Thursday, 13 October 2016

Interfaith Walk

On a sunny Sunday afternoon back in June I decided to go along to an Interfaith walk which had been organised by Brian Ball. All I knew was that along the walk we would be visiting a church, a mosque and a temple. It sounded interesting so with my mother and daughter in tow we packed a drink and an umbrella and headed off.

We started at Edmonton Methodist Church with an introduction from Brian and some refreshments. After a bit of mingling we entered the church to listen to Minister Alan Combes tell us about the church building. He explained that it didn’t look like a traditional church but that they had adapted the space to serve as a church for the congregation of 250 people. We sat on the lovely cushioned chairs and admired the soE carpet, balcony and music area for the children. We led into a discussion about children’s attendance (or lack of) at church – something we found to be a common problem across faiths.

We then began the short walk to the Mevlana Rumi Mosque which was just across the road. This was very exciting for me personally as I remembered coming to this building as a child when it was Edmonton Library. We were welcomed by Seval Gocke who began by saying how proud she was to be a female director of the mosque. We sat in a very grand common room and Seval told us about Ramadan (which was halfway through at that me) and invited us to special celebrations which were happening the following week. We removed our shoes and entered the prayer room which had a beautiful carpet. I was intrigued to see how the men and women were separated but surprised to learn that women could pray together with men albeit standing at the back. We listened to some prayers sung by one of the members.

Once our shoes were on we said goodbye and headed off to the Nagapooshani Ambaal Temple. On arrival we saw that the Temple is currently being rebuilt and we were taken to the temporary temple next door. The room was filled with statues which were introduced to us by Shanmuganathan Navaratnam (also known as Shan). He told us the names of each of the statues and ex-plained the animals associated with them.
It was overwhelming to see the amount of detail related to each one and their importance in the Hindu faith. We then went to see the build-ing site and the evolving new temple. How impressive! Each stone was shipped over from Sri Lanka and there were hundreds. I will definitely be returning to see the finished project which is expected to be ready next year.

The final stop on our walk was back to the start where we met Jagdish Aminaden from the Baha’i faith. He explained that they do not have a specific place to worship but rather they meet in halls or houses. Jagdish gave us a talk about the founder of Baha’i, Baha U’llah and the 3 main beliefs which are one God, one humankind and one religion. We then watched a video showing a holy place called Haifa in Israel where the ‘Shrine Of The Bab’ is found. The beautiful gardens surround the Shrine and this is also where the administration offices are based. It is definitely a place I would like to visit one day. I enjoyed the walk and the chance to find out more about the faiths. I learned that there are similarities and differences. It was good to speak to others along the way and share our experiences. I would like to thank Brain for organising and I look forward to the next interfaith event. Hopefully you will join me!

- Nathalie Muller

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