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Concord's 40th Anniversary book, A Leeds Interfaith Story 1946-2016, is now available FREE online. Click here for details


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 document “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.

Upcoming Events 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 Board Members.

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 traditional prayers.

 

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 Council.

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 Interfaith Dialogue?

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 interfaith dialogue?"

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 interaction.

 

Faith in Elderly People: The Leeds Experience

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 www.fiep.org.uk, along with further details of their current activities and projects, as well as their contact details if you wish to get involved in their work.

 

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 Lindisfarne Gospels.

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 violence.

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 change.

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 thought.

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 Development).

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 sphere;

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 community

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 2017

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 found here.

Faith Perspectives on Gender Issues

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 Sheffield

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 Leeds.

 

Faith, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

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.

 

Concord's 40th Anniversary commemorative book available to purchase

A Leeds Interfaith Story 1946-2016

BookWritten 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.

 

Purchase:

 

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Registered Charity No.: 516339