A beautiful beginning for UK Interfaith Youth Network

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Religions for Peace UK has been preparing to set up the UK chapter of Interfaith Youth Network and our European colleagues have been most graciously helping us along the way. On the 3rd December, the culmination of a long period of preparation work reached maturity and the summit at Taplow Court organised by the European Interfaith Youth Network, and the event heralded the inception of the UK Interfaith Youth Network.

The summit included representatives from many faiths coming from UK, Italy, France, Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Finland, Poland, and Israel. The wealth of knowledge and dedication of these young people will contribute greatly to the building up of the UK chapter and we are looking forward very much to the continuation of formation work in 2017.

The Buddhist participant Gabrielle Westhead, representative from Soka Gakkai International-UK (SGI-UK) –  the lay Nichiren Buddhist organisation, writes:

The UK Interfaith Youth Network is still very much in its infancy, it is already a great cause for multireligious youth from organisations in the UK, including members of Soka Gakkai-UK, Coexister, Focolare, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, National Hindu Student Forum UK, Pandava Sena and the Student Christian Movement UK, to unite and contribute to coexistence and peace here in the UK. It will develop its vision into the new year and invites UKreligious and interreligious youth organisations to consider joining the network.

More information on the Religions for Peace Website:  http://www.religionsforpeace.org.uk/

and RfP European Interfaith Youth Network Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rfp.eiyn/

Please contact Gabrielle Westhead (gmwesthead@gmail.com) and/or Rupal Maru (rupalmaruc@gmail.com) for any enquiries.

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The eighth annual Interfaith Week ran from Sunday 13th November to Sunday 20 November.

The Interfaith Network for the UK leads on the Week, and its Co-Chairs, Bishop Richard Atkinson and Jatinder Singh Birdi have said:

“The 500+ events that have taken part around the UK have sent a powerful signal about people of different faiths and beliefs working together for the good of our shared society and about the importance of positive interfaith relations. The Week has also highlighted the enormous contribution that those of all faith and belief communities make – in most cases through volunteering – to their local communities.”

The Week has seen an astonishing range of events and activities: multi faith remembrance events; faith trails and open door days; conferences and seminars on topics from tackling hate crime,  to health and faith, and  different faiths’ and beliefs’ understandings of particular issues; social action initiatives from help for refugees and the homeless to river cleaning and tree planting; football matches; music, dance, poetry and arts and craft workshops; school activities; quizzes; the launch of new initiatives; cookery sessions; exchange visits between places of worship of different faiths; a youth ‘Interfaith Summit’; blog series; exhibitions; photographic and art competitions; campus programmes; dialogues on a wide range of topics; celebrations; and more.

Faith communities have taken part across the UK.  They have hosted those of other faiths, journeyed with each other to visit each other’s places of worship; discussed responses to the challenging issues of the moment; contributed to social action projects to help their local communities; and taken active roles in civic and other markings of the Week.  Locally, an increasing number of churches, gurdwaras, mandirs, mosques, synagogues, temples and viharas have thrown open their doors. People of non-religious beliefs have also been actively involved in many events.

Interfaith organisations have also played a significant role in the Week, from the UK’s 250+ local interfaith groups, through to national interfaith bodies. A special event held at the Houses of Parliament by the All Party Parliamentary Interfaith Group with the Interfaith Network for the UK  on Tuesday 15 November explored local interfaith work and the importance of local interfaith bodies with inputs from Interfaith Glasgow, Faith Network for Manchester and the Redbridge Faith Forum. There was cross-party participation in the Week at both national and local levels.  Both Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Communities Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth attended events.

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