Yesterday, I spent a large chunk of the day getting involved in a “Faiths and Beliefs” event that was held at our local town hall, which the SIWG committee I am a member of helped to arrange. The idea was to invite various faith communities to set up displays on things they do in the community and offer an opportunity to inform and engage with Council workers. Other than a couple of stallholders getting a parking ticket over an administrative miscommunication the general consensus was that the day was a success and it was well worth taking the time to organise, participate and attend.
While not every faith organisation that was doing things for the good of the local community were present, many were, ranging from Hospices, Food Banks, Night Shelters, Street Pastors, Debt Counselling, College Chaplaincy, Family Support and several other activities that are going on that benefit the people of the town. My own stall was given over to one of the Gideon representatives, who happens to attend my church, and it was good to be able to share the work our local branch does giving out Bibles to schools, colleges, hospitals, hotels etc., and we were able to give out some New Testaments, some to some surprising recipients.
It wasn’t just Christians represented either. We had members of the Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities displaying too and also one Humanist. It was nice as always to catch up with friends, old and new, from those groups and engage in meaningful dialogue. I would like to think that the Council staff and councillors who visited the event enjoyed their experience, made useful contacts and got to understand better what faith communities are contributing to the life of our town. In these days of austerity and gaps in services, that are becoming all too evident, the need to involve faith communities in plugging some of the gaps seems all too apparent and hopefully what we did yesterday was a step in the right direction.