Corrymeela in Exeter

An Interfaith conference, open to those of all faiths and beliefs and none

10.00am to 4.30pm, 17 November 17 

The Alumni Auditorium, the Forum, Exeter University.

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.

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