In September I was asked to chair the Richmond Inter Faith Forum and was very happy to accept, having attended their meetings for the past 5 years. The Forum is sponsored by Richmond Council and has an important role to play in facilitating good civic relationships as well as religious ones.

It has three main purposes: to promote mutual understanding between faith leaders (eg by discussing topics like funeral practices); to organise a programme of events that raise levels of awareness (eg visits to places of worship); and to facilitate good liaison between public/borough bodies and faith groups (eg working in partnership on issues like dementia, domestic abuse and homelessness).

I like the fact that all major world religions are represented on the Forum, despite there being very few places of worship in the borough other than lots of churches and a synagogue. We borrow Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist leaders from neighbouring boroughs so that all residents with a religious affiliation are represented. We also have a
representative from Humanists UK. This is because we are actually a ‘faith and belief’ forum, and Humanism is a belief system with a network of groups, much like a faith community.

In Covid times we sadly can’t meet together in person. But I’d like to promote an online event that we’re organising with a speaker from Cambridge University. Dr Marrisa Quie, an expert in Migration, Peace and Conflict Studies will be talking about ‘Unity in Crisis’ and how our diverse communities can work together in times of crisis. The online dialogue will be held on 24 November at 7.30pm; please pre-register here.

One thing we can all do: take an interest and talk to people about their beliefs and traditions. It’s easy to assume things, but until we actually ask and listen we might never properly understand.

Best wishes,

Rev Joe Moffatt