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Faith Crawl 2016

At the Buddhist centre Rita Langer

At the mosque Rita Langer

At the synagogue Rita Langer

23 February 2016

The Faith Crawl 2016 took place on Wednesday February 10th. We travelled by coach and visited a Quaker Centre, a Mosque, a Buddhist Centre and an Orthodox Synagogue. As it was a beautiful day, we enjoyed our walk to the Quaker Meeting House on Hampton Road.

At the meeting house we were welcomed by 5 members of the community, including Helen, one of the elders and one of our students, Angus. They explained how their meetings go and what range of beliefs their community holds. They shared a sense of openness, welcoming people from different walks of life or thought patterns. Two of the newest members shared how they joined the Quaker community and how it benefited their spiritual walk. The elders shared how they were thinking, in this new year, how the Quakers could get involved with local communities.

We went to our second stop, the Shah Jalal Jame Mosque in Easton. There Nassir, who attends the mosque and is involved in community work around Easton, welcomed us, showed us the facilities and took us to the upper room. There we sat in a circle and listened to him as he explained the five pillars of the Islamic faith. We were able to ask questions and learn more about Muslim values and beliefs. Nassir insisted on love being the source of the faith, compelling its believers to respect and honour everyone around them. As someone asked Nasser about the spiritual experience of being a Muslim, the Call to Prayer started, in a very timely manner, which allowed us a lovely insight into Islam as we were finishing our visit.

Our third stop was at the Sakya Buddhist Centre in St Andrews. We were welcomed by Miranda who is one of the initiates who run the Centre. They introduced us to the Buddhist community in their neighbourhood and the classes they have available for people who might want to know more about Buddhism and meditation. We heard about the different teachers who visited the centre several times and about the two volunteers’ experience and journey towards Buddhism and as Buddhist initiates. Miranda insisted on the importance of seeking peace and avoiding doing harm to people or any living thing.

Our final stop was at the Orthodox Synagogue on Park Row. We were welcomed by Avi (our Jewish chaplain) and Alex. We heard a detail account of the history of the Jewish community in Britain but more specifically in Bristol, which was very interesting and insightful. Though rather small, the Jewish orthodox community is a strong one with a great sense of family. We were able to have a look at old Scrolls used during the Synagogue’s services. Avi talked us through the order of service follows when coming together. We also heard about the important involvement this community has had in the city Bristol since it was established.

After our last visit, we walked back to the Chaplaincy where we discussed our afternoon over some delicious Indian curry. People were very positive about the effect that this had had on them, teaching them about faith they didn’t know much about, meeting people, therefore taking general religion to turn it into something personal and relatable. We all appreciated being given the opportunity to explore various beliefs, see the similarities and differences and being welcomed so warmly by members of the community. The Faith Crawl shows to be a great way to bust myths about religion and religious people and put our humanity before our set of beliefs

To see the full set of photos from this year's Faith Crawl, have a look at Faith Crawl 2016 - thanks to Dr Rita Langer of the Department of Religion and Theology for taking them.