Celebrating Faith 2016
November 15, 2016
Celebrating Faith 2016 was held during Interfaith week on the 15th November at St Peters Church, Brighton. Here are a few highlights, as recalled by BHFA project coordinator Lev Eakins.
The communal meal was provided by The Real Junk Food Project. The photo below isn’t a particularly good one from an artistic point of view, but it is what it represents which really pleased me – people of different faiths and none enjoying lunch and one another’s company.
After lunch, our Jewish and Muslim friends went to pray at One Church Brighton. It was especially pleasing that members of the Jewish and Muslim community were welcome to spend time praying in a Church – an awesome and appropriate interfaith moment.
The third highlight was the peaceful and positive atmosphere that we enjoyed, where people of all walks of life were genuinely interested in the work of others, networking throughout the stall holders. There didn’t seem to be any friction or problems at all.
Finally, the closing part of the day with the interfaith choir was very moving. Everybody stopped and listened to the choir in perfect silence and gave a round of applause to every song. I spent a few moments observing others enjoying the choir and it seemed like we were all captivated.
One of the reasons I love this city so much are times like this. It’s so easy to look at the world around us, especially in recent months and years, and see so much hate and division. Wars fought under religious banners, ugly prejudice and discrimination on our streets and dare I say, politicians exploiting those prejudices and fears to win elections.
Whilst no city can claim to be free from all fear and discrimination, I believe Brighton and Hove makes a strong case for being the most open minded, open hearted and liberal city, where the modus operandi and zeitgeist of our community is to embrace and celebrate our differences, rather than to fear and attack them. Yesterday was an excellent example of that celebratory approach to our differences being on display.
In no particular order, I would like to express my warm gratitude to the following organisations and people who not only made the event possible, but made it so special:
The stall holders – for engaging and participating with such enthusiasm. There were so many colourful, interactive and informative stalls attended by volunteers who made the event most engaging. I was particularly impressed with the energy and enthusiasm from the Mother’s Union who I had not met before, but I’m glad I did as they are a powerful force of nature!
Faith Partnership – we were able to coordinate and organise successfully thanks to the Faith Partnership led by Community Works. If it wasn’t for such widespread engagement across the faiths at the partnership level, we would not have had so many different faith groups in attendance.
St Peters and One Church – We are very grateful for the generosity of St Peters for allowing us to use their beautiful venue without charge. Also, many thanks for One Church who provided a quiet prayer space nearby.
Interfaith Choir and Mayor of Brighton and Hove –As mentioned above, the choir was superb, and I was very impressed that the Mayor not only formally opened our event and read the moving poem but then took the time to visit each of the stall holders and talk with them about their projects.
The Real Junk Food Project Brighton – the RJFP provided a HUGE (and delicious) vegan curry and selection of sweet buns at very short notice and for free. Please do check out their website to find out more of the brilliant work these guys do across the city.
Community Works – who not only helped with providing volunteers and ran a stall, but also made a generous financial contribution to ensure the event could go ahead. If your third sector organisation or faith group is not a member of Community Works, I highly recommend joining as they offer a superb range of services and were instrumental in helping the BHFA to start, survive and thrive. We are extremely grateful for all their support over the years.
YMCA Downslink Group – A big thanks goes to YMCA DLG for generously covering the cost of all the trestle tables and for helping us organise the event through the Faith Partnership. They also offered their nearby office space if One Church was unavailable for prayers.