Herefordshire Inter-Faith Group
The initial meeting of Herefordshire Inter-faith Group (HIFG) was in December 2014 at the Bishop’s Palace. The following faiths were represented: Buddhist, Jews, Christian Science, Church of England, Islam, Society of Friends. Other participants were SACRE, Herefordshire Council, the Police. A supporting letter was sent from Bishop Frith.
There was much good will at this first meeting and a statement of intent was formulated:-
The purpose of HIFG is to create an environment for all Faiths in Herefordshire to develop a united presence through peace and understanding. To meet and learn from one another, to recognise each other’s faith through art, culture, education and friendship. To build a friendship built on understanding, based on mutual trust and respect as we appreciate the spiritual, moral, social and cultural diversity, of each member faith.
Unfortunately because of illness and some members unable to take up their roles within the Group, HIFG did not have another meeting until mid 2015. The initial aim was to have regular monthly meetings, but it was not feasible as people were too busy. A steering group was set up which included Buddhist, Baha’i, Anglican, Christian Science, Quaker, Neville Meredith (Herefordshire Council) and a Police representative. The Group struggled with its organisational structures, a constitution, the question of membership fees, and general administration.
However, some impressive events have taken place, which have been amazing and humbling. There have been two services in 2015 and 2016 in the Cathedral to celebrate the International Day of Peace. The Quakers participated offering their Peace testimony in 2015 and in 2016 extracts from African Voices for Peace were used with examples of conflict resolution and reconciliation.1 Other participating Faiths were Buddhists, Baha’I, Christian Science, Hindus, Jews Anglicans and Muslims. A Muslim sung a ‘Qiraut’ (selected verses from the Quran). This single voice was both haunting and immensely spiritual. The contributions offered by each Faith gave us all a rich and colourful experience in prayer, in sound and sincerity. Both Peace Services were well attended with people coming from as far as Evesham, Pershore, Redditch and Bromsgrove. The next Peace Service will be in September 2018
A meditation day at Almeley Meeting House was very successful and fully booked and another one is arranged at the Methodist Hall in Leominster on 25th November 2017. For International Women’s Day a craft and meditation event was held for women. Again this was successful although numbers were small. The aim was to encourage women who would not normally be allowed to participate in a mixed gender event.
There has been a visit to a Gloucester Mosque where visitors were warmly welcomed and learnt about how the Youth attended Quranic school to learn the Quran by heart. Zack Pandor HIFG Treasurer and our key Muslim contact arranged the visit (Zack has also given a Millichap Lecture).
St. Michael’s Hospice showed an interest in HIFG and asked if we could offer a Light up a Life service. This took place in the Hereford Meeting House in December 2016. Another is planned for December 7th 2017 2-4pm at the Meeting House.
Civil Bodies such as the Council and the Police have shown an interest and support for HIFG with particular concern for migrants, refugees, and combating racial and religious prejudice.
There are occasional Coffee Mornings, to help people be aware of HIFG and to raise funds. The next one is at Forbury Chapel, Leominster Friday 17th November 10-12noon. Fund-raising is still an unsettled question. A membership subscription has been considered but not implemented.
It is interesting to note that Quaker Meeting Houses have been seen as appropriate places to welcome people of all Faiths, and hopefully such people have felt equally comfortable within such locations.
Information on HIFG can be found on our Facebook Page and the website:
1. The African Voices exhibition came to Hereford Cathedral for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January 2017, and later an extract was used with visual accompaniment for a special Pentecost service for the Hereford Diocese in the Cathedral with kind permission from Friends House.
Hereford Meeting October 2017