Endorsing Statement by Inter Faith Network UK

Part of a Statement by the Faith Communities Forum of the Inter Faith Network for the UK ~ an organisation to which Hounslow Friends of Faith is affiliated:

Our United Kingdom and its individual nations are home to people of many different faiths and beliefs.

As faith communities, each with our own traditions and beliefs, we affirm strongly the value of harmonious coexistence, of values that are shared and of cooperation for the common good.

We are particularly concerned at this time about prevalence of divisive rhetoric, hate speech and rising hate crime. There are those who are actively seeking to drive a wedge between communities, to divide and to foment prejudice and hatred. 

We stand together in the face of such destructive actions and in support of those affected. We encourage all to join us in working for greater understanding, for cooperation and positive coexistence and, in the words of IFN’s vision, “a society where there is understanding of the diversity and richness of the faith communities in the UK and the contribution that they make; and where we live and work together with mutual respect and shared commitment to the common good.”

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.

Interfaith Week Meeting

Hounslow Friends of Faith arranged a most thought provoking evening at the Baitul Wahid Ahmadiyya Mosque, discussing:

“Life after Death?” with speakers from the:

– Humanists UK

– Christian Coptic Orthodox church

– Brahma Kumaris

– Ahmadiyya Community

This was part of National Interfaith Week 2019 which took place from 10th – 17th November this year.

The Three Aims of Interfaith Week are:

  • Strengthening good inter faith relations at all levels
  • Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
  • Increasing understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs

HFOF Knitting Group


Soroptimist International of Kingston upon Thames and District closed earlier this year and used their remaining funds to donate to local charities. They made a donation of £50 to the Knitting Group for materials. This was presented at the November meeting. 

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

Annual Report 2017-18

HFOF Annual Report 2017 – 18

July 2018 Newsletter

HFOF Newsletter July 2018