Category: Dialogue

Archbishop launches Hindu Christian Forum

Archbishop launches Hindu Christian Forum – an opportunity for ‘dialogue and depth’

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Sri Shruti Dharma Das Ji launched the Hindu Christian Forum at Lambeth Palace yesterday evening, at an event which featured addresses from Andrew Stunell MP, Baroness Richardson and Lord Popat.

In an address at yesterday’s launch, the Archbishop said “The conversation of interfaith dialogue is always one where we look eagerly and expectantly for enrichment.  We’re not playing for victory, we’re seeking understanding from one another… by learning the depth of one another’s commitment and vision – dialogue and depth is what we all hope for.”

He praised the launch of the Hindu Christian Forum and the role it will play in facilitating dialogue: “I believe that a dialogue is about work, real labour, but also about surprise and excitement, and it is with that vision in mind that I commend this forum to you, thank you for your support of it, and ask for your continuing prayers and solidarity with the work it will do in the future.”

Dr Williams also spoke about his own early encounters with the Hindu faith.  He described reading a children’s version of the Ramayana in the school library when aged 12, and recalled the beauty, complexity and depth which captivated him at that early age.  He went on to say how later in life, while contemplating his own spiritual identity during a visit to India, he realised that “the historic Christian identity is something that constantly needs to be opened and enlarged, challenged and enriched in conversation”.

Speaking of a recent visit to Bangalore, he described a day of dialogue with religious leaders from a variety of Hindu traditions: “a deeply enriching experience – a day in which we were able to speak simply and directly about our traditions.  We were able to say together at the end of that conversation a number of things about our mutual respect and the understanding that we sought.”

The Hindu Christian Forum has been formed by a group of Hindus and Christians who have been meeting together since 2001. It has become a national forum partly in response to the findings of the ‘Bridges and Barriers to Hindu Christian Relations’ Report which was carried out by Dr Jessica Frazier of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. In his address, the Archbishop described the report as a “very creative and stimulating piece of work, which provides an enormous resource for reflecting on how dialogue can be pursued, and how at the grassroots level it is to be understood and worked with.”

Birmingham Interfaith launch for Near Neighbours

A £5 million fund was launched in Birmingham city centre today as  part of a series of events to mark inter-faith week. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Anita Ward, welcomed more than 40 faith leaders and voluntary sector representatives to the event in the Council House.

She was joined by the Dean of Birmingham, the Very Revd Catherine Ogle and the Bishop’s Director of Inter-faith relations, Dr Andrew Smith.

Dr Smith said: “Near Neighbours aims to strengthen existing interfaith networks and build new friendships at a local level by uniting faith communities to transform their neighbourhoods.

Grants of up to £5,000 are available to charities and faith communities to help them start a new project which will bring people from different faiths and ethnicities together. Since the end of September, more than £40,000 has been given out to groups across the 13 eligible wards.”

The fund is also supporting the work of the Christian-Muslim forum, the Nehemiah Programme and The Feast, a charity which brings young people of different faiths together to share their beliefs. Three Nehemiah community workers are due to take up posts in the city after Christmas.

Near Neighbours is a Government-funded programme which operates in four locations: Leicester, East London, parts of Bradford, Oldham and Burnley and 13 wards in Birmingham. In Birmingham it is based at the Faithful Neighbourhood Centre in Sparkhill.

Development Worker, Jessica Foster, said: “We are delighted by not only the number of applications we are receiving but also by their creativity and the range of projects we have funded. At the moment I seem to be receiving one application every day but we are keen that word of the fund reaches every community within the eligible areas of Birmingham and we reach beyond the usual suspects to the grass roots of our neighbourhoods.”

The eligible areas of Birmingham are the 13 wards of Ladywood, Soho, Nechells, Lozells and East Handsworth, Aston, Washwood Heath, Bordesley Green, Edgbaston, Moseley and Kings Heath, Sparkbook, Springfield, South Yardley and Hodge Hill.

For more information please contact

Jessica Foster
Near Neighbours Development Worker
Tel 0121 675 1155 or 07817 853452

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