This year’s Interfaith Service last Sunday was incredibly moving. I am sure I was not the only one feeling emotional by the end of the first song by the Interfaith Choir or after listening to St Peter’s Youth Choir.
The service is in its ninth year and is organised by the Brighton and Hove Inter-Faith Contact Group.
It works to build peaceful relations and promote greater understanding between people of different faiths, and none, and their communities in the city.
The Tree of Life was this year’s theme and each group offered thoughts from their own faith perspective.
Contributions came in the form of prayers, speeches, readings, poetry, songs and silence.
The children of Downs Junior School recited the Song of the Tree, passing the microphone from one child to the next like true professionals.
Such events offer a welcome opportunity for reflection in a busy and often fraught world.
I must also say thank you for the welcome refreshments at the end. While I missed out on the chocolate and beetroot cake, I got to try a slice of the homemade Bakewell cake which I imagine would be hard to rival.
The Dialogue Society made a traditional Noah’s pudding. I’m told it is the “oldest dessert in the world” and Muslim tradition says that when the waters of the Great Flood receded, the Prophet Noah and his family gathered up all the food left in the Ark to make it.
The label said that it “excludes selfishness, hate, discrimination and despair”. I brought mine home to share with my partner.
A book about the Tree of Life was left on every seat and I look forward to reading again the thoughts of a range of teachings and perspectives including Jewish, Islamic, Zen Buddhist, Pagan, Christian and Bahai.
This sort of event sums up our values as a city – those of tolerance and diversity. We are a city of many faiths and none, of diverse communities, and we all have so much to learn from one another.
I welcome these opportunities to learn more about other cultures and faiths and believe they bring us closer as a city community. It felt very special to be included in this event.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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