Jonathan Sedgwick, Archdeacon of Southwark writes:
Across our diocese, we have strong and vital links with other faith communities – and Inter Faith-Week in November gave us many opportunities to celebrate their richness and deepen their quality. Many of these relationships have shown their worth in the tensions which have surfaced as a result of the conflict in Gaza and remind us that friendships and understanding enrich the lives of us all at any time – but are even more vital in times of difficulty. Here is a flavour of just a few of these events…
The Faiths Together in Lambeth organised a celebration of ‘Peace and Harmony’ at Lambeth Town Hall involving political and faith leaders, with representatives of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim community speaking about their own faith’s understanding of peace and reconciliation, recognising our work towards the common good, while acknowledging our diversity. Bishop Martin spoke of the ‘lasting peace that is available in the gift God wants to give us through our neighbour.’ He concluded that, ‘This gathering of diverse voices is surely a small but reassuring step toward the peace that the world needs so much’.
All the big challenges we face need people to come together – and none more so than tackling climate change. And just before Inter-Faith week, the Revd Anne Clarke (Area Dean of Dulwich and the Vicar of St Stephen’s Dulwich) joined a tree-planting event organized by the Faiths Forum for London in partnership with the Dulwich Estate with the support of the Mayor of London’s ‘Grow Back Greener Scheme’.
Rabbi Nathan Godleman (of the South London Liberal Synagogue in Streatham), Amir Eden (Chair of Living Bankside) and Archdeacon Jonathan Sedgwick had been planning to participate together in a Shared Perspectives Course in Jerusalem early next year. When it became clear that this would not be possible, they meet instead at Trinity House and Rabbi Nathan invited them to express solidarity with the Jewish community by attending Sabbath worship. Very happily, they were joined by Bishop Christopher, who is a near neighbour of the synagogue.
That theme of conversation was also much in evidence in the most recent meeting of the ‘Old Kent Road and neighbours’ interfaith group, each institution giving a short reflection on the subject, ‘What makes a good friend?’ It was a delight to welcome so many children and young people to this event, many of whom contributed to the discussion (including Solomon, aged 3, who simply told us to ‘Just be kind’). The Revd Helen Harknett invited St Christopher’s, Walworth, St Peter’s, Walworth, the Old Kent Road Mosque, and some Roman Catholic friends to St Philip’s Avondale Square to share a joyful supper. We were also delighted to greet Pastor Franklin from the Family Life Christian Centre; a new and very welcome member of this group.
If you would like to get know more about how to get in involved in Inter Faith work, our diocesan website has some resources and more are to come. You can also email David Woods ([email protected]) who supports this work to ask for his advice and support – or reach out to one of the members of the Inter Faith Network (Bishop Martin, Revd Alan Bayes, Revd Susan Bolen, Revd Andy Dovey, Canon Mia Hilborn, Revd Stefan Matthias, Revd Sharon Moughtin, Canon Michael Rawson, and Archdeacon Jonathan Sedgwick) – or better still come and join us!