Challenging Faith Based Hate: True Stories
16 / 02 / 24
27 / 07 / 23
By Maria Medina
Southend Faith and Belief Network (SFBN) brings together local faith and belief groups to enable interfaith dialogue, enable a regular conversation between the community and the council and to take action to support the community.
SFBN has been meeting together in the current format since Covid in 2022, the network organised a successful interfaith event to show a united front in the face of adversity in the context of the untimely death of Sir David Ames. The theme chosen was to show how faith groups “Unite in Light” during a time of darkness. They were able to explore and explain what the metaphor of light meant to them in readings of scriptures, poems, songs and art. The event was a success with many moved showing how faith and belief groups have so much in common in regards of values.
Later in the year we followed up with a strategy day and the network leads decided to continue the good work from the first Unite in Light event. They wanted to have a regular yearly event to celebrate and “Unite in Light”.
This year the group came up with the theme of One Planet. The climate crisis is having an impact on all of us, and many faith groups already have a very active commitment to support the state of this one planet we share. The group members felt a responsibility through their faith to shepherd and to look after the environment. They wanted to share their activity, their inspiration, and their hopes as to how they do look after this gift that we all have, this one planet.
The focus of how faith groups look after this one planet and how to continue to do so was of the importance for the groups so they decision was made to hold another event in 2023 to celebrate, showcase and inspire different faith groups in how we look after the environment. The event was held on the Sunday 16th of April with many different denominations’ groups showcasing and talking whether it’s scripturally or whether it’s in a practical way what do the faith groups do in supporting this one planet that we all have to share.
With a multitude of faiths and speakers we were all moved to hear what their groups do and what they hope to achieve. The event highlighted some of the local initiatives as well as some of the larger national ones as many faith groups have larger dedicated climate change initiatives.
Building on the event’s momentum and working with the Southend-On-Sea City Council Climate Change Team we are encouraging a series of mini events. We will be supporting some of these faith and belief groups in new ventures and showcasing locally in their churches or places of worship what they do and involve the wider community.
After the event we were all very uplifted. Many of the speakers were able to connect and share with each other about their work and commitment to addressing the climate and environmental crisis. They exchanged ideas and tips and commitments were made to start visiting each other for events, supporting each other’s work and highlighting it to the local community.
Conversations were held on how we can inspire our younger generation coming through to how to involve whole congregations and motivate them. Ideas ranged from making your meeting in the hall a plastic free event to using the local public transport or sharing the car.
Personally, I was very inspired, and my commitment renewed and refreshed thanks to these wonderful exchanges. Being able to work together in our diverse community with various faiths in the best interests of the planet and residents is a fantastic outcome.
The Southend Faith and Belief Network has certainly achieved success with these events and our thanks goes out to the members, community partners and senior leaders in the council for supporting our work.
If you’re more interested in finding out more, please join us at one of our monthly calls. Find out more in link: Faith and Belief Network | Your say Southend
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