Caroline Halmshaw, PCC Member at St Mary with St Alban and Ordinand at St Mellitus College, has contributed the following 'Thought for the Week' this week (30 October 2017).

"Did you see the Channel 4 programme last week? ‘My week as a Muslim’? It’s worth watching, as it’s a strong example of how building friendship with people of different faiths can lead to a breaking down of prejudice.

Our churches are considering being more involved in building friendships and understanding with people of other faiths. The church's response to interfaith dialogue has been varied and at times unhelpful. At one end of the spectrum our engagement is seen as a means to conversion, to winning over the person to our own faith, and at the other end of the spectrum we are so apologetic about being Christian that we hold back and don’t share what we believe for fear of offending someone.

In approaching interfaith friendships two things come to mind:

  • That all friendships can only be built and nurtured on honesty, that we need to be honest about who we are and what we believe if we are going to build dialogue that brings us closer together
  • All people are equally loved and have infinite worth before God and that our difference is something to celebrate

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself’. Luke 10:27

At the centre of our faith is Jesus’s command to love. The Apostles and the early church understood that the term neighbour was no longer confined to the people of Israel, but for all people of every faith and all nations."