Inter Faith Week is a time of the year that brings faith communities together, and many choose to celebrate through practical cooperation for the common good.
An array of multi faith social action events took place during Inter Faith Week. Popular initiatives included helping the homeless; campaigning for environmental change; improving public spaces; action on behalf of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers; and symbolic actions in support of world peace.
A huge variety of organisations took part, including places of worship, local inter faith groups, public agencies and national faith community bodies, inter faith bodies , voluntary organisations such as those working with refugees and the homeless and public agencies.
Mitzvah Day took place close to Inter Faith Week and some Mitzvah Day activities were held early, during the Week. Mitzvah Day is led by the Jewish community and is one of three annual major days of faith-linked social action throughout the year, along with Sewa Day and Sadaqa Day. Mitzvah Day encourages activities to be held on a multi faith basis.
Examples of social action events and projects organised during Inter Faith Week included:
- A Walk of Witness in solidarity with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers held in Plymouth by the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth, the Anglican Diocese of Exeter and the Devon Faith and Belief Forum.
- A Warrington Council of Faiths visit to Warrington YMCA where faith communities came together to help the homeless by providing food and offering support.
- A ‘show of unity’ at Stoke-on-Trent College, where people of all faiths and none were encouraged to plant tulips for world peace. Local residents, community leaders and students highlighted the importance of inter faith work in the community and efforts to stand against terrorism following recent atrocities.
- Members of the Jewish-Muslim women’s organisation Nisa Nashim coming together to cook meals for the homeless to jointly mark Mitzvah Day and Inter Faith Week in Finchley, North London.
- The ‘Multi-Faith Tree Planting’ in Wakefield, attended by the Mayor and Mayoress and people from a wide range of faith communities. The event featured the symbolic planting of a Chestnut Leaf Oak Tree, and featured discussions on faith and caring for the environment.
- Volunteering at the Southampton City Mission Foodbank, led by the University of Southampton and the Solent University Jewish Society.
- An evening of dialogue and social action in Cambridge, organised by Cambridge City of Sanctuary, which brought together local faith and community leaders to discuss practical action in support of refugees in the city. The event included a collection for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers living in Calais, Northern France.
- The launch of the ‘Love Your Neighbour’ project in Middlesbrough, held by the Middlesbrough Interfaith Network. The event showcased some of the work of local faith groups, charities and community groups that offer care and support for others. The event included the symbolic signing of a banner by civic and faith leaders in the city.
- A conference organised in Leicester by the St Philips Centre and Trade Sexual Health launching ‘Sexuality, Gender, Identity and Belief: The Leicester Approach’, a new project promoting good relationships between faith communities and LGBT groups in the city.
- ‘Interfaith Volunteering’ at the Liverpool Guild of Students. Volunteers from a range of faiths and beliefs came together to rejuvenate the Guild’s green spaces and roof garden.
- A ‘Carbon Hero Iftaar’ at East London Mosque. The event featured dialogue and discussion about how faith affects interaction with the environment and how we can all take action to become ‘Carbon Heroes’. Discussion was followed by an inter faith Iftaar.
To see social action projects and events that took place during Scottish Interfaith Week visit http://www.interfaithscotland.org/scottish-interfaith-week/.
Published 18 January 2017