Inter-Faith Week

Inter-Faith Week 2014 in Edinburgh was a huge success. Here is a summary of it, taken from the latest issue of Inter-Faith Matters:

This year’s Inter-faith Week saw unprecedented numbers attending all our key events. It was our most successful inter-faith week to date. Beginning with the opening event at the University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy; it was not only an inter-faith evening, but also an intercultural one. Each artistic performance of the evening, from Kirsten Newell’s two Bharatnatyam dance routines, to Akshay Deol’s rendering of a Mohammed Rafi classic and Adam Ali’s Sufi inspired dance were inspiring and evoked tremendous emotion in the audience. Those at the event were given a sneak preview of what to expect in the coming week – which was a lot!

Ali Newell’s contributions in organizing this wonderful night must be acknowledged and applauded. Ali Newell and the Chaplaincy also hosted another well attended event during Inter-faith week: Kishan Manocha’s lecture on ‘Advancing Religious Freedom’.

The premiere screening of ‘Faith & I’ took place on the 24th of November at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.
Here are a selection of comments that were gathered from the feedback forms after the premiere:

‘Need to get this DVD into Scottish schools and community youth groups.’

‘ Loved it. Very pleased how the camera went into their personal spaces etc and they portrayed it so well.’

‘The relationship developed between the film makers/director/producer and the three young people was of a quality where enabled them to speak confidently and very clearly about themselves and their faith experiences. They came over as human, full of warm personality and enjoying their lives fully. This combined very effectively with their being a part of their faith community making lives of faith attractive and purposeful […] Thank you. A very good resource for all ages to see.’

To sum it all…

‘We rarely hear directly about faith from young people these days, and it was encouraging and heart-warming that Sehrish, Ekjot and Clare were able to be so articulate about theirs. They defied all stereotypes of young people with their well thought-out views, their broad understanding and their awareness of other faiths and world affairs. We must give huge credit to Nur Sakina Kader, who led the project and must have spent many many hours and had huge patience, and the film-maker, Justine Gordon-Smith. It was skilfully and compassionately presented and much appreciated by the large audience in the Storytelling Centre. We look forward to a sequel! Many thanks.’

This year, we introduced a new activity called ‘Faith Exchange’ where individuals of various faiths were paired up with someone of a different faith from their own. They were then given a few minutes to answer a question that had been announced. Participants would have to swap partners after every couple of rounds. It was a timed and fast-paced activity. Some questions were rather unusual which participants had not spared a thought before. Everyone had to be spontaneous. We won’t share what these questions were so that you’ll join us at next year’s Faith Exchange! Time flew by for this activity; such was the participants’ involvement that even the biscuits were not finished during the tea break!

More somber affairs were dealt with at the Annual Religious Leaders Conference at City Chambers on the 27th of November. This year, Simon Keyes from St Ethelburgas’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace facilitated the conference. ‘Understanding the Role of Meditation in Religion’ on the 28th of November saw three speakers from different traditions: Alex Holmes (Christian Meditation Scotland), Bryan Webb (Wild Geese Sangha) and Ani Rinchen Khandro (Kagyu Samye Dzong Edinburgh) come together to share their views and experiences. The discussions were chaired by Simon Maclaren. On the second last day of Inter-faith week, Rabbi Mark Solomon led an Inter-faith Shabbat service at St Mark’s. This was followed by a shared special Kiddush. Members of different faith communities attended this service. The repeated messages of loving and praising God during the service were ones which all could connect with. There was an especially beautiful passage which Rabbi Solomon read that was titled, ‘The Human Family’ which resonates with all who are involved in inter-faith activities. Here is an excerpt:

Who are our brothers and sisters? Are they only members of our own family or clan or people or nation? All men and women, of every colour and creed, of every race and nation, are our brothers and sisters, for we are all members of the human family. Like brothers and sisters, we should feel a sense of common identity. Like brothers and sisters, we should feel each other’s pain and seek each other’s welfare. For God, who created us, cares equally for all of us; therefore we should care equally for one another.

Last but not least: The Big Interfaith Quiz!
Over 70 participants this year gathered at the Mosque Kitchen. The quiz had a twist with a section on ‘Faith and Pop-Culture’. No one knew what car Pope Francis drove around the Vatican; they did not see that one coming! The Big Interfaith Quiz was a fantastic way to conclude this year’s Inter-faith week. We would like to thank everyone who came and lent their support during this hectic though undoubtedly inspiring and fun week! Keep in touch and hope to see you again soon!

For details last year’s Inter-Faith Week, kindly click on: Inter-Faith Week 2013