Upcoming events

London 2014 rThere’s plenty on in London to get 2014 off to a great start!

20 January 9.30am – 4.10pm  A Conversation about Conflict exploring the faith influences that can be used to tackle difficult issues in a community setting.  St Ethelburga’s and Christian Muslim Forum are co-facilitating the workshop at 305 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9LH.  Details here.

  • Could your faith community improve the way it responds to conflict?
  • Are you interested in bringing the principles and practices of your faith into your responses to conflict?
  • Are you interested in sharing your faith practices across faiths and learning from each other?

22 January 10am-12pm Together in Service funding briefing at Bethnal Green Mission Church, 305 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9LH.  There’s also a chance to talk to the TiS team individually about potential projects.  Details here.

22 January 6.30-8pm  Poverty and the Tolerance of the Intolerable – talk by Prof Amartya Sen at LSE . The talk will be live-streamed on LSE’s website and a podcast made available. Details here.

27 January  Holocaust Memorial Day events have been been organised by many London boroughs in cooperation with local religious communities, including Barnet, Lewisham, Haringey, Southwark, Greenwich, Croydon, Brent, Lambeth, Hounslow and Havering.  Details of all London events here.

27 January 5.30pm European Parliament training event with Faiths Forum for London at Europe House, Smith Square, W1.  The aim is to engage with citizens and faith groups to raise awareness of the issues and debates taking place in European Parliament and how citizens can get involved the decision making. Details here.

South London Inter Faith Group meets on the last Thursday of the month at 12.30-2pm at Streatham Friends Meeting House, Roupell Park Estate, Redland Way, SW2 3LU.  Next meeting 30 JanuaryDetails here.

4 February 6pm The Dialogue Society Book Group Meeting 5: A Distant Shore, by Caryl Phillips The Dialogue Society, 402 Holloway Road, N7 6PZ.  Details here.

Westminster Faith Debates are back with a new series, on global religious trends, at RUSI, 61 Whitehall, SW1A 2ET at 5.30pm, including on 12 February What is driving sectarian violence in the wake of the Arab spring? and on 12 March Are attempts to promote worldwide religious freedom naive or necessary?  Details here.

18 February Women in the 21st Century conference at Queen Mary University, London E1 4NS with a wide range of speakers and workshops (£40). Details here.

Westminster Cathedral Interfaith Group meets next to the Cathedral in Victoria on the third Wednesday of the month at 4pm.  Upcoming speakers include Hugo Clarke (Curzon Institute) on World War 1 (19  February), Raheed Salam, faith and interfaith consultant for NCVYS (19 March).  Details here.

11 March 3-5pm  London Boroughs Faiths Network meeting at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Eland House, Bressenden Place, SW1E 5DU.  We are also planning two focused meetings on health and on young Londoners.

Goldsmiths’ Faiths and Civil Society Unit has a series on Faith in the Public Realm, including How do governments do God?  Warwick Hawkins MBE, Head of Faith Communities Engagement, Department for Communities and Local Government
12 March at 5pm.  Near Neighbours – can Christians do public faith for everyone? Dilwar Hussain, New Horizons in British Islam, 14 May at 5pm.  Details here.

15 March  God and Government Conference with Theos, covering welfare, religious freedom, multiculturalism, and education among others.  Details here.

Research Project on Attitudes to Self-Sacrificial Death for National and/or Religious Motives.  Prof John Wolffe (Professor of Religious History, The Open University) is interested to hear from anyone from a Catholic, Protestant or Muslim background who would like to take part in this study by being interviewed.  “In the run-up to the centenaries of the outbreak of the First World War (August 1914), of the Easter Rising in Dublin (April 1916) and of the Battle of the Somme (July 1916), we are developing a historical and contemporary study of British and Irish views on martyrdom and sacrificial death. We are interested not only in perceptions of events a century ago, but also in the way casualties have been regarded in events within living memory such as the Falklands War of 1982, the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and IRA attacks in the mainland UK in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. We are also exploring more contemporary examples, notably reactions to the 9/11 and 7/7 bombings, to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the ‘Arab Spring’.”  Details here.

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LBFN’s celebrations at Europe House

Thanks to everyone who made our 10th anniversary celebration such a memorable occasion!

It was great to be with so many inspiring people from neighbourhoods across the capital and from a wide range of different communities.

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The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Woolwich, who was our first speaker, with Catriona Robertson (LBFN Convener), Aliya Azam (Al Khoei Foundation) and Steve Miller (Faith-based Regeneration Network).

View the full set of photos on Flikr and download the programme booklet, which includes links to local groups across the capital.

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LBFN friends from nearly all the London boroughs and from over 10 major religious & belief traditions gathered together at Europe House in Westminster.  Officers from local authorities and the police service joined the celebration.  The Home Office, HM Prison Service and the Department for Communities and Local Government were also represented.

We heard inspiring stories from many of our members.  It was heartening to hear of the excellent work that takes place, mainly under the radar, in so many parts of London.

Local religious and community groups working in partnership – with each other, with public agencies, with government and with academic bodies – was a major theme.  As was the importance of building trust, sharing experience and expertise – and finding practical, smart and strategic solutions together.

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Dr Haider Ali (left) of the Open University Business School reported on the initial findings of his research this year into the work of LBFN members.  He highlighted the complexity of our work, the inherent tensions within it, the benefits of co-producing public services and the importance of values being at the heart of all we do.  Download Dr Ali’s handout here.

The European Network on Religion & Belief, which LBFN has been closely involved in setting up over the past three years and which is now registered under Belgian law, was celebrated.  Rachel Stone, Dr Syed Kamall MEP’s Chief of Staff, brought messages of support and we received a warm message from Han Steijnebrugh in the Netherlands, Chair of Seric Europe.

Bishop Michael spoke about the benefits of making links across the continent and of recognising the historic complexity of European life.

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The London Peace Network, which LBFN launched to promote the 2012 Olympic Truce, co-ordinates local initiatives, including activities to mark the UN International Day of Peace in September each year. Lord Michael Bates (left) is our patron and Aliya Azam (right) has organised many peace-building events at the Al Khoei Foundation and as part of Brent Interfaith.

Dr Chris Hewer, who is well known to many local churches and Islamic centres in London for his Understanding Islam courses, sent a message radiating “peace and light over you via the ether. I am delighted that you have reached your tenth anniversary!”

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Dr Shuja Shafi (Harrow Mosque & Muslim Council of Britain), Lord Michael Bates, Catriona Robertson, Aliya Azam and Rosalind Miller (Islington Faiths Forum).

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Many of us stayed on for something to eat and a chance to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones: Saad Mahmood and Steve Miller (centre).

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The British Transport Police, who have hosted LBFN meetings at their HQ in Camden, were amongst our guests.  The picture includes members of Enfield Faith Forum,  Susanne Mitchell (Presence & Engagement Network – left), Jan McHarry (Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum and Faith-based Regeneration Network – lower left) and Sgt Keith Johnson (right).

Malik Gul (Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network) talked about his co-production work with Wandsworth Council and the local NHS, training local religious leaders to support early intervention and redesigned pathways.  Public agencies, he said, will struggle more with preventative actions without the support and engagement of local religious and community organisations.

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Roz Miller of Islington Faiths Forum (right) spoke of her pioneering work on mental health and poverty and of the collaborative relationships she has built with the local council and NHS.

Zahra Imame (third left) works with local groups across London and facilitates 'Conversations of the Soul' with the Christian Muslim Forum and Near Neighbours. Zahra Imame (third left) works with local groups across London and facilitates 'Conversations of the Soul' with the Christian Muslim Forum and Near Neighbours.

Zahra Imame (third left, seated) works with local groups across London and facilitates ‘Conversations of the Soul’ with the Christian Muslim Forum and the Near Neighbours Programme.

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We had a wonderful bunch of people sharing their stories and ideas, with no shortage of humour.  Leonie Lewis (right) spoke on behalf of the Jewish Volunteering Network and Faiths Forum for London (LBFN has been co-opted to the FFL Council in 2012 and 2013).

Charanjit AjitSingh (right) of Hounslow Friends of Faith talked about her work on holistic care with the clinical staff at the Middlesex Hospital and of the series of Good Neighbour Days which the Friends organised with Hounslow Council during Inter Faith Week.

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Saadat Yusuf (left) of Muslim Sisters Jamaat talked about British links with Nigeria and about the vitally important work of supporting young mothers.

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Rabbi James Baaden of Sha’arei Tsedek (North London Reform Synagogue, which marked the UN International Day of Peace 2013 with the London Peace Network) and Inno Amadi (Haringey Council).

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Front row: Revd Francis Parker-Allotey (Enfield Faith Forum), John Woodhouse (Westminster Cathedral Inter Faith Group), Balbir Singh Bakhshi (Greenwich Faith Community Leaders), Rashid Laher (South London Inter Faith Group) and Bessie White (Hounslow Friends of Faith). Back row includes Jan McHarry (Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum & Faith-based Regeneration Network), Charlie Ryder (HMP Wandsworth), Andrew Cameron (Southwark Cathedral), Matthew Trigg (Westminster Council) and Brian Lovell (St Stephen’s Walbrook).  Rizwan Alibhai (South London Inter Faith Group) is standing.

Video clips will be available soon.

Many people have been in touch since 25th November: contacts, emails and new ideas for partnership and joint working have been buzzing across London.  There is a lot of energy amongst those of us who were at Europe House – and also amongst the many who couldn’t make it but were with us in spirit.

Dr Harriet Crabtree, Director of the Inter Faith Network of the UK, kindly sent this message, “Warmest congratulations to LBFN on its significant work and achievements in its first ten years and all good wishes for its future work.”

Theology for Practitioners was popular this year and links to our previous work on multifaith spaces.  The London Peace Network is busy making plans for 2014 and our continued links with European groups & the EU bring further opportunities for working in partnership beyond the UK.

Engaging strategically with our local councils, the police & prison services; bringing local communities and expertise together with NHS professionals to overcome health inequalities; concerns about poverty, discrimination and injustice; active peace-building and promoting the strength and prosperity of our local neighbourhoods; social action and contributing to the evolving public conversation on religion, belief and our public services – these are all close to our hearts.

At our next meeting (probably late January or February) we’ll have an opportunity to see where this takes us.  By then, our registration process should be nearing completion.  As ever, if you would like to be put in touch with someone with similar interests, or if you have something you’re keen for us to tackle or to consider at a future meeting, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Guest post: religious history in Wandsworth

Guest posts are always welcome.  Many thanks to John Woodhouse for reporting from Friday’s event.  John runs Westminster Cathedral Inter Faith Group and a busy email list – please contact him for further information.

Exploring Religious History in Wandsworth

Balham Baptist Church 14th June 2012

Supported by the Open University and Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network

Professor John Wolffe introduced the Building on History Project and we had a fascinating talk by Dr Clifford Hill on the Wilberforce Heritage in which he made it very clear that the legacy of slavery was still with us, notably in the 2011 riots. He pointed to white slavery as well as the black struggle.

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Wandsworth people from Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh traditions decided to move forward with a religious history project.

Dr Tim Powell described the religious archives at the National Archives and a representative from the London Metropolitan Archive in Camberwell spoke. It struck me how people of faith may not know that their history is preserved in local collections like the Local History library at Battersea and Wandsworth Museum as well as National collections.

We then heard from leaders from Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, New Testament (they have their own published history!), Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh communities. Common themes began to emerge. There are many firsts in Wandsworth e.g. Quakers, Huguenots, temples. Many immigrant communities hung onto their faith in the face of opposition and struggled to get established. Youth work and community service were common themes.

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Moulana Ali Rizvi addressing the seminar.

In the discussion that followed several themes emerged. Informing the younger generation about the past and using SACRE to help with funding. The John Cass foundation which is specifically for Wandsworth was mentioned as a source of funding. The council Green Plaque scheme and Wandsworth library, Balham Society, Putney Society, Battersea Society and especially Wandsworth Historical Society should be approached for help. A website and possibly a book for young people should be established and we were told that a London wide site is in progress.

A fascinating afternoon and a lot was learnt about each other!

John Woodhouse

The programme for the day can be downloaded here.

Open University research – three places left

ou logoThere are three places available on Thursday 20th June for a structured look back over the last few years in London.

LBFN celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.  We are working with Dr Haider Ali at the Open University to tell the story of local multifaith activities across the capital.  What were the significant events and relationships, how did our ideas develop, how did we respond to changing contexts?  What made an impact and what was valuable?  Where are we now and what does the future hold?

After some preparatory reflection, we’ll be meeting at the OU’s building in Camden.  The day will be intense, but productive and stimulating.  It will result in a research paper and a short report which is likely to be of interest to policy makers and practitioners alike.

Those who expressed an interest earlier this year have been invited first, but please let LBFN know asap if you have been involved in local multifaith work and would like to take up one of the remaining places.  Download the full details and programme here.  The first deadline for a preliminary piece of work is Saturday 15th June and Dr Ali’s receipt of this will confirm your place on 20th June.

There has been considerable interest, not least because it will include a look at the future and an opportunity for some strategic thinking.

What’s On: prayers for peace| funday | lunch | lectures | religious history

Seven invitations – two of them are for tomorrow.

Ismail SerageldinWednesday 29th May at 5.30pm: Lecture by Dr Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Library of Alexandria, Memory, Culture and Hope: Reinventing Relations between the West and the Muslims, followed by a reception. The Drama Studio, Institute of Education (Main Building), 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL. Download invitation here.  Please register at administration@egyptculture.org.uk.

Wednesday 29th May at 6.30pm: Kensington and Chelsea Forum of Faiths: Inter Faith Prayers following the murder in Woolwich at Al Manaar, Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, 244 Acklam Road W10 5YG.  Contact Revd James Mather.

Thursday 30th May at 12.30pm: South London Inter Faith Group Lunch at Streatham Friends Meeting House, Redlands Way, Roupell Park Estate, Brixton Hill, SW2 3LU. As usual, a vegetarian lunch will be served at 12.30pm. Contact SLIFG at membership@southlondoninterfaith.org.uk.

Muslims-Multiculturalism-SOAS-2013Saturday 1st June – Sunday 2nd June: SOAS, University of London, Conference, Muslims, Multiculturalism and Trust: New Directions.  To consider the potential offered by lived experience and creative visions of intercultural exchange to offer new ways of envisaging multicultural experience.  Speakers include Rehana Ahmed, Valerie Amiraux, Claire Chambers, Sohail Daulatzai, Rumy Hasan, Salah Hassan, Tony Laden, Alana Lentin, Nasar Meer, Tariq Modood, Anshuman Mondal, Peter Morey, Stephen Morton, Jorgen Nielsen, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Amina Yaqin.

Friday 7th June at 6.30pm:  The 2013 WPCT Lecture will be given by the German Ambassador, H.E. Georg Boomgarden, Valuing Europe beyond economics: what binds us together? at Europe House, 32 Smith Square, SW1P 3EU.  Contact Win Burton.

BATCASaturday 8th June 12-5pmBATCA Funday in Broadwater Road, Tooting, London SW17.  Anglican church and Muslim school combine to provide fantastic afternoon of fun “Celebrating Life Together”. Attractions appeal to all including inflatables, fairground rides, clowns, sideshows, animals to pet from Kingston City Farm, arts and crafts workshops, sports, stalls run by craftspeople and stalls run by local voluntary and community organisations. Multicultural food will be on sale throughout the day. The road space will be closed to traffic and filled with attractions and stalls.  Contact Kate Allan.

Friday 14th June 12-4pm: Exploring Religious History in Wandsworth, with the Open University.  Balham Baptist Church, 21 Ramsden Road, London SW12 8QX.  Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network and the OU’s Building on History team invite you to explore the religious history of the area and to discuss a prospective local religious history project. Contact Nadeene Morris.

March meeting: 2012 and the Open University

Dr Haider Ali has kindly arranged for LBFN to meet at the OU in London next week on 23rd March (details from LBFN’s Convener).  Dr Ali attended our January meeting to tell us about some research he is involved in.  We’ll be able to ask more about it next Wednesday, but here’s an introduction –

The Open University is currently submitting a research proposal looking at the involvement of faith leaders in health initiatives. If any organisations are interested in taking part, we’d be most interested in hearing from you. The research project will not just be about gathering information, but also delivering (free) competence enhancing training to participants. Contact h.a.ali@open.ac.uk

The deadline for adding an event to the Mayor’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad is 31st March.  LBFN is registered, so if anyone would like to use this umbrella to publicise their own local event in 2012, please come along.

A follow-up meeting about forming a network of grassroots intercultural groups across Europe will take place in Brussels this Thursday.  LBFN’s Convener is attending and will be reporting back next week.  There is a possibility of a November gathering in Brussels to bring practitioners together from different European countries to share experience and ideas, much as we do at LBFN.  Just get in touch if you’d like to know more.

As ever, let the Convener know if you’re planning to attend on 23rd March.