University) workshop about faith-inclusive working practice; and a Faith and Belief Forum, “We don't talk religion or politics!” discussion of principles for faith inclusion in the workplace.
Local authorities are using the Week to help increase religious literacy and cohesion. For example, Suffolk County Council is working with the East of England Faiths Agency on an Inter Faith Week exhibition; creating videos of people talking about their faith to share throughout the council; and hosting a panel discussion for staff to talk to with people of different religions/beliefs about those. Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council is joining with the Diocese of Worcester and Top Church Dudley to host a faith leaders’ reception, and in Reading, the Mayor, with Reading Inter Faith Group, is hosting an event to discuss opportunities for inter faith in the town. Police, fire and ambulance services will also be participating. However, details of their activities are not usually published in advance.
NHS Trusts and Care Foundation Trusts are participating in a number of areas, inviting people to learn more about their work and about the faiths and beliefs of the people whom they help support. For example, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Royal Hallamshire Hospital are holding an event for people to meet the Chaplains who provide pastoral, spiritual and religious care and to learn how they work in collaboration as faith leaders in a clinical setting. Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust is planning Inter Faith Week events across its four acute hospitals and 20 community sites. The Pennine Care Foundation Trust is planning activities across Stockport, Tameside, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale with stalls in each borough with a lot of information about the different faiths including copies of its new Faith and Culture booklet which will help staff understand the faiths, beliefs and culture of their service users and their carers.
Hospices taking part include St Clare Hospice in Essex, where members of different faith communities, and those with non-religious beliefs, are hosting an afternoon of interactive stalls – sharing beliefs, celebrating culture and in particular discussing different faiths’ traditions around death and dying. St Margaret’s Hospice Care in Taunton, with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Community Council Somerset, is taking a special inter faith roadshow to multiple locations in Somerset to ‘celebrate, share and educate’.
The Week will see many exhibitions in museums, galleries and other spaces. For example, Headstone Museum and Gallery in Harrow, London will be holding an exhibition, ‘Harrow’s Inter Faith’, spotlighting those who have paved the way to increase awareness of the different faith communities in its multi faith borough. In Elland, W Yorks, the Blackley Centre is hosting a Religions for Peace UK Women of Faith Network exhibition, ‘The Dignity of Women’, highlighting the positive references about the status of women in the Sacred Scriptures of the Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian Religions.
Sports: Kirklees Council Cohesion Team, Yorkshire Cricket Club and local faith groups are holding an Inter Faith Week cricket tournament, with mixed teams, to create and deepen understanding between people of different backgrounds – young and old. Meanwhile, in Mirfield, there will be a friendly Boccia tournament. (Boccia is an accessible form of indoor bowling suitable for all ages and abilities and was designed specifically for athletes with a disability affecting locomotor function.)
Week-long programmes: Week-long programmes are taking place in a number of places such as Birmingham, the London Borough of Hillingdon, North Lincolnshire, and York.
Firsts: This year, Inter Faith Week sees its first ‘time capsule’ event. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will host a ceremony to celebrate the diversity of cultures and faiths that exist in the area by planting trees and burying a time capsule for future generations to enjoy and learn from. The trees will be planted in a diversity garden by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council staff, members of Fermanagh and Omagh Interfaith group and local volunteers. Following the tree planting, a time capsule, which contains artefacts from a variety of faiths and cultures in the district will be buried to be opened in 100 years’ time.