On Christmas Eve, churches all over the country will welcome into their midnight mass services people who rarely take part in acts of Christian worship but find candlelit carols irresistible.
In the pews of St Alban’s in North Harrow there will be a special group of visitors: about three dozen Muslims from a nearby mosque.
For the past 10 years, worshippers at the Shia Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex have been attending midnight mass at St Alban’s as a way of meeting their neighbours and taking part in Christmas festivities.
“For us, attending midnight mass is a great chance to participate in an important part of Christmas celebrations and meet people from our local church, many of whom have become our friends,” said Miqdaad Versi, an executive committee member of SICM.
“Ten years ago, this was one of the first times we met, and now it has flourished into a much stronger and long-lasting relationship as we meet regularly, work together and organise joint events.”
The Christmas visits were initiated by young members of the mosque. The executive committee checked with the church that they would be welcome, and every year since up to 50 Muslims have attended the midnight service.
Versi said that most Muslims enjoyed Christmas celebrations and the focus on family. “There are differences in belief, of course, but in the Islamic faith Jesus is revered as a major prophet.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)
Young Christians, Muslims and Jews at the forefront of interfaith cooperation in the UK are honoured today in a unique collaboration between media outlets from the three faiths.
British Muslim TV, Church Times and Jewish News, together with Coexist House, joined forces for the 21 for 21 project to identify inspiring individuals aged under 40 who are increasing dialogue and breaking down barriers – particularly as volunteers but also in their working lives.
It is believed this is the first time media outlets from different faiths have cooperated in such a way anywhere in the world. Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “At a time of concerns about antisemitism and Islamophobia, this initiative between media outlets of different faiths is more important than ever.
Despite the challenges, we have much to be proud of when it comes to the depth and breadth of interfaith cooperation in this country. It is right we should celebrate those leading the way now and in the future.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM JEWISH NEWS (UK)
The Sikh community is known for its generosity and selfless service. Exemplifying the value of ‘Sarbat da Bhalla’ which translates to well-being for all, Khalsa Aid, a UK-based international NGO, is providing iftar food packages for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Iraq.
Khalsa Aid is funding fresh food for Ramzan in collaboration with the Sawa for Development and Aid, a local Lebanese charity. Together they are providing fresh iftar meals to more than 5,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon daily through their ‘Ramzan Kitchen’.
It’s part of a month-long initiative run by Sawa Aid. Sawa means “together” in Arabic. The kitchen has been open for the past five years and is funded through donations.
The initiative has helped provide a sense of belonging for a community that has had to flee their homeland to escape persecution.
Khalsa Aid became the first ever cross-border international humanitarian aid organisation based on the Sikh principles. The charity was founded by Ravinder Singh, who was struck by the plight of the refugees in Kosovo in 1999.
FULL ARTICLE WITH VIDEO FROM INDIA TODAY
Despite its size and location, the Isle of Lewis off the northwest coast of Scotland occasionally makes national news in the United Kingdom because of its conservative religious practices—including the strict observance of the Sabbath by many on the island.
Lewis was the site of the UK’s last great revival—beginning in 1949 and carrying on for three years—and remains one of the most devout parts of the country.
Over the years, there have been controversies relating to the operation of ferries to the mainland on Sundays. More recently, a movie theater has opened seven days a week, while a leisure center maintains its Sunday closure. All have drawn media coverage with quotes from Christian spokespeople reported as being “outraged” by the proposals.
The latest twist in religious affairs has occurred in Stornoway, with 8,000 people the largest town in the group of islands. However, it doesn’t involve Christians outraged about Sunday openings, but that a Free Church of Scotland minister was not outraged by plans to build the first mosque on the largely evangelical churchgoing island.
FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY