Interfaith Week is held in November, and as always is a valuable opportunity for Spiritualism to take its place alongside other religions and faith communities. This creates a greater awareness not only within the interfaith community, but also in the general public. It allows them to acquire an accurate understanding of our way of life, and is an important time to build bridges and connections.

As part of Interfaith Week 2019, Teesside University in Middlesbrough held a ‘Faith and Reflection Fayre’ in the Students’ Union.  The fayre was an opportunity for staff, students and the local community to find out more about different faith and belief communities, try different activities and ask questions about different faiths and religions.

Minister Richard Cuthbert and Philip Robinson, both of the Northern District attended the event to represent the SNU, and exhibited an information stand with literature about Spiritualism.  The event was well attended, and the SNU stand attracted lots of interest from both visitors to the event as well as those exhibiting from other religions.

Minister Richard Cuthbert at Teesside University Interfaith Event

[Minister Richard Cuthbert & Charity Hamilton (Methodist Minister) one of the other Teesside University Faith Advisors at the Interfaith Event]

Richard and Phil fielded lots of interesting questions about Spiritualism and our beliefs, lots of misconceptions were dispelled, and many went away with more knowledge about our movement.  There was a great rapport established with other religions, and some great conversations took place around differences, or in most cases, similarities in the outlooks of the different religions represented.  An invite was extended to Richard to visit the local Hindu temple and speak to the community there about Spiritualism, and specifically our thoughts and ideas around meditation.  The event also provided a positive opportunity to promote Middlesbrough SNU Spiritualist Church which is located on the fringes of the University campus as well as other churches in the local area.

Teeside University has a progressive approach to interfaith, and has recently taken steps to modernise its chaplaincy and faith service that is provided for staff and students. It is recognised that the confidential, non-judgemental pastoral care that is offered needs to reflect and cater for people of many different cultures and people of all faiths, as well as none. As well as taking a role in encouraging and sustaining a spiritual dimension in the lives of its staff and students, it works to bring about mutual understanding between the different faiths, including those without a faith. To these aims into a reality, the University has appointed a Coordinating Faith Adviser to bring together leaders from a range of religions and faiths to serve the University community, including the provision of pastoral support.

Richard has been appointed as a Faith Adviser, and said of his new role, “I’m very excited about undertaking this new role, and this unique opportunity to raise the profile of Spiritualism within the University environment.  I’m a member of staff at the University and have been for around 12 years, so already know the University community of staff and students quite well.  I’ve sat on the University ‘Ethnicity, Religion and Belief Focus Group’ for some time in my capacity as a Minister, and member of staff at the University, and have a very positive feel about this new service being launched, and the opportunities this could give to Spiritualism.  I’ve recently had the opportunity to deliver a talk on Spiritualism to staff and students and have also taken part in a promotion event to represent the SNU.  Both events went well and I’m very happy that Spiritualism is being more recognised and has the opportunity to work with other religions in interfaith activities. Middlesbrough SNU church is located on the fringe of the University campus so I’m also optimistic that an increased awareness of Spiritualism at the University may see more young people stepping through the church doors.”

The service at Teeside has a quiet room on campus, a space for prayer and reflection, and Richard has ensured that Spiritualist literature is available. His involvement in interfaith activity demonstrates the value in nurturing an outward looking religion. It creates understanding, awareness and connection, and ultimately makes Spiritualism accessible to a greater number of people. It seems certain that the growth of the interfaith movement, and our active part in it, is an important aspect of our growth and success. 

It seems that the North East was buzzing with activity during Interfaith Week. Minister Lyn Bradley, who works at HMRC in Newcastle took part in an interfaith event along with colleagues. This is a large site, with thousands of staff, so was a great opportunity to represent Spiritualism. Lyn will continue to support interfaith work and raise Spiritualism’s profile in her workplace. They are hoping to hold a whole-day event soon. Over in Durham, Andrea Dunn DSNU took part in an interfaith discussion on climate change and had representatives from Humanist, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Baha'i faiths and communities - as well as Andrea representing Spiritualism! "The one thing I took from this meeting" she tells us, "is how much we all agree, and just use different words and phraseology."

If you would like to initiate or expand your interfaith work as an SNU Church or Individual Member, contact us, and we can support you in your initiatives.

You can learn more about the Interfaith Network (IFN) by visiting their website.

[Philip Robinson  Minister Richard Cuthbert, meeting staff & students at the Interfaith Fayre]