Baháʼís across the UK celebrated InterFaith Week with a variety of different online activities this year.
Despite the national lockdown, members of the Baháʼí community attended and organised interfaith activities for InterFaith Week, which took place from the 8th to 15th November. As always, the focus provided by this period provided an opportunity to strengthen harmonious relations between different faith and belief communities.
Baháʼís were invited to contribute to local Interfaith Forum events as panelists or speakers on topics such as mental health, race and religion, a way of looking at the world that embraces all, hope and resilience and many more.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the inspiring gatherings that happened from all around the UK:
Northern Soul’s ‘Kindle the Spirit’ Interfaith Programe
With over 54 friends attending, the ‘Northern Souls’ initiative by the Baháʼís in Northern England dedicated their ‘Kindle the Spirit’ prayer meeting to Inter Faith Week. Many friends from different local interfaith groups came together for the meditative programme.
One local attendee from Cumbria said “seeing the uplifting sacred writings overlaid on images of local, recognisable places made it personal and relevant. The music and singing, sometimes in different languages, was so delightful and the contributions from different religions highlighted that wonderful thread of unity and truth in all of them.”
The friends followed up this unifying gathering with an ‘Elevated Conversations’ zoom gathering to explore more on the unity of religions with friends from all backgrounds.
Stockport, Greater Manchester Interfaith Gathering:
Another gathering was held locally during the week in Stockport, with 14 friends gathering to participate in the programme. Following on from this, the friends reflected on the role of religion with environmental issues.
An attendee shared: “it was an important consultation to have. We consulted on the role of religion and the responsibility of Faith groups for raising awareness with their groups to be conscious of how we are using resources, and how to be kind to each other and the environment. In every space we are striving to think of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We watched a film in which a youth talks about climate change too.”
Dundee, Scotland Student Interfaith: Community in Crises
University students gathered together in Dundee for the special interfaith event “Community in Crises: Connecting during the Pandemic”. Local think tank blog ‘TruThink’ collaborated with Interfaith Scotland to gather young participants to explore together how the pandemic has affected religious communities.
A Baháʼí student and panelist shared how the Baháʼís of Dundee reacted to the pandemic and how activities were quickly moved online. They also shared the power of national initiatives, such as Elevate World, which provided resources for those who wanted to host discussion spaces or prayer meetings in response to the uncertainty and instability surrounding coronavirus.
Other speakers included those from agnostic, Muslim and Christian backgrounds.
Norwich Interfaith Group “The Power Within”
Inspired by the Hindu Navrat Festival, Baháʼís in Norwich shared a presentation on the theme of “The Power Within”during Interfaith Week. The presentation included sharing a video on the light of unity and a selection of quotations and prayers.
In the build up to Interfaith Week, Baháʼís in the neighbouring county of Suffolk, engaged in an interfaith discussion on the impact of Covid-19, hosted by a local care home.
London Interfaith Events
The Shadow Minister for Faith and representatives from Tower Hamlets’ Council were among those who came together to the ‘Testing Times’ event held for InterFaith Week in this borough of London. Together, communities came together to reflect on the importance of building unity during challenging times for religious communities.
Surrey Interfaith gatherings
In Woking, a member of the Baháʼí community was invited as a panel speaker for a discussion on “What are religions doing about race inequality?”
She shared the following reflection after participating, “I love taking opportunities to represent the Faith in InterFaith meetings because it really is an important part that we play as Baháʼís. We understand how the religions all fit together, and this perspective is so badly needed.”
Every year, the Baháʼí community appreciates the sense of community and mutual support fostered by InterFaith week and it is a pleasure to be present in so many spaces both at a national and local level.