Learning from the leaders of the great religions

Presentation to John Parry and his wife cpd What can we learn from the leaders of the great religions, even if we are not of that faith?  Rev Dr John Parry, a United Reformed Minister who has studied Sikhism for over 30 years, shared his insights with a well attended multi-faith audience at the Gurdwara Sri Singh Sabha in Hounslow on 13th July.

Guru Gobind Singh was the 10th and last spiritual leader and the founder of the Khalsa, the Sikh community, in 1699.  He was a man of vision, commitment and organisational skills, but also of humility. Although he inspired sacrifice from Sikhs as they stood up for their faith against the Mughal emperor, he also saw humanity as one. He distinguished between the political form of a religion and faith itself for the individual.

John Parry discussed the value to a faith of scriptures, the understanding of the concept of God and the obligation of service to others. It was Guru Gobind Singh who installed the Sikh scriptures as the final guru, always available and central to the life of the community and the family.

He saw the concept of God as too great for the human mind to comprehend.  This inability to comprehend God fully has a parallel in Christian St Paul’s words ‘through a glass darkly’.  Humans should always be selfless and give service to others.

This talk presented something new and different, a real soul searching for those who are at the chalk face of interfaith activities, having to deal with histories of strife between faiths and yet finding a way forward together as one diverse humankind.

The photo shows John Parry and his wife receiving a thank you gift from Chair of HFOF Charanjit Ajit Singh.  Earlier John had presented a copy of his book ‘The Word of God is not Bound, the encounter of Sikhs and Christians in India and the UK’ to Mr Gurmeet Singh, President of the Gurdwara.

Hounslow Friends of Faith wins prize

Kingsley Academy jpeg cpdHounslow Friends of Faith were delighted to be chosen by a group of Year 8 students at Kingsley Academy as part of a First Give competition.  Students researched local charities and shared what they discovered in front of their year group.  A panel of judges marked them on the delivery and creativity of their presentations and their knowledge of their chosen charities.

Danish and his colleagues made a link between bullying and hate crime, vividly explaining how the scars of both remain long term. They made the case that Hounslow Friends of Faith brings people together and stands up against intimidation of anyone just for being who they are.

The presentation in July 2017 won the group a runner up prize and Hounslow Friends of Faith will receive £250.  Thank you Danish and friends!  We hope we can put the money towards work with young people to encourage understanding and reduce bullying.

First Give is a programme which works with secondary schools to help young people give their time, tenacity and talents to help their local communities through sparking a social conscience and developing team work and research and presentation skills.

Walk of Peace and Friendship 2017

Group photo at Hindu temple 2017Our annual Walk of Peace and Friendship took place this year on 1st July in Brentford and Chiswick. This enjoyable event was our regular opportunity to visit different places of worship, hear informal talks about faith and share with people from different communities in our richly diverse borough.

We met at 11am at the Hanuman Hindu Temple in Beech Avenue in Brentford.  This centre opened officially this year after extensive building and renovation work. Their particular interest is Hindu spirituality through yoga and music. We heard about the meaning of the beautiful carvings on the main doors and the shrines where the priest gave aarti, a Hindu prayer.

A short bus journey took us to Gunnersbury to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Harvard Road in Chiswick where we had a most delicious lunch. The church is the cathedral for the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), with communities on the territories of the UK and Ireland.  We learnt about the very beautiful icons in the upper and lower parts of the church building and the priest gave a blessing.

From there the Walk continued to Christ Church, Turnham Green in Town Hall Avenue,  a lively Anglican parish church.  We heard about the range of their activities using their building in the heart of community and the value they find in prayer.

The final venue was the London Buddhist Vihara in The Avenue. The Vihara has a resident community of monks from Sri Lanka and is a leading centre for Theravada Buddhism. Founded in 1926 by Anagarika Dharmapala, the Vihara was the first Buddhist monastery to be established outside the continent of Asia. It moved to Chiswick in 1964 and has been in its present building since 1994.  We heard about the value of the Buddhist way and heard uplifting Buddhist chanting.

Thank you to all the places of worship who took time to open their doors to us and to the enthusiastic walkers who took part on the day.

 

 

Recent Attacks in London and Manchester

Table at vigil 1 for useHounslow Friends of Faith issued two statements following the terrorist attacks in London and in Manchester.

Hounlsow Friends of Faith is shocked and greatly distressed that once again individuals have carried out a deplorable attack at London Bridge, so soon after the outrage in Manchester.  We know these feelings are shared by many groups in the borough and welcome the statements of condemnation which have already been issued.  We feel the pain of those caught up in the events and hold them in our thoughts and prayers.

We acknowledge once more the good relations between faiths which exist in Hounslow. We must not allow such attacks to weaken our resolve to stay as one Hounslow community.

Charanjit Ajit Singh            Chair                                  Bessie White

On behalf of HFOF Committee                                    Information Officer

5th June 2017

 

Statement following Manchester Arena attack

As faith leaders in Hounslow, we unite in our sadness and condemnation of the dreadful attack in Manchester which has affected families, young people and children.  Here we are grateful for the good relations that exist between the faith communities where we know each other as friends and colleagues and work together for the common good.  We must not allow this attack by an individual to damage this.  We hold all those affected in our thoughts and prayers.

Signed

Charanjit Ajit Singh     Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Rev Tom Gillum           Vice Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Divya Din                       Vice Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Shafiq Rehman             General Secretary Hounslow Jamia Mosque and on behalf of Hounslow Social

and Political Committee which represents the mosques and Islamic Centres in the borough of Hounslow

Rev Richard Frank      Church of England Hounslow Area Dean

23rd May 2017

We have already received several messages of support and requests specifically to be associated with this statement. These include from the Ahmadiyya Community and HIRA (Hounslow Islamic Relief Association) in Feltham.

The photo shows the statement on display at the vigil held at Hounlsow Jamia Masjid on 27th May attended by representatives of many faiths.

 

Fun and learning through Rangoli Patterns

Rangoli demonstration piece for website 2A great afternoon was held on 13th May and informative too learning about colourful rangoli patterns and trying them ourselves. They are very much a part of Hindu tradition and are used for decoration particularly during Diwali. We used coloured sand, although they can be made with rice grains, flour, sand or chalk. The patterns always balance.  We found they take practice! They are impermanent, as is life.

Rahki bracelets which sisters give brothers each year are much easier to make. Thanks to Bharti Tailor for showing us and to the Hanuman Hindu Temple in Brentford for hosting the event.

Coptic Pope visits Hounslow

It was a day of celebration in May for one local church community when the Coptic Pope Tawadros II consecrated their new church in Hounslow. His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, was in the UK for a weeklong pastoral visit during which he met the Queen and Prince Charles and was received at Lambeth Palace by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.  In Hounslow he was accompanied by Bishop Angaelos and a number of bishops from Egypt for the 8am service.

The Pope was warmly greeted by the congregation.  The male choir sang joyfully and the ladies in the congregation ululated enthusiastically at key moments in the service. The Pope and other clergy spread the holy oil on the altar in the sanctuary and each icon was anointed with a long roller. Ruth Cadbury, (parliamentary candidate and incumbent) and Charanjit Ajit Singh, Chair of the Interfaith Group made brief speeches of congratulations.

The church has already made a contribution to the local area and weekly provides food for homeless people.  It was the one of the venues for the HFOF Walk of Peace and Friendship in 2016.  We welcome Father Morkos and the Coptic congregation to the faith community in Hounslow and wish the church every success in their work.

 

Manchester Arena Attack

Table at vigil 1 for useHounslow Friends of Faith has issued the following statement after the shocking attack in Manchester last night, 22nd May 2017.

As faith leaders in Hounslow, we unite in our sadness and condemnation of the dreadful attack in Manchester which has affected families, young people and children.  Here we are grateful for the good relations that exist between the faith communities where we know each other as friends and colleagues and work together for the common good.  We must not allow this attack by an individual to damage this.  We hold all those affected in our thoughts and prayers.

Signed

Charanjit Ajit Singh     Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Rev Tom Gillum           Vice Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Divya Din                     Vice Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Shafiq Rehman             General Secretary Hounslow Jamia Mosque and on behalf of Hounslow Social and Political Committee which represents the mosques and Islamic Centres in the borough of Hounslow

Rev Richard Frank      Church of England Hounslow Area Dean”

 

We have already received several messages of support and requests specifically to be associated with this statement. These include from the Ahmadiyya Community and HIRA (Hounslow Islamic Relief Association) in Feltham.

 

Faiths Forum for London statement on Westminster attack

Hounslow Friends of Faith are distressed by the attack on 22nd March at Westminster, at the deaths and injuries caused and any damage to the good community relations in Hounslow.  We as people of faith reach out to our friends and colleagues of all faiths and none in the borough and beyond.

We endorse the statement issued by the Faiths Forum for London which can be read below.

We hold all our communities in our prayers.

“We, as representatives of many of London’s faith communities, deplore the terrible attack that has taken place today at Parliament and Westminster bridge.

All of our religions exalt the sanctity of human life. There is no justification for such a barbaric assault on innocent people.

Terrorism has no place on our streets.

We pray for the victims of this attack, and call for Londoners, and our nation to stand together at this time.

We will redouble our efforts to work for peace, compassion, understanding and hope.”

Signatories:

Father Gerard Mitchell SJ, Co-Chair, Faiths Forum for London
Jasvir Singh OBE, Co-Chair, Faiths Forum for London
Dr Deesha Chadha, Hindu Forum of Britain
Leonie Lewis, London Jewish Forum
Dr Natubhai Shah, MBE, The Jain Network
Yousif Al-Khoei OBE, Al-Khoei Foundation
Fred Ashmore, London Quakers
Jon Dal Din, Westminster Interfaith
Malcolm Deboo, Zoroastrian Trust Fund of Europe
Bhavesh Dharni, National Hindu Students’ Forum
Annabel Djalili, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís
Revd Margaret Cave, London Churches
Captain Nick Coke, Salvation Army @nicholascoke
The Ven Duncan Green, Diocese of London
Rajnish Kashyap, Hindu Council UK @HinduCouncilUK
Dilowar Hussain Khan, London Muslim Centre
Revd David Musgrave, London Methodist District
Revd Kumar Rajagopalan, London Baptists
Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala, London Buddhist Vihara
Koser Shaheen, Association of Muslim Lawyers
Talat Shaikh, Muslim Community & Education Centre
Rabbi Deborah Young-Somers, London Jewish Forum
Rt Revd Dr Donnett Thomas, Churches Together in South London
Revd Steven Saxby, London Churches @LondonChurches
Catriona Robertson, London Boroughs Faith Network @multifaith
The Ven Luke Miller, Faith Sector Panel @ArchdeaconLuke
Maurice Ostro OBE, Founding Patron, Faiths Forum for London
Don de Silva, Buddhist Chaplain
The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Deputy Bishop of London
The Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney
Mustafa Field, Director, Faiths Forum for London @LondonFaiths

Neighbours in Faith follow up meeting

A second meeting for faith groups responding to social need locally took place at Hounslow Civic Centre in November.  It was opened by the current Mayor of Hounslow Councillor Ajmer Grewel.  She shared her passion for the work which faith groups do.  She would very much like to visit projects and be kept informed.

Information was provided by Meena Patel of Southall Black Sisters on services for women subject to domestic violence; by Eamon Rooke from Volunteering Hounslow who can provide training, volunteers for projects and for trustee roles; and by Bahzad Brifkani on housing support for homeless people.  Tom Gillum gave background to a meeting the next day for anyone interested in hearing more about the current refugee crisis and what we here in Hounslow can do.

Below is a link to the report of the first meeting in April, followed by contact lists for services for needy people including out of hours were circulated.

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The final link below is to a short You-tube film London is Open, which was shown at the meeting.  It comprises clips of places of worship from a wide range of faiths in central London making clear that despite everything, faith groups are open and welcoming, not closed and fearful.  An inspiration for the work that we do!

https://youtu.be/bExx8ZzfAnw

Creating a flower of paradise

flower-cpd-web-smallOver 30 women of many faiths and backgrounds came together to create a flower in felt during 2016 Inter Faith Week.  Funded by Near Neighbours, the workshops were ably led by Hana Horack, an artist who works in a range of different media.  Women worked with merino wool mixed with silk to make the felt and form it into first a brooch or then a flower on a stem.

Responses were very positive.  It was great to learn something practical and enjoyable together in all our diversity’ said one participant. ‘Really enjoyable to mix and chat with other faiths’ said another. ‘Watching each other’s faces and expression added to the happiness of each one’s contentment in creating something unique, of their own. Such moments are precious in our memories and have no ending’ said a third.

The event took place at the Centre for Spiritual and Cultural Advancement in Feltham who generously provided lunch.  For several women it was the first time they had attended a HFOF event.

There was support for the idea of more events of this type in the future.

See another photo of the event in our Gallery.

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