As part of Scottish Interfaith Week I attended the Interfaith Prayers for Healing and Peace in Helensburgh. The group meets every Wednesday morning for prayer at the United Reformed Church where Rev Mitchell Bunting (Bungie) is now the Minister. I had met Bungie through CAIRS or Churches Agency for Interfaith Relations in Scotland. It was lovely to see him again and his continued work to promote interfaith dialogue. Rev Bunting said,
“Mindful that Wednesday 13th November would be during Scottish Interfaith Week, with it being my turn to lead the prayers and in conversation with a Baha’i colleague, Allan Forsyth, I decided to offer a time for interfaith prayer and reflection for peace and healing. Although this was arranged at short notice and publicity was limited, we were delighted our regular group was joined by some visitors who were coming specially for the interfaith nature of this week’s gathering”.
Rev Bunting used the NHS and Interfaith Scotland’s resource book ‘Reflections of Life’ as the basis for his session. He highlighted a few pages and asked folk to spend a few moments looking through these and to choose a prayer or a meditation that came to eye. In this way we shared words on peace and healing from a wide variety of faith and belief traditions. After half an hour of sharing we concluded with a moment of silence.
One of my favourite readings was this passage from the Prophet Mohammed in the Islamic faith tradition:
“We can channel our desire for peace and the need to obtain inner sanctity in the remembrance of Almighty God. You cannot enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Spread salam (peace) among yourselves.”
When the session concluded those able to stay remained for coffee and a time for chat. Rev Bunting says that this was the first time they had organised anything for Scottish Interfaith Week but buoyed by its success he is keen to continue this next year and to develop interfaith relations in Helensburgh and the surrounding area. Allan Forsyth, Chair of the Baha’i Council for Scotland, is also keen to build on interfaith work in Helensburgh and between them there are plans afoot – so watch this space!
Shanny Newall, SIFW Ambassador