Inter Faith Week 2016: Serving together

Inter Faith Week begins this year on Remembrance Sunday and has encouraged participants to mark this together as part of the Week.

Shared remembrance of those who have served their country in war, and in the pursuit of peace, is a powerful aspect of our common society.  Many groups are holding Inter Faith Week services and events in which people of many faiths and beliefs remember together.

While on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday we remember particularly service in war and the pursuit of peace, people of different faiths serve their communities and wider society in many ways in the course of daily lives.

IFN’s national Faith Communities Forum last week, included presentations on Sewa Day, from Vinaya Sharma, and Mitzvah Day from its Interfaith Chair Daniela Pears.

Daniela spoke about the role of Mitzvah Day, and of Mitzvah 365, in encouraging service through volunteering to make a practical difference.  In the course of Inter Faith Week, many groups will be holding activities which also lift up this value of service to others: from meals for the homeless in Northampton to responding to refugees, in areas such as Cambridge, Cheltenham and Plymouth, as well as tackling global issues like climate change.

The Week has an amazing array of events. The most northerly event is being held in Shetland and the furthest South in Feock, near Truro! Events can be seen on the Inter Faith Week website:

Jatinder Singh Birdi (a Co-Chair), Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth and Dr Harriet Crabtree (Inter Faith Network for the UK)
Jatinder Singh Birdi (a co-chair of Inter Faith Network for the UK), with Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth and Dr Harriet Crabtree (Executive Director of IFN)

A wide range of organisations will be taking part, from faith groups, inter faith bodies, and belief groups to schools, youth organisations, universities, hospitals, police forces, football clubs, businesses.  This year, Scottish Interfaith Week takes place at the same time as Inter Faith Week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Jewish community is playing a very active role, participating in many events, such as the Inter Faith Family Celebration Day at the Jewish Museum, London;  a range of Council of Christians and Jews events– including on campus; welcoming visitors into synagogues such as at the new Shaare Sedek Sephardic Jewish Synagogue in Hale Barns, a ‘Shalom, Salam’ poetry event and halal and kosher meal at Levenshulme Inspire in Manchester; and a York Interfaith event on ‘Jewish discourse and the Golden Rule ’ led by Student Rabbi Deborah Blausten.

The launch of the Interfaith toolkit from this year.
The launch of the Interfaith toolkit from this year.

The Week has received messages of support, including from Prime Minister Theresa May, who says:  “Inter Faith Week is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the incredible diversity and richness of faith communities in Britain. It is also a chance for people of all faiths to come together and to highlight the invaluable contribution they collectively make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society” and Communities Secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP: “Inter Faith Week is all about bringing people together to help improve understanding of different faiths and share what we have in common. I hope lots of people will get involved and celebrate the different faiths that make up British life.”

Communities Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth has also strongly encouraged involvement in the course of many visits to places of worship and in speaking at IFN’s recent National Meeting.



About the Author
Dr Harriet Crabtree is Executive Director of Inter Faith Network for the UK
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