Visit to Heston Coptic Orthodox Church

Hounslow Friends of Faith were invited to visit St Mary and Pope Kyrillos VI Coptic Orthodox Church Heston on Monday 3rd February and join committee members of the International Association of Religious Freedom, following their regular meeting, for lunch and a presentation by Father Morkos Fakhry Gamil giving the history of the Coptic Church. A number from HFOF and MP Ruth Cadbury accepted the invitation and enjoyed their visit.

After lunch Mrs Charanjit AjitSingh, as a committee member of each organisation, gave a brief introduction about the International Association of Religious Freedom and HFOF.

Then Father Morkos gave a comprehensive history about the Orthodox Coptic Church. Here are some of the facts he shared. The Christian message was first brought to Egypt by St Mark who is known as the first Pope of Alexandria. During the time of the Roman Empire Christians suffered persecution particularly under Emperor Diocletian. Important theologians from the Coptic Church include: Origen, Athanasius and Cyril the Great. The monastic way of life also started in Egypt with St Anthony, St Pacomius and St Shenauda. The Great Schism between the Oriental Orthodox Church and the Western Church occurred in 451 AD following the Council of Chalcedon when there was a difference of opinion about the language used to describe the nature of Jesus.

The Coptic Church survived the rise of Islam in Egypt in the seventh century. Public Christian teaching was not allowed but songs about faith were introduced.

Through the years the Coptic Church introduced schools for both boys and girls and had an early ability to print books. During the first half of the 20th century the church was very influential and there was a Coptic Prime Minister in 1908 but he was assassinated after only a year in office. Then during the time Nasser was Prime Minister there were economic changes and tensions and many Christians and Jews left the country. At the present time there are good relations between Prime Minister Sisi and Pope Tawadros II. Copts make up 15 – 20% of the population of Egypt.  

The St Mary and Pope Kyrillos VI Coptic Orthodox Church in Heston was started six years ago and now serves the local community through providing worship services, support for homeless in Hounslow and music and other education sessions.

Father Morkos was thanked for his most interesting presentation and he and the management were thanked for their generous hospitality. Those who wished were given a tour of the church and shown the icons of the saints and the colourful windows depicting three miracles of Jesus raising the dead to life. An open invitation was given to attend worship – see the church’s web site for details of times. It is not recommended that visitors attend on a Sunday as the church is always very full on that day for the three hour service.

Holocaust Day Event

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Event was hosted by St Mark’s Secondary School, Hounslow on Monday 27th January. The event was led by the Area Dean Reverend Richard Frank and attended by the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the Leader of Hounslow Council and other members of the Council, local MP Ruth Cadbury, representatives from Hounslow Friends of Faith, the local community and pupils from the school. The theme was Stand Together.

The Guest Speaker was Natalie Cumming who gave an enthralling talk based around her book ‘The Fiddle’, a true story about her family and how a violin helped her family to flee from Bolshevik Russia in the 20th century and her aunt to later survive in Auschwitz and Belsen Nazi concentration camps. Members of the school orchestra played the Nimrod theme and  the school drama department performed a dramatised reading of the poem Tormented Hearts by Misba Sheikh.

AGM 2019

The well attended AGM was held on 24th July in the splendid environment of the top floor of Hounslow House, the new Civic Centre. The keynote speaker was Maqsood Ahmed OBE, Director of UK Projects for the charity Muslim Hands. His theme was The Importance of Interfaith Dialogue in Contemporary Societies. He expressed the view that  dialogue is about building bridges through ta’rafu – which means knowing each other. His vision is to work for the good of humanity not retaliating to hostility or negative views. He described the Muslim Hands Project in Hounslow called Open Kitchen. This restaurant on the Great West Road is open daily with nourishing free meals for those in need.

Walk of Peace and Friendship 2019

Outside the World Zoroastrian Centre, Feltham

This year’s HFOF Walk of Peace and Friendship was held on Saturday 22nd June with more than forty walkers taking part. The walk visited the World Zoroastrian Centre in Hanworth Road Feltham, the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak in Martindale Road Hounslow, the Islamic Integration Community Centre, Staines Road Hounslow and St Mary’s Church in Bedfont. The Mayor of Hounslow Cllr Tony Louki attended and as always the walkers were given a warm welcome at every venue. 

Farewell to Bessie

Farewell to Bessie White

HFOF Women’s Group Outing

Empire of the Sikhs

I am pleased to circulate the Group’s outing details to see an exquisite exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG. Admission is free. Nearest Tube Station Russell Square (Piccadilly Line) on Saturday 11th August. We will meet at Osterley Tube Station at 10.00am or you can join us at the venue at 11.00am. A guided tour has been arranged so please wait for the group.

 

Empire of the Sikhs Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smiles and Friendship in Feltham

There were smiles and welcome at every venue for the 2018 Walk of Peace and Friendship on 24th June.  Our annual event took in four places of worship in the Feltham area with, in the words of local MP Seema Malhotra, once again the message of the value of walking in each other’s footsteps and through each other’s doors.  Mayor of Hounslow Councillor Samia Chaudhary also attended and welcomed the work of Hounslow Friends of Faith.

The Walk began at the Athula Dassana Buddhist Centre in Hanworth where monk Bhikkhu Assaji explained Buddhist philosophy and practice before the community members provided lunch.  After crossing Hanworth Park the second visit was to the Riverside Vineyard Church in Browells Lane where Senior Pastor Andy Chapman explained the work of the church in meeting the needs of the area.  He described their newly completed community centre and the Storehouse Project which provides food and equipment to families in difficulties.

There was a warm welcome at HIRA (the Hounslow Islamic Relief Association).  Imam Sheikh Mohammed Sayed gave a short talk on Ramadan before a tour of the centre. He joined us for the final visit to St Lawrence’s Catholic Church on The Green. Deacon Colin Macken responded to a range of questions about the church.  The wealth of the church he said is its people.

Thank you to everyone for an excellent day.  And the sun shone!

Faiths celebrate their Commonwealth Heritage

A ‘Big Lunch’ to celebrate the Commonwealth heritage of many residents of the borough is being held on 19th April.  Hounslow Jamia Masjid in Wellington Road South is taking the initiative to mark the meeting of the Heads of Government of Commonwealth countries taking place in London in April 2018.  Events have already taken place and Hounslow Friends of Faith was represented at a reception to mark the occasion which took place at Buckingham Palace in February. Members also attended a reception in March at Hounslow Civic Centre at the invitation of the Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Sue Sampson.

General Secretary of the mosque Shafiq Rehman sees the lunch as a great community event, once again celebrating the diversity of Hounslow borough.  He hopes to have people present at the lunch from as many of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth as possible, many of whom will be of different faiths.  Get in touch with Hounslow Friends of Faith if you would like to attend or know someone else who would like an invitation.

Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

Hounslow Friends of Faith members joined students and other guests at the Green School for Girls to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 29th January.  In the presence of the Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Sue Sampson and other civic officials, Michael Brown shared the story of his life in Germany before the Second World War, his escape to the UK on the second last Kindertransport in August 1939 and his time with foster parents in Liverpool.

The theme for 2018 was the Power of Words and Michael described how words can be used to denigrate and discriminate against groups of people with horrific consequences.

Rev Richard Frank, Anglican Area Dean, suggested that by being at this event, those present were able to show through their living and their speaking their determination that such an event as the Holocaust could never happen again.

Leader of Hounslow Council, Steve Curran, referred to the diversity of the borough. He asked students whose families were newer residents to find out what their relatives had felt like when they first arrived.  Anti-semitism and hate crime are only just below the surface and there have been more recent genocides such as Muslims at Srebrenica in Bosnia. Always challenge any inappropriate remark, he stated.

Councillor Curran mentioned that Hounslow Council have taken some unaccompanied refugee children from Calais and families from Syria.  These latter are being supported by members of the community. (Note: this is through Refugees Welcome Hounslow, a group sponsored by Hounslow Friends of Faith.  Get in touch if you would like to know more.)

There was moving display of art work by sixth form students on the topic in the school hall. Photos of some of these and of the event are in our Gallery. Photo credits Bessie White and LB Hounslow.

Inter Faith Week in Hounslow 2017

 Inter Faith Week is marked across the UK in mid November each year with a wide range of activities, all designed to bring people of different faiths together and show the positive contribution faiths can make to society. Two great events took place locally.

The HFOF Women’s Group had fun at the Bring and Share, East meets West food evening. Samosa chaat with tamarind sauce, mince pies, patra – chickpeas and colocasia (eddoes), Polish salad, coconut macaroons and the vicar of Feltham’s upside down pineapple cake. Thanks to Satish Dutt for some laughter yoga to get us in the mood and to Divya for a quiz afterwards. And thank you to all the cooks.  A great evening.

Later in the week there were two stimulating performances of The Bundle, a play by Journeymen Theatre about an asylum seeker’s journey.  It highlighted some of the issues involved for those of us who have little experience of what it’s like to feel driven from an intolerable situation to seek a safer life. Journeymen Theatre Company members are active in projects for asylum seekers in the West Midlands, including a scheme to pay transport costs, and MacKenzie Friends, who offer non-professional support and advice to asylum seekers as they present their cases to tribunals.

Donations at the performances were shared between the projects above and Refugees Welcome Hounslow.  This group, which was launched following an initiative of Hounslow Friends of Faith is just celebrating the arrival of the second household from Syria under the Government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, with a third following very soon.  Hounslow Council are accepting up to 10 families, just as soon as private properties can be found.  Do get in touch if you can help.

For more information about other events which took place round the country during Inter Faith Week see https://www.interfaithweek.org