The UK’s first National Inter Faith Week was held this year from 15 to 21 November. Its stated aims were:
- to strengthen good interfaith relations at all levels;
- to increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society; and
- to increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious belief.
The Week was facilitated by The Inter Faith Network for the UK (IFN-UK) and the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in consultation with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, among other agencies.
Its official launch was held on Monday 16 November at Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams – head of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Communion.
Nitin Palan, BAPS UK’s interfaith representative and an Executive Director of IFN-UK attended the launch. There he joined the Archbishop, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Dr Manazir Ahsan (Muslim Council of Britain), Dr Inderjit Singh (Network of Sikh Organisations), and other faith community representatives in pledging to continue to build good inter-religious relations and to contribute to the common good of society from each of their different religious perspectives.
The text of the pledged statement read:
We believe that good interfaith relations are a vital part of a harmonious, just and respectful society.
We pledge, today, to deepen our work to increase understanding about and between our faiths and to strengthen our cooperation on social issues.
We renew our commitment to developing effective and long term ways of dialogue and mutual learning. We shall continue to seek to understand the patterns of engagement of our faith communities – through history and today; to affirm the positive aspects of these patterns; and to heal wounds of misunderstanding where these are found.
While our great religious traditions are distinct in belief and practice, there is much that unites us. We will draw on fundamental values held in common and on the wisdom of our respective faith traditions to continue to work – as individual communities and together – for the wellbeing of our society, our wider global community and the planet that is our home.
Alongside all of good will, we will work to tackle with renewed determination the challenges of poverty, ignorance, injustice, crime and violence, and social fragmentation and to help shape a society where all feel at home; all are valued and justly treated; and all have a chance to thrive.
A full report of the launch can be found on the Archbishop’s official website here, with photos of the event on Lambeth Palace’s photostream here.
To learn more about Inter Faith Week, please visit the event site here.
To learn more about The Inter Faith Network for the UK, please click here.
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