Churches Together in England prepare for Inter Faith Week

Dr Crabtree (middle left)  with speakers and organisers

Dr Crabtree (middle left) with speakers and organisers

Manchester was the venue last Saturday for a gathering of Christians involved in inter faith relations, as well as some exploring this aspect of faith for the first time.

Inter Faith Week will take place for the first time in England,  from 15-21 November. The week is not only an opportunity for activities highlighting the importance of good relations among people of different religions, but also a chance to explore why, as Christians, our faith pushes us to go outside our own circle and forge relationships of friendship and exchange with other believers.

Christians from as far afield as London and Plymouth travelled to attend the Seminar arranged by Churches Together in England exploring: Christian Approaches to Inter Faith Relations: Your Faith Matters!  

Bishop Terence Brain, of the Diocese of Salford, introduced the day with reflection and prayer. Keynote talks were given by Rt Revd John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley, on Principles underpinning Christian inter faith relationships; and by Dr Helen Reid, Director of Bradford Churches for Dialogue and Diversity who explored Mission and Dialogue: must they fight?

Both talks were illustrated by their own experiences and practical examples and led into  discussion groups.  Dr Harriet Crabtree, Director of the Inter Faith Network for the UK,said the seminar was a very important event and welcomed the exploration of theological depth underpinning Christian engagement in inter faith relations.

The audience heard from Nicola Minford, a young Christian from Belfast who is now a member of the Faiths Act Fellowship – part of the Tony Blair Faiths Foundation. Her background in Northern Ireland makes her passionate for all that can build peace and understanding among people of different traditions within and across religions.

Terry Murnane of the Burnley and Pendle Faith Centre illustrated the vital importance of  the Christian contribution to good inter faith relations locally. The public policy aspects of faith communities working together were highlighted by Mgr John Devine, the Churches Regional Officer for the North West. His role involves liaising on behalf of the Churches with Government on public policy issues relating to faith communities. The talks from the Seminar will be on the CTE website in due course.

Feedback from the day was very positive.  At the end of the day everyone was invited to be a catalyst in their own congregations to encourage more Christians to become involved in interfaith activities.

The event was organised by Celia Blackden,  Churches Together in England Inter Faith Officer and Revd Steven Hughes, Churches Interfaith Development Officer for Lancashire with support from Greater Manchester Churches Together, and the denominations associated with it, in particular the Church of England Diocese of Manchester and the RC Diocese of Salford.

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