Harvest Festival: Opening the Doors to the Wider Community

Many thanks to Helen Fitton, National Project Manager of A Year Of Service, for sending in this guest post for LBFN members.

Helen is happy to hear from local churches, faith forums and others who would like to get involved.  If you’re in south London, Siriol Davies is supporting local AYOS activities and will put you in touch with other participants.

Every year, Harvest festival brings communities together.  Traditionally a way of celebrating and giving thanks for our food, Harvest is a time of sharing and giving. 

This year, churches across the nation are not only celebrating Harvest festival in their own communities, but are reaching out to those of all faiths, as part of the A Year of Service initiative.  Throughout this year, there are 12 ‘Days of Volunteering’, each coinciding with a religious festival or existing volunteering day, and each focusing on a particular type of social action (e.g. visiting the elderly).  Each faith community, in turn, is promoting its own day or days in neighbourhoods and businesses, and inviting people from other faiths or without religious beliefs to work together.The month of August was devoted to Ramadan, where Muslim communities up and down the country held multi-faith events, including the Afghan Olympic team sharing an iftar meal with the local community in Palmers Green Mosque and an interfaith workshop for all hosted by Southampton Medina Mosque.

Harvest festival promises to see communities come together for a wide variety of inspiring events revolving around the social action theme of ‘feeding the hungry’, welcoming those of other faiths into their communities, just as Ramadan did, and all the other Days of Volunteering so far. 

If your Church is collecting food for Harvest, why not invite neighbours of different faiths to join in?  Find out more here or contact A Year of Service, either to know more about hosting or to find out where events are taking place in your local area.

AYOS is sponsored by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Faith and the Environment – this Saturday

An unusual Faith and the Environment event this Saturday afternoon.

With Ven Lama Yeshe, the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, Rabbi Janet Darley of South London Liberal Synagogue, Rockingham Young People and others.

Tree planting, wild flower seeds, pledges and more . .

Saturday 30th June  2-4pm.

At the Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Centre, 15 Spa Road, Bermondsey, SE16 3SA.

A local event which is open to everyone!

A Year of Service

The Jewish community gets together on social action projects on Mitzvah Day in November each year. During A Year of Service, with the support of the Department of Communities and Local Government, nine faith communities will be inviting people of different religious and philosophical traditions to join them on social action projects.


More dates for your 2012 diaries :)

A Year of Service is one way of celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and could easily add an extra dimension to the wide range of community activities which religious and multifaith groups are engaged in, year in, year out.

The Year will be led by nine faith communities in the UK, each inviting others to join them (on specific dates) in social action projects to improve their local neighbourhoods.

Here is the list:

28 February                Bahá’í              Launch in Hyde Park
21 March                      Zoroastrian    No Ruz, visiting the elderly
22 Feb to 7 April         Christian         Lent, cleaning and restoring
16 April                        Jain                  Mahavia Jayanti, visiting the sick
27 May                         Christian         Pentecost, meeting the stranger
16 June                         Sikh                 Martyrdom of Guru Arjan, bringing sweetness
3 July                            Buddhist         Asala Dharma, caring for the environment
4/5 August                   Muslim           Ramadan, meeting new neighbours
5 October                     Christian         Harvest Festival, feeding the hungry
7 October                     Hindu               Sewa day, helping the homeless
18 November              Jewish              Mitzvah Day, growing things
2-24 December          Christian          Advent, fighting poverty

Thanks to everyone who has let me know about this initiative – Duncan, Rashid, Alan, Justine, Susanne, Siriol and others.  Shall we invite someone from A Year of Service to one of our meetings?

More information is available from the faith contacts and there is a flyer especially for south Londoners here.

The Department of Communities and Local Government will be supporting the Year through the website.  The Coexist Foundation will be leading a national celebration to coincide with Inter Faith Week in November – there is a picture of fireworks, so I am hopeful.