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Faith in the Public Sphere

The third ‘Birmingham Conversations’ took place recently on the theme of ‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ and explored the issue of how faith communities engage in all areas of public life.

The Conversations were attended by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Humanists, Muslims and Sikhs as well as people involved in local politics, business and education.

The group met once a month for six months which enabled friendships to grow and for trust to be built up so that difficult or controversial topics could be considered.

Under the heading of ‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ we discussed what it would mean for faith communities, and by extension all communities, to flourish in the public sphere. Can everyone flourish or does the flourishing of one community necessitate the diminishing or restricting of another?

We then went on to consider how what this flourishing might look like at work, in places of education, in political life, in the media and in the street during festivals or demonstrations.

A Policy Report of the findings was written by Dr Andrew Davies from the University of Birmingham which includes specific recommendations and can be downloaded here faith-in-the-public-sphere-policy-recommendations

A Summary of the conversations was produced which includes questions for discussion and is written with members of the public in mind to enable different groups to join in the conversation. A copy of the summary can be downloaded here. map-of-birmingham-conversationland

We invited two local artists, Jake Lever and Mandy Ross, to be artists in residence and reflect on what they heard during the conversations. As well as creatively facilitating conversations they produced artworks at the end as a response to the conversations.

The responses were:
A video of the Conversations which you can view below

A ‘Map of Conversationland’ by Mandy Ross which gives a poetic and artistic response


A painting ‘Dance’ by Jake Lever

Art Work

The painting is 375cm wide and 200cm high and comes in it’s own free standing display system. This is available for groups in the Birmingham area to host at no cost. It can be booked for a minimum of two weeks and comes with 100 copies of ‘A Map of Conversationland’. To enquire about hosting ‘Dance’ e-mail Debbie Browning at debbieb@cofebirmingham.com.


The Video in response to the Conversations

The Birmingham Conversations from Birmingham Conversations on Vimeo.




Faith Map launched at Birmingham Cathedral

A map of Birmingham faith communities was launched in the city’s cathedral on Tuesday 22nd November as part of Interfaith Week.

The web-based map allows people to search by postcode, ward or constituency and by faith tradition. It includes 632 places of worship from all the major religions practiced in the city.

The aims are to connect faith communities, help people new to the city find a place of worship, open and maintain links between the Council  and places of worship in Birmingham, support inter-faith activity and provide academics and other researchers with access to information about faith.

Speaking at the launch at Birmingham Cathedral, Councillor Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources said: “This is a website that serves the need of all faiths and helps encourage the values of trust, harmony and hope between people.

“I value and recognise the important role that faith communities play within Birmingham. They are at the heart of the city and help to support the on-going cohesion and integration between communities.”

Also speaking at the event, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart said: “I am delighted that we had the launch of the faith map in a religious building. Being in a secular society is one of the glories of living in our British society that has been replicated around the world.

“In a secular society religion should not only be respected but it should flourish. To be truly human, and to have a flourishing community of human beings, faiths must be allowed to flourish. With this kind of encouragement, that we have received today, people of faith will go on making their contribution, in a distinctive way, to making this city not one of the greatest, but the greatest, in the world.”

The faith map can be accessed at www.birminghamfaithmap.org.uk

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