Moderator hosts faith leaders from across Scotland

Developing a deeper understanding of different faiths has never been so important, the Moderator of the General Assembly has said.

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning said religion was never far away from the world's agenda and there was "much misunderstanding" about what people believe in.

The Moderator spoke out after hosting an Interfaith Scotland meeting at the Church of Scotland offices in Edinburgh yesterday.

A large group of faith leaders
Representatives from different faiths met in the Church of Scotland's offices in Edinburgh

Dr Browning said: "it was a privilege to host the Scottish Faith Leaders' Forum.

"Faith has never been far from the world's agenda.

"In a time when there is much misunderstanding about the different faith families across the world, there has never been a more important time for people from all faith traditions, and none, to understand something about different faiths.

"It is important that whilst we acknowledge where we are distinct and different, there are many areas where people of faith can and must work together.

"When sisters and brothers in faith can meet together, talk together, listen together and work together, then this can only ever be a good thing.

"Faith motivates our compassion and our care and enables us to make a difference to people who are often isolated, left-behind or marginalised by society.

"When Jesus tells us to love our neighbour, our neighbour is anyone and everyone.

"In the human family, we are all neighbours".

Annual gathering

The annual Interfaith Scotland event saw representatives from the Jewish, Sikh, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian communities gather in the Church of Scotland offices in Edinburgh.

The meeting was also attended by the Principal Clerk, Rev Dr George Whyte.

Common concerns were shared by the different groups, such as a rise in Antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Josh Littlejohn of social enterprise Social Bite spoke to encourage members of different denominations to take part in 'Sleep in the Park'.

The event, which will take place on Saturday 9 December, is expected to be attended by 9,000 people and will raise money to help combat homelessness in Scotland.

Porridge smiles

Ravinder Kaur Nijjar, who sits on the Scottish Interfaith Council, discussed the Porridge Smiles campaign currently run by Mary's Meals throughout October.

A member of the interfaith meeting with porridge raising money for Mary's Meals
Ravinder Kaur Nijjar raising money for the Porridge Smiles campaign run by Mary's Meals

To highlight the hunger experienced by school children around the world, the campaign gets people to decorate their porridge with a smiley face and donate money to buy children in Malawi and Liberia vitamin-enriched maize porridge for school each day.

Ms Nijjar was delighted to raise £160 when everyone gathered had a go - enough to eleven children for a year.

Mirella Yandoli, Interfaith Officer for the Church of Scotland said: "Yesterday's meeting was of particular importance."

"As we attempt to strengthen our connections with the different faiths of Scotland, it is great to be able to offer our hospitality on such occasions."

Rwanda

Ms Yandoli also spoke about a recent interfaith trip to Rwanda.

"I enjoyed the opportunity to share the project I have been involved in, with the collaboration of Interfaith Scotland which took ten young Muslims and Christians on a study trip this September", she said.

Scottish Interfaith Week is 12th - 19th November.

This year's theme will be 'Creativity and the Arts'.

If you would like to participate in your own Porridge Smile please contact Ms Nijjar for more information.

Group photo from the interfaith trip
A recent trip to Rwanda supported by Interfaith Scotland