Living well together
Methodist Central Hall Westminster
This is Interfaith Week and this was the main event for the Inter Faith Network UK. As interfaith officer for the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK Acharya Modgala attended this alongside Venerable Seelawimila from the Chiswick Vihara and Desmond Biddulph from the Buddhist Society representing Buddhism in the discussions.
The first short introductory talk was from Lord Sacks the Chief Rabbi who emphasised that though it was wonderful we faith leaders meet well, we need to go beyond this and help our parishioners to meet. The Archbishop of Canterbury, pointed out the dangers of isolation and the need for belonging, that our faiths and families etc. give us our identities. But we need to have an obligation to more than our little groups and that the healthy state is a community of communities. He also spoke of being wary of church/state rivalry. The secretary of state – Eric Pickles spoke about how the faithsdo good work in the community especially after the riots and that funding from the state via the churches urban fund helps this to be done.
Unfortunately he did not stay long and I was unable to put the question about the importance of RE in schools directly to him. However it was good to see that leaders of other faiths in their inputs to the discussion could also could see the importance of RE in encouraging more discussion of faiths in schools. Especially for the many who do not eschew a faith or are just nominally involved in faith groups, or those who are marginalised. Bridges need to be built.
There was a wide range of input into the theme, the problems of greed and lack of understanding were mentioned. Social action together at grassroots was seen by many as a way to bring people together; also an inclusive sense of Britishness was proposed. Some spoke of appreciating difference, while others spoke of the challenge to disagree. There was a call for us to celebrate our faiths and get positive stories into the media and for all of us to go further in our service to humanity.
The archbishop’s final words spoke of humanity and human flourishing and the opportunity to celebrate the Queens diamond Jubilee offer. Lord Sacks spoke of healing the secular divide with love and friendship, grass roots action, finding a visible and inclusive national identity, treating all faiths equally and getting good news into the media.
Namo Amida Bu
Acharya Modgala Duguid