A Joint Statement by Leeds Faiths Forum and Concord
Interfaith Fellowship concerning the Arson Attacks in
Beeston, Leeds - 5th June 2018
As instruments of peace, members of Leeds Faith Forum and
Concord Interfaith Fellowship stand shoulder to shoulder to
condemn the senseless and cowardly arson attacks that were
carried out on two places of worship in Leeds yesterday.
We stand in the light of goodness within each of us and show
solidarity with our brothers and sisters from the Guru Nanak
Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara and Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira
Mosque. Both were the victims of hate crime.
We urge all communities to show hope where there is despair,
light where there is darkness and love where there is hate.
Only then can we show the true power of love because that
binds us all together.
Our thoughts, prayers and solidarity go to the communities
affected by this horrific hate crime.
Anyone requiring further advice and information on reporting
hate crimes and security procedures for establishments can
approach West Yorkshire Police on 101.
Further advice can also be found in the Interfaith Network’s
“Looking after one another: The safety and security
of our faith communities”
Concord is one of the oldest interfaith groups in the UK, founded 40 years ago. It exists to foster friendship, trust, tolerance, understanding and co-operation among members of the faith communities of multi-cultural Leeds.
The group also works closely with the Leeds Faith Forum
and is affiliated to the national Interfaith Network for the UK.
Concord is a registered Charity with a secretary, treasurer and executive committee.
Some of the faiths Concord brings together:
Baha'is, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Sikhs and others.
Its aims are:
- to advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in the Leeds Metropolitan District, and to nurture respect and friendly relations by facilitating interfaith dialogue and organising educational and cultural events;
- to promote and to work for justice, peace and social harmony for the public benefit in the multi-cultural Leeds Metropolitan District by advocacy, by focused public events and projects, and by co-operating with other organisations that have similar objectives.
and Recent News
Peace is a Process - Concord AGM 2018
On Wednesday 16th May, Concord held
it's AGM, at the Leeds Museum Discovery Centre. Those who
arrived early were able to partake of a tour of the storage
facility, and have a glimpse of some of the items not on
display presently across museums in Leeds. The AGM began
promptly at 7.30pm, briskly taking care of the agenda items,
with minor changes to the Principal Officers and Executive
Lucy Moore, the World War One
Projects Curator for Leeds City Council took us through a
detailed and interesting Powerpoint Presentation on
"Peace is a Process - the impact of the 1918 Armistice and
how Leeds is commemorating this in 2018".
As the AGM coincided with the first
day of the Muslim month of Ramadan, Lucy had a final treat
instore for those of us present, we were able to view a
piece of the covering from the Kaa'ba dating to 1917. Ustadh
Adam Aslam then opened the month of Ramadan by reciting the
Interfaith - A Beacon of Hope (The
Peter Bell Memorial Lecture 2018)
On Wednesday 25th April, the Revd Dr
Marcus Braybrooke, the President of the World Congress of
Faiths, gave the Peter Bell Memorial Lecture, entitled
"Interfaith - A Beacon of Hope".
After acknowledging the inspirational
work of Concord's own Peter Bell, Marcus went on to discuss
his involvement in Interfaith work, which paralleled that of
Peter in many ways, and his involvement in a number of
international interfaith efforts, including Religions for
Peace, the United Relgions Initiative (URI), the Parliament
of the World's Religions, and the International Peace
The final part of his talk focused on
how interfaith work has an important contribution to make
towards "healing the past and creating a happier and more
healthy future", through combatting ignorance, prejudice and
seperatist ideology, and by being welcoming and open to those
from paths not our own.
"All our faiths offer us hope for
the future and perhaps hope is what we most need today. In
the words of an old hymn, 'Earth shall be fair and all her
people one.' This is why I believe the interfiath movement
is a Beacon of Hope."
What's the Point of
Concord's March meeting, led by
Co-Chair John Summerwill, was very different from usual.
Attendees were treated to a selection of videos to inform
and inspire discussions around "What's the point of
The film clips varied from a black
and white silent movie through to up-to-date documentaries
to a compilation of world-leader statements. They included
different types of dialogue - theological exchange,
practical and social action as well as conversation.
After each short film we had a brief
discussion, not just about what we had seen but also its
relevance to us, in
Concord, and in Leeds. There were
some areas where it was felt that our activities had an
impact, such as the Peace Service, the Walk of Friendship,
and Women Peace-ing Together. However, it was felt that in other areas, e.g. involving
young people, we need to enhance our engagement.
Finally, there was a discussion about
how to take things forward, with the suggestion of compiling
a small, pocket-sized booklet to help others understand the
purpose of Concord and the value of interfaith dialogue and
Faith in Elderly People: The Leeds
In February Concord members came
together to listen to the Revd Dr Albert Jewell and the Revd
Canon Alan Griggs talk about the history and purpose of
"Faith in Elderly People" (FIEP).
A lively and entertaining double act ensued, with Alan
covering the history of FIEP; with its origins, the factors
that led to its creation, going back to the 1960s when
churches were seen to be doing a better job in providing for
communities. He then tracked the changes through to the
1990s, with FIEP being founded in 1991, and subsequent
developments, changing attitudes to the elderly, and project
work instigated by FIEP.
Albert then gave us a short presentation on his personal
involvement with FIEP, and their publications, readily
available (and reasonably priced) from FIEP at
with further details of their current activities and projects, as
well as their contact details if you wish to get involved in
Saints of Northumbria
Dennis Hallam, a Buddhist member of
Concord now living in Chopwell, near Newcastle, has sent us
copies of two pictures that he has composed, inspired by a
recent guided visit at Durham Cathedral, centred on the
Northern Saints. He has created them in the style of the
In order to see a more detailed image
of each picture, please "ctrl+click" on each image to follow
the hyperlinks to the full sized images.
Violence: Its Causes and Cures -
Buddhist & Jewish Perspectives
On Wednesday, January 24th, Concord
members gathered at the Jamyang Buddhist Centre to hear a
discussion led by Rabbi Jason Kleinman, of Beth Hamidrash
Hagadol Synagogue, and Kerry Prest, Director of the Jamyang
Centre, on Jewish and Buddhist Perspectives on Violence.
This was the first in a new series of Concord meetings
exploring dfferent faith perspectives on the subject of
Rabbi Keinman highlighted the fact
that humans are made in the image of God and are not born
violent, but that as humans we are fallible, and that the
"Yeszer Harah", the evil inclination, is a part of our
nature, and that through religious practice and rituals we
can each individually master and conquer it. There also
exists the belief and practice of "Teshuvah", repentance,
which gives the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and
Kerry Prest explained that Buddhism
is about the mind, so that violence, in whatever form, is
seen as an external manifestation of what is happening
internally. Therefore, to address issues of violence,
spiritual work in the form of meditation needs to be done on
the mind.The ultimate aim of Buddhism is Enlightenment, in
which there is no basis for pride or anger or negative
Islamophobia Awareness: Causes
and Cures with MEND
On a cold and dark November night,
Concord members and friends gathered together at the Quaker
Meeting House on Woodhouse Lane to partake in a presentation
on the causes of Islamophobia in the UK today and how we can
respond to them efgfectively. The event was hosted by Ustadh
Adam Aslam in conjunction with Shahab Adris, the Yorkshire
and Humber Regional Manager for MEND (Muslim Engagement and
There followed MEND's key multimedia
presentation, which has so far been seen by approximatel
30,00 British Muslims and allies. This provided a great
chance to discuss a pressing and sadly growing form of hate,
alongside anti-semitism, whilst approaching solutions.
Shahab then followed this up with a spoken presentation,
highlighting three of the major causes of Islamophobia:
1. biased multi-media and negative
portrayals of Muslims;
2. the notion that inadequate laws
did not fully respect the core traditions of Muslims and
created insecurity and demonisation of Muslims in the public
3. a lack of participation of
communities of the faith, and also the wider community in
their lack of understanding of Islam and the Muslim
A discussion and presentation on the
cures and responses to hate crimes then followed, looking at
better reporting of all hate crimes, community engagement
(both formal and informal), education, safe spaces and
focusing on postive stories and their promotion. Many
positive comments and questions followed, and much futher
discussion was had, highlighting the postive contribution
that Muslim communities have in the UK, economically and
socially, and as a part of our city.
Further information about MEND and
their resources can be found here.
Concord's Annual Peace Service
What one thing could you
change in your life for peace?
Who would you be if you were
working for peace?
These two questions were the
challenge that students from Abbey Grange CE Academy put to
themselves, to others in their school and to the people who
came to Concord's Annual Peace Service in October.
The event was held in the Banqueting
Hall of Leeds Civic Hall, in conjunction with the Leeds
Peacelink Group, with their Chair, Cllr David Balckburn,
making the keynote speech.
The full text of the service,
including the passages read and the students' script can be
Faith Perspectives on
September's meeting broke with
tradition and brought together four speakers from our
Executive Board to outline and discuss their varied faith
perspectives on gender issues. Jay Anderson discussed the
wide variety of pagan taditions, and how they may perceive
gender issues across a wide spectrum, from traditional roles
for the sexes, with binary opposition of gender, through to
the more liberal traditions that atre fully inclusive of
those who identify as LGBT+. Ustadh Adam Aslam acknowledged
that the majority of Muslims hold traditional views about
ther distinct roles for men and women. However, he went on
to say that in universities the topic of sexuality is being
hotly debated amonst Muslim students, and that there is room
for a diversity of views on gender issues, where the
scriptures are not always seen as absolute, and open for
interpretation. Gurmukh Singh Deagon said that Sikhs do not
talk about private sexual matters, so LGBT+ identities are
not acknowledged, but that there should be respect and
dignity for all. Dr David Goodman explored Brahma Kumari
understandings of the relationship between the soul, which
is genderless, and the body through which it has to
function. When we get beyond gender we can be respectful of
all gender differences and similarities and transcend them.
The subsequent discussion covered a wide range of related,
and pertinent topics. There was general agreement, by the
end of the evening, that this session had been a good
starting point for a bigger discussion that is needed, and
to which we must return.
An Afternoon in
On 9th August, eleven members of
Concord boarded a minibus for a visit to two of Sheffield's
interfaith buildings, Burngreave Ashram and Shirley House.
At Burngreave Ashram we were welcomed
by Revd Deacon Andrew Crowley of Sheffield Interfaith,
Nirmal Fernando and the Revd Dr John Vincent. We were taken
into their multifaith library in the basement, where we had
tea, biscuits and a talk about the Ashram and it's wide
variety of activities.
We then made our way across the city
by minibus to Shirley House, on Psalter lane, next to St
Andrew's, an Anglican-Methodist Church, where we were met by
the Revd Gareth Jones, Caroline Cripps (Chair of the Shirley
House Interfaith Centre), and several of the Christian,
Jewish. Muslim and Pagan members.They talked about the
diversity of faiths and faith buildings in the city, as well
as the various events held at Shirley House. We were well
fed with Pizza, salad and desserts before we headed back to
Faith, Refugees and
On 10th July, the Revd Dr David
Randolph-Horn chaired the meeting looking at personal
experiences of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. His introduction
to the evening brought the work of AJAR (Asylum Justice and
Release) to the attention of those present. Our first
speaker was Ntambwe Nkomo (from the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC)), who told his harrowing tale from university
activist in his home country in the late 1990s, through his
journey to England and the subsequent long drawn out process
of seeking asylum, which even now is still ongoing! The
second story was not of a first hand account from a refugee
and asylum seeker, but from Ustadh Adam Aslam recounting the
journey made by his grandfather from India in the late 1940s
to the newly created Pakistan, and then onto England. Our
final, short contribution came from Mustafah who is
experiencing continued difficulties with the Home Office
including them placing him in Leeds miles away from his
friends and his support network in London. He is also
awaiting their decision about his latest claim for asylum,
following earlier claims being denied.
As is often the case, the
contributions inspired some probing questions - of us, this
time rather than our speakers. How do we respond to people
with "bad attitudes" towards refugees and asylum seekers?
How do we dispel the myths and give correct information?
What was the purpose of this meeting? Are we just listening
to stories, or are we prepared to help? Food for thought.
Anniversary commemorative book available to purchase
A Leeds Interfaith Story 1946-2016
Written by a team including Trevor Bates, Primrose Agbamu, Cynthia Dickinson , John Moreton & John Summerwill (with contributions from Concord members)
283 A5 pages in full colour - 238 illustrations
This substantial and unique book, published to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Concord, tells the story of the different faith communities in Leeds and of the key individuals who have promoted interfaith relationships.
Copyright ©2018 Concord (Leeds
Inter-faith Fellowship). All Rights Reserved.
Registered Charity No.: