Woking People of Faith make a stand for Peace in teh Middle East.

People of Faith in Woking gather in a peace Vigil

 

Woking People of Faith has responded to the current violence in the Middle East in three ways:  

 

  • By issuing a statement condemning violence perpetuated in the name of religion.
  • By calling all faith groups to pray within their own traditions particularly in the week up to Sunday 13th July  for peace in the region. (We know that most are already praying regularly).  As we pray within our own traditions we do so acknowledging that our sisters and brothers in other faith groups are doing the same.  WPOF issued  a ‘joint’ prayer for those who wish to read it.  Some will not. The call to pray ‘together’ for peace is about being of one mind in our call for peace and unified in our action – whatever theology informs our particular prayer.  
  • By holding a short peace vigil on Sunday 13th July.  This was not an act of worship but a demonstration of our joint commitment as people of faith, to peace, and an act of solidarity with the victims of violence.      Around 50 people gathered at Al Asr Centre, Woking. WPOF chairperson, Somia Shafiq, welcomed everyone with the following words:

 

As a community of people of different faiths in Woking, we are here to express our joint condemnation of violence carried out in the name of religion – and especially that which is taking place in the Middle East at this time.   We meet today for two reasons

  1. 1.     To stand in solidarity with and express our compassion for the victims of this violence.
  2. 2.     To commit ourselves to working together for peace and peaceful relationships within and between our communities here in Woking. 

This peace vigil is a small and humble act which speaks to complex human and political issues. However, Woking People of Faith has never shied away from small beginnings.  We believe that learning to understand one anothers’ faiths and cultures, and building friendship is an important step in promoting harmony for the benefit of the wider community of Woking. Standing together and working together for peace is complex but vital.   We hope that the unity and friendship we display today will provide evidence that it is possible to live in this way without having to agree on everything.

The question ‘can we pray together?’ raises many theological questions with which we, as friends, continue to wrestle.  If you wish to pray, you are invited to do so within your own tradition.

 

The meeting heard short readings on the theme of peace from four different faith perspectives. Candles were lit and silence was kept.  Participants were invited to pray within their own traditions and the meeting ended with the sharing of peace.    

 

By all accounts this was a significant and moving event. Woking People of Faith continues to press forward with the slow but important task of building relationships between people of different faiths and cultures in Woking for the good of the wider community. Strong relationships are a vital foundation for robust conversation,  and joint action even when we disagree with one another on some things.

 

 Participants together at the Al Asr Centre

Chair person, Somia Shafiq (Left) with two committee members, Marian Nash and Kauser Akhtar

Vice Chairperson, Simon Trick, chats about peace with our Al Asr hostsDr Naqvi (centre) catches up with friends at the end of the vigil

Peace Vigil

 

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