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Reflections for January

as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life

 

Pam Spychal

 

REFLECTIONS JANUARY 2019As I am writing this in December, I have decided to start the New Year with one last look at the old year. Specifically I am reflecting on my involvement with the Great Yarmouth Inter Faith and Belief Network. Currently our Network is represented by Christians (of several denominations), Muslims, Jews, and Pagans
 
This time last year I finally plucked up the courage to lead one of the Network discussions. We were talking about Christmas. It gave me the opportunity to express my belief in the incarnation through the birth of Jesus Christ, and how that is central to my own Christian faith. The group listened to me respectfully; though I know they do not all share my belief. Apart from that we all had many views in common about Christmas – family, gifts, generosity and messages of peace, to name just a few
 
Our Network was represented at the Holocaust Memorial Day Service in January by myself, Della (a Muslim) and Don (a Unitarian). This took place in the Jewish area of Caister Cemetery and was attended by the Mayor and Henry Cator, the High Steward of Great Yarmouth. This very moving act of remembrance was conducted by Revd Simon and included a sharing of bread amongst the participants. There is something strangely inspiring about standing in a chilly cemetery which brings people of many different backgrounds closer together
 
In March we held a poetry evening. This was very well attended. People chose lines and verses of poetry, which reflected their own spiritual journey. To me it demonstrated an intangible and (I believe) universal spiritual quest in search of the Numinous (“a sense of the presence of divinity” – Merriam Webster online dictionary)
 
In June we took part in the annual Community Fair, held at the Library, where we were able to display a range of books and artefacts. We tried to represent as many faiths as we can including the Bahai, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh faiths as well as our own faiths. I got quite excited when I spotted a Sikh person from another community group. He was very interested in our Network, but unfortunately he was just visiting from Norwich. We had many interesting conversations with members of the public. We spoke with atheists and agnostics, who often acknowledge a ‘spiritual’ side to their nature despite having no religious belief or faith
 
In July we discussed the role of women. I was fascinated to discover that there are now a small number of female Imams (Muslim prayer leaders), especially in Europe and North America. I was not surprised to discover that this is very contentious – yet another thing we have in common! 
 
The Network was invited to send representatives to a meeting at Great Yarmouth’s Mosque in September, to listen to a Police presentation about the Government’s “Prevent Strategy”. This is concerned with the prevention of hate crime, extremism and radicalization. So far, in our region, only incidents of right-wing hate crime, extremism and radicalization have been reported  
REFLECTIONS JANUARY 2019BThe National Inter Faith Week takes place in November. This year we took our display and representatives to Christchurch Methodist Café for the week and we were again blessed with many deep and meaningful conversations. The highlight of the week was an Inter Faith Service. This included music, hymns, readings and prayers, carefully selected to reflect what unites us rather than what divides us. I read from 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.” The service was very well received by all who attended, including the Mayor
 
As the year came full circle we decided to enter a tree for the Minster Christmas Tree and Crib Festival. I think we did rather well for our first attempt
 
Meanwhile our work continues. David is our link with the National Network with whom we are now fully affiliated; Don is Chaplain at East Coast College and Della is much in demand in schools seeking to better understand Islam
 
We have begun to plan activities for 2019, to which you are all warmly invited:

Wednesday 9th January: 2 pm: visit to the Masonic Lodge, The Royal Assembly Rooms, Albert Square, NR30 3JH

Tuesday 22nd January: 2 pm: Network Meeting, Friends Meeting House, Howard Street South, NR30 1LN

Sunday 27th January: 12 noon: attendance at The Holocaust Memorial Service, Blackfriars Jewish Cemetery, Alma Road,
Blackfriars Road
 
Pam Spychal
 
 


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Article printed from networkyarmouth.co.uk at 22:51 on 23 March 2019