“How often do you meet and have a conversation with someone new?”
“What is the role of religion in moving communities forward?”
“What gives you hope?”
These were some of the questions that were posed last week at ‘Conversations & Beyond: finding and achieving our common humanity’ – an interfaith event that was hosted by the UK Baha’i Community as part of the annual National Inter Faith week.
Bringing together friends, neighbours and acquaintances from a diversity of faiths and none, cultures and backgrounds, the evening allowed for a space to explore the idea of meaningful conversations, to engage in them – allowing for participants to experience viewpoints and paradigms that differed from their own – and to contribute to building social cohesion within the local community.
As described by Lina Mar, the chair for the evening, “Interfaith week…is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the work done by local faith and interfaith groups, increase awareness of interfaith learning and cooperation, celebrate diversity and commonality and open up new avenues for communication and partnership.
It is in this light, of fellowship and communication, that we decided to focus our event on using meaningful conversations to bridge differences, and to form genuine friendships.”
The event opened with the screening of the short film ‘London is Open’, that was made by the London Boroughs Faith Network, reflecting the rich diversity of London’s faith communities and highlighting the welcoming and open nature of these communities.
The main focus of the evening were the small ‘conversation cards’ that each guest received on arrival. Each of these cards had a quotation from the Baha’i Writings on one side, and a series of questions on the other. Each participant paired up with someone else in the room and engaged in conversation, based on the questions posed.
These conversations allowed for the sharing of deep thought and reflection, as well as much laughter and a genuine sense of connection and building of friendships.