Report on Inter Faith Week 2015

Inter Faith Week took place in 2015 over the period 15-22 November. As well as the ‘Teaching British Values?’ conference on 14 November, DFBF held or attended several further events.

‘Faith and Belief Speaker Training’

The first group’s training was completed in a final session held on Saturday 21 November 2015 at the Exeter Community Centre, St David’s Hill.

The aim of the programme was to improve the quality of faith speakers being sent into schools, colleges and community settings, in the hope that in time there might be a bank of DFBF trained people these bodies might confidently call upon to provide this important service.

After two previous Saturdays of training in October, trainees arrived for their final session in inter-faith week having just, for the most part, undertaken a classroom placement to put into practice what they had been learning so far.

The programme began with an introduction to the education context, followed in week two by a session on presentation skills. Participants attending came from a wide range of faith and belief backgrounds, including Buddhist, Bahá’i, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim.

Those taking part travelled from across Devon, and plans are well advanced to provide the next series of workshops in March 2016.

Exchange-visitsExchange Visits to Exeter Mosque and Cathedral

Dean Jonathan Draper visited Exeter Mosque on Tuesday 17 November where, after attending Midday prayers, he spoke to a significant gathering of Muslims in the Mosque’s community room. His words were well received and were followed by a Questions and Answers session.

Two days later, on Thursday 19 November, Imam Mohammed Abrar visited the Cathedral where he attended Evensong. Afterwards he addressed an open Cathedral meeting in the Sacristy where around forty people heard him speak. Both conversations were particularly pertinent given the terrorist attacks in Paris the previous Friday.

Bishop Sarah Mullally also visited the Mosque on the Thursday, the Imam having arranged for a number of Muslim women to meet her along with himself. This was visit was covered by ITV.

In the course of the evening the Dean and Imam held a private conversation, recorded for transmission by BBC Radio Devon on the Sunday morning!

ParisPeace Walk and Vigil

Also on the Thursday evening, around 200 people progressed from Exeter Civic Centre to the Cathedral to express a desire for peace in the wake of the events in Paris the previous Friday. This attracted BBC coverage.

Other Inter-Faith Week Events

A College teaching session in Exmouth, and a Parish over-dinner talk focusing on Islam in the Escot, Feniton and Payhembury group of churches also took place in the week.

Report on ‘Teaching British Values?’ conference

Teaching-British-Values-2DFBF held the conference ‘Teaching British Values? Faith and Belief Perspectives’ on Saturday 14 November 2015 at The Mint Methodist Church Centre, Exeter, just before the start of Inter Faith Week 2015.

More than 60 people with an interest in Education, including many school governors from across Devon, met for a morning on British Values. With the duty placed on schools to ‘promote British Values’ this proved an engaging and lively morning.

The day began with everyone observing silence for the victims of the previous night’s Paris attacks, an event which gave an added contextual resonance to what followed.

Jeremy Roberts then chaired an open presentation and debate led by Jonathan Marshall and John Hall which all too quickly had to come to a close as participants then entered workshops. The Governor’s grouped of around 20 people took the form of a ‘Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent’ (WRAP) training session led by Jonathan Marshall. The Devon Inter-Faith Forum for Youth (DIFFY) with Bev Smerdon held a workshop led by young people; and, Ian Jamieson led a third workshop on ‘How to explore British Values from a faiths perspective.’ Ed Pawson ran a fourth workshop with a faith representatives panel which had contributions from a range of different faith voices.

The conference provided a valuable opportunity to grasp with a challenging contemporary education issue, and various display tables and resource materials were made available to add yet further value to the day.

A vote of thanks was given to DFBF and especially its Chair Jude Taylorson and her working group for organising the conference. Given the support and enthusiasm shown for the day, the DFBF are now actively considering what now needs to be done to follow up this most successful day.


Speech by Lord Mayor of Exeter for Hiroshima Day, 8 August 2015

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
As we face the memorial days, as the Lord Mayor of Exeter, I am honoured to attend this event as part of the international Mayors for Peace movement.

I hope that this significant anniversary will serve as a chance for everyone to remember once again the earnest message of the hibakusha, the surviving victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a Japanese word that literally translates as “explosion-affected people”, that “no one else should ever suffer as we did”, and also renew our commitment to realize a peaceful world free from nuclear weapons.

In these tragedies many died, but many others also lived to see their lives shredded, as their own wounded flesh, fading away slowly, in unbearable suffering from toxic radiation.

I want to honor the memory of these sufferers today and sincerely hope that their innocent sacrifice will serve the cause of peace in our world.

Today, in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, there are bombs which are 20 megatons and more, that is to say that each one has an explosive power more than 1,000 times than that of the Hiroshima bomb.

The future is not written in advance. We cannot penetrate the darkness of our fate. But everything urges us to consider that “nuclear weapons constitute the accepted end of mankind.”

Mankind remains under the effect of a perverse and permanent nuclear blackmail.
We must break free from it.

Everyone has the responsibility to do their part in saving humanity, and not to have to endure the fate that those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered, that we are here to commemorate today.

We look forward to the day when every country will be free from nuclear weapons, with all living in peace, prosperity, and tolerance.

That is a future legacy to be proud of full of hope and kindness.

I hope in marking this anniversary today, that from this will come the change I have outlined.

A story generations after us will tell, not with tears of sadness borne out of war or disaster, but tears of joy and hope for humanity from the lesson learned 70 years ago this week.

Earth Matters, Faith Matters

Update: Workshop report and resources »

At a time of immense environmental and ecological challenge, it is essential that the world’s faith traditions engage more fully in what we may call planetary awareness and action.

Devon Earth and Faith Network invites you to a free day of exploration and inspiration

Sunday 1st November 2015
11.00a.m. – 4.00p.m.
The Old Deanery, Exeter

Main speaker:
Satish Kumar

Other contributors include:
Richard Dealler (Pilgrimage)
Hamzah Saied (Islam and Creation)
Sandhya Dave (Stories of Sustainability)


  • To develop a network of locally based faith champions for climate justice and earth care
  • To share good practices and break the isolation of doing this work seemingly alone
  • To inspire participants for the future and enthuse deeper understanding and engagement in issues around their faith and climate justice

Places limited. Please book with Joanie Harris. Tel: 01392-294940 / Details will follow.

Download poster (pdf)

DFBF Annual Report 2014-15

AGMOn 9 July, DFBF held its 2015 AGM at County Hall, Exeter. The AGM considered the Annual Report 2014-15, which includes an overview of the year and updates on DFBF’s three projects: DIFFY, Faith Speakers, and DEFAN.

Download the Annual Report 2014-15 (pdf; 3Mb).


JutindharoThe guest speaker at the AGM was Ajahn Jutindharo, on “Buddhism, Understanding and Living in the Modern Age”. Ajahn Jutindharo grew up in Leeds. He studied physics at university, and then worked for several years in medical research whilst writing a PhD. At university he became interested in meditation and Buddhism, which culminated in a decision to join a Buddhist monastic order in 1987. His monastic life has been spent primarily in England, with short periods in Asia. Since 2007 he has been the senior incumbent at the Hartridge Monastery in Devon.