Save the dates: Multi Faith Spaces Exhibition 9th-13th July

Do you ever visit a prayer room or quiet room?

Does your local hospital, commercial centre, police station, airport, university, college or prison have a multi faith space?

  • Who are the key individuals involved in the development and management of these spaces?
  • Do multi faith spaces encourage social cohesion, or do they simply house difference’?

LBFN is bringing Manchester University’s research Multi Faith Spaces – Symptoms and Agents of Religious and Social Change to London.

The display will be up from Monday 9th July to Friday 13th July at St Alphege Hall, Kings Bench St, SE1 0QZ (nearest tube Southwark).

The Principal Researcher, Dr Chris Hewson, will be talking about the research on Tuesday 10th July at lunchtime.  Revd Dr Howard Worsley of London South Bank University’s Multi Faith Chaplaincy will also be speaking.  Light refreshments will be served.

Opening times are still to be confirmed but they are likely to be 11am to 4pm each day.

Chaplains, those with pastoral or managerial responsibility for a multi faith space, designers, architects and those interested in what these spaces represent and the impact they have will find the exhibition of interest.

Discussions will take place each day at allotted times, with refreshments served.

Workshops on multi faith spaces in

  • the NHS
  • in universities
  • in colleges of further education
  • in the police and prison services
  • in commercial settings

are being planned.  If you are interested in taking part, let LBFN know so that we can fix times that are convenient for you – and if you would like to lead a workshop on another topic.

For further details, please get in touch.  In the meantime, here is the project’s latest newsletter.

Twenty Twelve – multifaith episode

BBC2’s Twenty Twelve – Fridays at 10pm

For any Londoners involved in London 2012 (and who isn’t going to be affected in some way or other?), BBC2’s comedy series Twenty Twelve (Fridays 10pm) has gradually become a parallel and (we hope) absurd tale of how the team organising the Games is getting on.

Tonight’s episode (catch it here) continues the story of the “Shared Belief Centre” in the Olympic Village.  Spot the deliberate mistake(s) and enjoy some achingly familiar scenes.  The preview clip shows two of the team trying to prevent someone from “Muslim Focus UK” from seeing a visitor to the 2012 site who is wearing a clerical collar.  Solution: the vicar “could so take that thing off – he’s way cool about that stuff.”

Those with an interest in shared belief centres – and there are plenty in London – will be interested to read the findings of a Religion and Society study on multifaith spaces, presented at the University of Manchester last week – are they ‘housing difference’ or places of encounter?  A paper from the study is also worth a read.

Since life imitates art, the Revd Duncan Green, a regular visitor over the years to LBFN meetings and London 2012’s Head of Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Services (the real-life one), has this week moved into the Multi Faith Centre in the Athletes’ Village.  Here is a BBC report about his work and you can read Duncan’s blog here.

Multi-faith spaces

What’s your experience of quiet rooms, prayer rooms, multi-faith spaces? In hospitals, prisons, council offices, police headquarters?

What is the impact of these spaces?  There are plenty of them in London, many of them in the public sector.

Have you been part of a planning team?  Is there one where you work?  Do you make use of these spaces?

LBFN has invited Andrew Crompton, part of a research team from the University of Manchester, to tell us about the findings so far.  Andrew says,

” Most multi-faith spaces are windowless rooms with a suspended ceiling and cheap furniture (which looks like it’s come from IKEA) and home-made decorations – they’re kind of homely.

In fact they’re sort of vernacular expressions of spirituality.”

Andrew and his colleagues are investigating multi-faith spaces

  • as symptoms of specific societal trends and political ambitions
  • as works of architecture, shaped through the actions of architects, designers, engineers, artists, users, etc
  • as agents that encourage, shape or facilitate particular activities
  • as historical entities, that have developed and consolidated over time.

LBFN will pass on your comments to the team – or why not come along to our next meeting on the morning of Wednesday 14th September in Victoria (details from the Convener)?

Multi-faith spaces

Are there any multi-faith spaces (quiet rooms, prayer rooms) in your part of London?  Airports, hospitals, offices, prisons, colleges, workplace facilities?

They used to be windowless, cramped, drab and hard to find, but things have improved – St Ethelburga’s Tent, for a start.

Dr Chris Hewson (University of Manchester) wants people to contact him.  He’s doing some research on the significance of these spaces – digging deeper than just Equality & Diversity box-ticking, looking at motivation, syncretism, etc.

. . . many observers perceive MFS as tangible manifestations of
tolerance and pluralism, arguing that they represent an appropriate
course of collective action within a socio-religious landscape
characterised by (potentially dangerous) undercurrents of
fragmentation. However, issues also arise as to whether these spaces
are being created just to attract ‘customers’ – for example, to an
airport, shopping centre or university – or are used merely to promote
narrow social and/or political agendas.

Chris wants to

Tent at St Ethelburga’s (photo by Douglas Fry)

  1. Locate a wide range of multi-faith spaces to visit and survey.
  2. Speak with individuals who are (or have been) involved in their design and management.
  3. Locate and evaluate key documents and materials.

If you think you could help, email him on mfs@manchester.ac.uk.  Check the project’s webpage for more info.