A group of churches and mosques have announced a new phase of dialogue aimed at encouraging Christians and Muslims to meet and share conversations in their local settings.
The scheme brings together a church, from a variety of denominations, and a mosque in a shared neighbourhood and offers them guidance about how they might go about setting up a local conversation. Now that faith centres are open once again after the covid lockdowns, this could be held at a place of worship or over a shared meal for instance.
The appeal is for churches and mosques to volunteer for the new programme, particularly where they have not attempted such an interfaith encounter previously. The aim is to learn more about each other’s faith and practices, to foster understanding and to take the first step in meeting neighbours from a different faith. To register an interest to join the new programme, please visit www.christianmuslimforum.org and fill out the expression of interest form.
The programme builds on a highly successful digital pilot last year, which brought mosque and church congregations together for a series of online conversations. Using Zoom technology, topics of exchange included lessons learnt from living through a global pandemic, comparing religious festivals and how to develop more local co-operation.
There were tangible practical outcomes to the discussions. For example, in Darwen, Lancashire, churches and mosques partnered to offer food and furniture for refugees and asylum seekers in the town. In Surrey, congregational members from Banstead United Reformed Church (URC) teamed up with the Muslim Cultural & Welfare Association of Sutton for an open Q&A for Christians and Muslims to learn more about each other’s faith.
Speaking about this new phase of dialogue, the URC’s Interfaith Secretary, Revd Philip Brooks said: “We believe that by encouraging local mosques and churches to meet with one another, it is not only beneficial in terms of mutual understanding, but it also offers greater potential to extend the support that faith communities are so good at providing to their local communities.”
Zara Mohammed, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “On-the-ground conversations in local communities facilitated by this and similar programmes are much needed throughout the year. They remind us that the universal principles of justice, fairness and compassion are shared by all faiths and we look forward to more mosques and churches getting involved in the coming months.”
The church-mosque conversations initiative is organised by the national faith bodies below and offers the possibility of leading to a twinning programme developed by the Christian-Muslim Forum:
Muslim Council of Britain
Christian Muslim Forum
United Reformed Church
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Published: 1 December 2021