Thursday, 16 May, 2024

Article: Interfaith Week

November 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Misc.

The Revd. Dr Michael Jagessar, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, and the denomination’s secretary for intercultural ministry, reflects on the gift of time God gives us during the autumn months

From Sunday November 18 to Tuesday November 27 we’ll be marking an extended Interfaith Week. It is hoped that such a focus will not only raise awareness and highlight some significant collaborative work across all faiths in local communities across the UK; but that it will strengthen already good inter-faith relationships and underscore the role of faiths in working with all towards a just, participatory and flourishing society for all. The United Reformed Church, along with ecumenical organisations (including ACTS, CTE and CYTUN) has been actively involved in interfaith engagement at various levels of our church life.

A closer look at the Interfaith Calendar (2012) reveals a large number of feasts and festivals including Sukkot, Navarati, World Communion Sunday, Ramadan, Deepavali/Diwali, Hanukah, Guru Nanak birthday, Advent and Christmas – and this suggests to me that, from October to December, God has gifted our religious traditions with a gift of time. This gift is not to be wasted. While we have distinctive beliefs and practices, we are all blessed with an opportunity to experience the “holy”, and bring healing and reconciliation in, and for, the world.

How do we describe an encounter of befriending another in which differences that normally alienate are transcended? Or where one person commits to seriously engage with another person’s deeply held beliefs or sacred text as seriously as she takes her own? And what about when a community is working through a crisis or heartbreak and all residents of whatever ethnic or faith backgrounds come together to overcome the challenge? Can such encounters be less than holy?

“God,” wrote the Japanese Christian theologian Kosuke Koyama, “does not speak only one language”. Interfaith Week invites us to be mindful of this, as we “launch out into the deep”, to participate in a journey of crossing and re-crossing spiritual boundaries, and to get to places we are initially uncomfortable with and often cannot fully figure out. Yet, through commitment to our own faith tradition and openness to the movement of God’s Spirit we strive to live out God’s offer of fullness of life for all in Christ. The blessings and sustaining presence of our extravagant God is more than enough for such “walking the talk” of our faith.

 The Revd. Dr. Michael Jagessar



This article is taken from the URC Church website, it was published right at the beginning of Inter-faith week.  I would like to share some of my reflections in connection with inter-faith work, which is rarely mentioned in the local Methodist Church, but is very much apart of the work of the Methodist Church in the U.K.

I am involved in a local inter-faith group which was formed in May 2011 and we are based at the Llanover Christian Retreat Centre.  The group meets twice a year and most faiths are represented. This year we had a special invitation to attend the Buddhist Centre in Brynmawr.   What lessons have I learned?  Many Christians are challenged and even horrified when you mention the word inter-faith, however, there is no compromise you are meeting to share with one another  and hopefully to take something of Gods love and the presence of the living Lord Jesus Christ who abides and lives in us into each meeting.  Even Jesus went to meet with the stranger, the alien and the foreigner.  The Wise-men who came to visit the baby Jesus were foreigners.

We have learned so much from each other and we have shared together e.g. to mark this years inter-faith week there was a day at Community House in Newport, where we shared a bring and share lunch and then shared one aspect of our faith.  Community House is based in Newport and belongs to the Presbyterian Church, its adapted to its multi-cultural/multi-faith community.  The Presbyterian Church recognised over forty years ago that its church needed to adapt to meet the needs of a changing community.

The most important lesson I have learnt that God indeed is a God of many languages and there are many ways of meeting with God, often in the most unexpected places.  During my recent illness prayers were said for me at the Buddhist Centre in Brynmawr, I was extremely moved by this.

 Glenys Jones,  Abergavenny section


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