Bristol Multi-Faith Forum is actively encouraging the ‘Inter-Faith Week Buddies’ idea as a possible way to mark the Inter-Faith Week. The Inter-Faith Week ‘buddies’ scheme involves two people of different faiths or of a particular faith and of a non-religious belief:
- keeping in touch on a weekly basis during September and October;
- choosing or developing questions on which to share their thoughts and experiences; and
- during Inter Faith Week, sharing online or at a socially distanced event, in an agreed way, some reflections on what they have gained from this.
Some questions for possible exploration:
- How does your faith or non-religious belief shape your daily life – including at this time of COVID-19?
- What, in your faith or non-religious belief, encourages service to others in society?
- Has COVID-19 brought any lessons about common values and action?
- Why is Inter Faith Week important?
This is an opportunity for sharing and learning, on a one-to-one basis across a limited period of time, about what is important to us, in the context of our wider community. The process may, of course, lead to longer term conversations and new forms of practical co-operation.
INTERESTED IN TAKING UP THE IDEA WITHIN YOUR ORGANISATION?
If you are interested in taking up the Inter Faith Week Buddies idea, please call on 0778 9040267 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please know how to build good relations with people of different faiths and beliefs.
- Invite interested members to be in touch, asking them if there is any particular faith or belief background or backgrounds from which they would be interested to have an ‘Inter Faith Week buddy’ and securing their permission to share a contact email address or phone number with someone who would also like to be a ‘buddy’.
- Put people who have expressed interest in touch with one another. [Note: It can be helpful for people to have met in person first but no face to face meetings should be arranged at present unless they can adhere to social distancing guidelines].
- Act as a point of contact if any queries or concerns arise in the course of the virtual dialogue.
You may also wish to arrange an opportunity for Inter Faith Week feedback by participants – eg a Zoom meeting or blog section on your website.
If your organisation is a national faith community representative body you may wish to join with a similar body of a different religious community to take part.
All participants remain responsible for all aspects of their activities.
Some Practical Pointers
- Agree your expectations, for example about frequency and duration of contact (you can always agree to change that later), respectful engagement, what you hope to gain from the exchange, etc.
- Set any boundaries of what you are happy to discuss (for example, some might wish not to discuss events in other countries).
- Be realistic about what kinds of questions and responses will work within the format.
- Take a few minutes to go through together Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs and to agree these or other ground rules that you wish to have.
- Agree that your exchange will be private to you, except what you both agree to share at the end of the process.
- Begin by sharing a little about yourselves and asking a question of each other.
- Bear in mind that this is a time with some major faith festivals and that may have some impact on people’s ability to reply to each other swiftly at times.
SHARING WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED
- Agree together, in the last week of October or first week of November what you might like to share with others about your conversations: what you have learned from these and what points for others might have emerged from them.
- Agree how you will share these thoughts – it may be that you are part of a local inter faith body, for example, and they would like to feature some of your reflections as part on an online discussion or event during Inter Faith Week.
- If you would like to share on social media that you are taking part, please use the hashtags #InterFaithWeek and #IFWbuddies and tag @ifweek on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
SAFEGUARDING AND SAFETY
- Safeguarding is very important. Buddies should be over the age of 18 years old and commit to engage in respectful listening and dialogue. They should also respect the privacy and security of other buddies and their families.
- There are many different ways that you could choose to engage, for example, telephone, email, letter, or virtual chats using Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, Teams, WhatsApp, Facetime or any of the others available. Whichever platform you choose, it is important that people feel safe and keep themselves safe. All major platform providers give safety and security advice and it is worth having a look at that before you begin.
- Do not share your phone number, WhatsApp, address, email, social media profiles etc unless you are both comfortable with doing so.
- Do not share anyone else’s phone number (including WhatsApp, WeChat, etc), address, email, social media profiles or any other form of personally identifiable information.
For tips on inter faith dialogue, and the different forms it can take, you might like to take a look at IFN’s Let’s Talk: practical pointers for inter faith dialogue resource, which is freely available online: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/lets-talk-practical-pointers-for-inter-faith-dialogue.
THE THREE AIMS OF INTER FAITH WEEK
- Strengthening good interfaith relations at all levels
- Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
- Increasing understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs