Pilgrimages, Walks, Faith Trails and Open Door Days

Inter Faith Week is a time when many places of worship open their doors to welcome others in to learn more, either as part of a pilgrimage, walk or faith trail or an open door day.

Across the UK, gurdwaras, churches, mandirs, mosques, synagogues, viharas and other places of worship threw open their doors and welcomed in those of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds to learn about the hosting community’s traditions and to share conversation and hospitality.

Places of worship were either visited as part of a larger ‘pilgrimage’, walk or faith trail, as a one-off event or as part of a festival or service. Visits were organised by faith communities themselves, local inter faith groups and sometimes by other bodies such as local authorities or student groups.  

Examples of Pilgrimages, Walks, Faith Trails and Open Door Days included:

  • A visit to the new Shaare Sedek Sephardic Synagogue in Altrincham, organised by Altrincham Interfaith Group. Visitors listened to a short talk from the Rabbi, received a tour of the building and enjoyed refreshments.
  • Bristol Multi Faith Forum’s ‘Faith Walks’, jointly organised with the Bristol City Council Inner City Health Improvement Team. Walkers visited a Hindu Temple, the Baha’i centre, the Progressive Synagogue, a Baptist Church, a Mosque and a Gurdwara. At each venue a short talk was given and refreshments served.
  • The Watford Interfaith Association ‘Annual Pilgrimage’, including visits to a Gurdwara, where Langar was served; St Mary’s Parish Church; the Central Mosque; St Andrews Church; and the Watford and District Synagogue.
  • A series of visits to places of worship across Gravesend, organised over five days during Inter Faith Week by Gravesham Borough Council and Kent Equality Cohesion Council among others. Visits were organised to a Gurdwara, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints chapel, St George’s Church, St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church and the Dartford Muslim Cultural Centre.
  • An open invitation to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick, every day during Inter Faith Week to learn about Sikhism and join a communal meal. Speakers from all over the UK facilitated discussions.
  • A Sheffield Interfaith celebration of Inter Faith Week called ‘Hidden Sheffield’, where participants were invited to visit some of the faith communities along the River Don to deepen understanding of local faith traditions.
  • An Interfaith Walk organised by the Sunderland Interfaith Forum. Among other activities, walkers listened to Nigerian Drumming, witnessed Islamic Prayer, visited a new chapel and enjoyed hospitality at the Gurdwara. The day ended by joining Diwali celebrations at Sunderland Museum.
  • A Faith Walk in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan organised by the LGBT support service Rainbow Bridge and the National Hate Crime Report & Support Centre Wales.
  • A remembrance walk in the Nene Valley, Northamptonshire, ‘Remembering by the River’, organised by the East Northants Faith Group and Northampton Inter Faith Forum. A short act of remembrance was observed during the walk.
  • The Woking ‘Pilgrimage of Understanding’, organised by Woking People of Faith. Participants visited the United Reformed Church, the Quaker Meeting House, St. Dunstan’s Roman Catholic Church, Shah Jahan Mosque and the ‘Light House’, where refreshments were served and a ‘religious fair’ was held.
  • A visit to Middlesbrough Gurdwara by students at Teeside University as part of their ‘All Different All Equal’ agenda. Participants heard a short talk about Sikhism, and were then given a tour of the building.
  • Two faith trails in Bolton organised by Bolton Interfaith Council, involving local schools, including Bolton School and Bolton Muslim Girls School. Students visited a number of local places of worship, including Emmanuel Church, the Swaminarayan Mandir and Zakariyya Mosque. The events also featured a discussion about the importance of community cohesion. 

Published 18 January 2017