Interfaith Week became Interfaith Fortnight in Birmingham with a packed programme of launches, workshops and activities to celebrate all that is happening locally and nationally to bring people from different faiths together.
We kicked off here a day early with the fabulous launch of our Faithful Friends photography exhibition. We are so excited about that and there is so much to say that we have a separate page on our website dedicated to it and will blog about it later.
The following Tuesday, our photographer, Dee at Outroslide, led a worskhop for us on taking better pictures which was both fun and interesting. Many of us revealed that we did not really know how to use our cameras properly so we are hoping to run more workshops in the New Year – watch this space.
On Thursday we went to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, give his final reflections on interfaith relations. It was wonderful to hear him praise the state of relationships in the UK, describing them as the envy of many countries in Europe, and even more wonderful to hear him praise the work of Near Neighbours, urge Government to fund it again and describe it as the embodiment of recent thinking about interfaith engagement. We are hoping audio of the text will appear soon on his website.
We were delighted to welcome the Christian-Muslim Forum to Birmingham on Monday (26th November) to launch their report on their women’s work. There was a fantastic atmosphere as Christian and Muslim women chatted over lunch, heard about the local and national friendships being built and then joined in a drumming workshop together. Plans are now afoot for more drumming workshops in the New Year – watch this space.
The following day we were back in London for the national Together in Service celebration organised by our funders, the Department for Communities and Local Government. It was great to hear Pritpal and Kiran from Nishkham talk about their engagement in faith-based social action and we got a few seconds to explain to Baroness Warsi what great things are happening in Birmingham thanks to their support of Near Neighbours.
It has also been a great pleasure this week to join in the celebrations at the Nishkam centre to mark Guru Nanak’s birthday and to hear Brian Maclaren speak about his book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road. Urging Christians to a strong, benevolent identity that approaches people of different faiths offering solidarity and hospitality, he affirmed what is already happening here in Birmingham. Near Neighbours is delighted to be one small part of the relationships and activities that are bringing people together and building stronger and more compassionate communities in this city.