First Interfaith Glasgow Networking Seminar
Last week we held Interfaith Glasgow’s first Networking Seminar. The seminar brought together over 50 delegates from at least 9 different faith communities and organisations concerned with good community relations to reflect collectively on how interfaith dialogue and co-operation could help create a better Glasgow for all. The aim was to link up people with a stake in this work, so that interfaith connections can be extended and deepened in ways which have a practical impact on people’s lives.
Participants discussed the findings of our recent research on interfaith engagement in Glasgow which highlights both a range of encouraging initiatives and a number of significant challenges including an over-reliance on a small pool of committed interfaith supporters. To this end we are delighted that one participant commented that the networking seminar conveyed “a sense of a fresh start” and represented a “broader mix than in the past”. (The full report on the first part of this research is available here and the executive summary here.)
Those gathered were asked to reflect on how their various organisations and faith communities might better connect with one another and add value to each other’s work. Discussions were energised, useful connections were made and practical suggestions were recorded and will feed into the planning of Interfaith Glasgow’s future work.
A number of participants commented on how encouraged they were by the examples of good practice uncovered by our research, such as interfaith cooperation to tackle destitution in Glasgow, and saw potential to expand this cooperation. One project which captured imaginations was the teaming up of Glasgow’s Mosques with the Christian charity Lodging House Mission to distribute meat from the celebration of Eid-Ul-Adha to homeless people in Glasgow. This project was facilitated by WSREC.
Others emphasised the importance of work with schools and youth groups, pointed out the need to bring secular philosophical perspectives into the dialogue, or offered ideas for specific initiatives, such as interfaith sports events, visits to each other’s places of worship, dialogue and joint action on environmental issues. A number noted their approval that the Scottish Government is funding Interfaith Glasgow and were excited to hear about the work we’re already doing.
The majority of feedback received so far has been extremely positive. Participants commented, for example, that they were glad to have had the opportunity to meet and share ideas with people of other faiths, to make connections with other organisations, to find out more about the interfaith and intercultural dialogue and cooperation already happening in Glasgow, to hear and discuss the findings of our research, and to brainstorm about possibilities for the future.
One participant commented on what “huge potential” there is for positive interfaith engagement in Glasgow; and, asked to choose one word to describe the afternoon, participants chose words such as “energising”, “inspiring” and “useful”.
The event very much confirmed that there is tremendous goodwill in Glasgow and a commitment to taking this work forward and our hope is that Interfaith Glasgow will play a key role in facilitating and supporting it so that Glasgow will increasingly become – as one participant suggested – an “interfaith city.”
For STV’s coverage of the event see here: “Glasgow faith groups unite to tackle the city’s social issues”