Manchester Arena Attack

Hounslow 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.

 

Walk of Peace and Friendship

Plans are well ahead for our annual Walk of Peace and Friendship on Saturday 1st July which takes place this year in Brentford and Chiswick. This enjoyable event is 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 meet at 11am at the Hanuman Hindu Temple in Beech Avenue in Brentford TW8 8NQ.  This centre opened officially this year after extensive building and renovation work. Their particular interest is Hindu spirituality through yoga and music.

A short bus journey takes us to Gunnersbury and a visit at 1pm to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Harvard Road, Chiswick W4 4ED where we will have 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.

From there the Walk continues to Christ Church, Turnham Green, in Town Hall Avenue W4 5UJ at 2.45pm, a lively Anglican parish church.

The final venue is the London Buddhist Vihara in The Avenue in Chiswick W4 1UD at 4pm. 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.

The event is open to all and is free.  Voluntary donations are welcome towards the cost of the lunch.  If you need help with transport, please let us know on 07812 833635.  The number on the day is 07904 105422.

 

 

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.

 

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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Refugees – how can we help?

A packed meeting on 16th November heard of ways to respond to refugees from war and oppression. Tom Gillum, vicar of St John’s and St Mary’s Churches in Isleworth, described a recent visit to Amman in Jordan and the impact of conflict on people he met there who are now in effect stateless.  Some now have the chance to come to this country.  Can we give them hope and a place they can call home?

Information was shared by Hounslow Council, Migrants Organise, Refugee Support Network, voluntary groups and Citizens UK.

Hounslow Council have offered to take 10 Syrian families from camps in Jordan.  The local authority is making preparations to ensure services are in place for the families who are likely to arrive in the early part of next year.  Offers of self contained properties for a guaranteed two years are needed as a first priority.  Once here, the families will need befriending and support as they settle children into schools, clubs and their own faith community.  English classes will also be needed, either through a college or one of the many voluntary groups which are already providing this. Representatives of two voluntary groups described what they offer. It is very helpful to the Council to know that there is good community support as shown by this meeting.

The meeting also heard about support for unaccompanied minors, some of whom are with families and some with foster parents.  There is a need for destitution support when they turn 18 and are no longer eligible for public funds.

There is also need for befriending for detainees at the Heathrow Immigration and Removal Centre while they wait for final appeals before being returned to their home country.  Patrick Wright, Chaplain there, described the need for friendship and also toiletries and clothing.

Citizens UK is a campaigning, organising and action group which takes up issues around social justice such as refugees.  They have successfully encouraged Ealing and Hammersmith Councils to agree to take their share.  They are looking to set up a local chapter of the organisation in Hounslow to take up this and other issues. Get in touch to know more.

A follow up meeting to today’s event is planned. To be kept informed about how you can get involved contact refugeeswelcomehounslow@gmail.com.

 

Inter Faith Week 13 – 20 November 2016

Inter Faith Week takes place this year between 13 – 20th November.  There are a number of exciting events taking place across the borough.

Monday 14th The trustees of Gurdwara Guru Singh Sabha Hounslow TW3 3UA welcome visitors to share the celebrations for Guru Nanak’s Birthday between 11 and 1.

Tuesday 15th  Working Lunch for faith leaders. Follow Up to the Mayor of Hounslow’s Meeting of Faiths on social action. 12 – 2, Hounslow Civic Centre TW3 4DN.

Wednesday 16th  Hounslow’s Response to Refugee Realities. A meeting to hear about present needs and the possibilities for getting involved. Speakers from Hounslow Council, the Refugee Support Network, Citizens UK, Migrants Organise and the Heathrow Immigration and Removal Centre. St John’s Church Hall, Isleworth TW7 6NY.

Saturday 19th  Women’s Felting Workshop. 9.30 – 12.30 or 1.30 – 4.30. Centre for Spirituality and Cultural Advancement, Manor Lane Feltham TW13 4JQ. Funded by Near Neighbours.

Saturday 19th Faith and Cohesive Communities. Venerable Seelawimala warmly invites guests to attend the London Buddhist Vihara for an Interfaith event at 5pm at the London Buddhist Vihara, The Avenue, Chiswick W4 1UD.

The week aims to increase awareness of the different faith communities in the UK and celebrate the contribution their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society.  It also is an opportunity to increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs. For further details on any of these items, see under Events or contact us.

For other events happening nationally see https://www.interfaithweek.org

 

Concern for Refugees

Many faith groups and others in the borough are concerned about the plight of refugees and are doing what they can to respond.  Some have made collections for refugees in Calais. Others are considering sponsoring a refugee family from Syria or may be supporting people already here.

HFOF Vice Chair Tom Gillum, vicar of St John’s and St Mary’s Church in Isleworth is organising a meeting to consider together the extent of work already being done, to see what more might be possible and what volunteer or other opportunities there are.  This will take place in the Hall at St John’s Church, St John’s Road, Isleworth TW7 6NY on Wednesday 16th November at 7.30pm. Please get the word out and let Tom know if you are interested in coming along on 07825 041432 Tom.gillum@london.anglican.org

Singing peace with a smile

Women's Interfaith tea party 1Over 30 women shared hymns, songs and chants from their faith traditions at a gathering in Feltham on 6th August.  Interesting connections in practice were found.  Many songs offered praise to God, and gave a vision of the oneness of the divine. Singing can bring detachment from the burdens of everyday life and a focus on the truth of one’s faith. While quiet times at home are valuable, singing together in community in church or temple can touch the heart.

Words and music provide a form of spiritual practice in very many faiths either in addition to the main observance or as an essential part of it.  For example for Methodists, one of the Christian churches, singing is an essential part of worship, though the founder, John Wesley, warned members not to raise their voices louder than anyone else and for all to ‘attend to the words’.  In the latest Methodist hymn book, Singing the Faith, words in some traditional hymns were changed to be more inclusive for modern times.  The example offered from the Church of England hymnbook used wording reflecting the Jewish root of the faith.

The Sikh chant spoke of God as One.  ‘There is one spring, the name is God.  Love is God and God is love’ was the inspiration of the Hindu example. Muslim and Jewish contributions demonstrated how singing praises God. Say salaam, peace, with a smile!

Even when music does not play a part in worship, such as in a Quaker Meeting, it can inspire action, such as the Negro spiritual ‘Gonna study war no more’!

Hosted by the Centre for Spirituality and Cultural Advancement, the session ended with generous refreshments when tea and conversation flowed.  It is hoped the event can be repeated.

Hounslow Friends of Faith run a regular women’s group, meeting usually monthly.  Get in touch if you’d like to come along.