The purpose of the forums was to explore others’ faith, so as to increase and improve the Church and wider community’s understanding of the religious beliefs, symbols, structures and practices of different groups in our community.
Four Abrahamic faiths − Jewish, Catholic Eastern Rites, Muslim and Evangelical Christians − were invited to take part in a forum. The invitation was accepted by Ruth Jacobs from the Jewish faith, Fr Paul Berezniuk from the Catholic Eastern Rite Ukraine Church, Forugh Dorani from the Islamic Centre Mayfield Mosque and Captain Stephen Oliver from the Salvation Army.
A forum was held each term in the evening and a representative of one of the faiths was asked to present aspects of beliefs, symbols, structures, membership and practices (rituals). An outcome of each forum was that those who attended were invited to join adherents of the presenting faith at their usual worship service during that week.
The forums provided an opportunity to learn what we had in common, and to understand the church as founded in the Gospel. After each presentation and attendance at another faith’s place of worship, we realised that what we had in common was greater than what divided us. We also learned more about what we understood − or misunderstood − about each other.
Many friendships have been formed and joint services and celebrations have been held during the year, again offering opportunities to come together.
Hopefully 2018 will offer further opportunities for developing knowledge and understanding among different faiths in our region.