Wednesday, 29 September 2010


This Friday sees the celebration of Simchat Torah - "Rejoicing in the Torah" the end of the yearly cyclical reading of the Torah in the Jewish Liturgical Calender and I wanted to highlight an excellent resource for Christians who want to engage with the Hebrew Scriptures as Jewish Scripture and follow the yearly cycle of readings . A Catholic initiative Light of Torah says:

Light of Torah is a network of Catholics who engage in
Torah study. As a lay movement within the Catholic community our purpose is to facilitate a grassroots awakening to the beauty and riches of the Old Testament through the study of Torah in homes, parishes and small community settings. We do so with attention to the biblical insights and traditions of the Jewish people—our ancestors in faith and their present-day descendents—through whom God was revealed in history and through whom we have received Jesus, the Living Torah. We seek to draw closer to Jesus and his people by learning more about the Scriptures he loved and the way in which he, as a Jew, approached them. Our Jewish spiritual heritage is important to us. Christianity is rooted in Judaism as a plant is rooted in the earth. Vatican II recognized this in Nostra Aetate, a ground-breaking document that signalled a new era in Jewish-Christian relations. (More) As part of our Torah study we enjoy ‘sacred time;’ we share Torah insights over a meal, using table-rituals that refresh body and soul. Thus the twofold table of Word and Eucharist, so central to Catholic worship, is here reflected in the everyday rhythms of our homes. We experience Torah as light to the mind and joy to the spirit. Through Torah, God ‘speaks’ to us, drawing us into loving and intimate conversation. We want to be good conversationalists with God! And we want to draw others into this language of love. We develop ways of sharing what we learn with our friends, families and parishes, through publications, workshops and Holy Land immersion experiences.
Our interest in Judaism does not suggest any intention, explicit or implicit, to 'convert' Jews. We recognize that the Jewish people have a unique relationship with God and an irreplaceable role in salvation history. As Catholics we can only be enriched by the influence of vibrant Jewish communities responsive to God's call.
For more about our vision and mission, click on the links highlighted above.
A general information leaflet “What is Light of Torah?” can be downloaded

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


The Niskam Centre in Handsworth attached to the GNNSJ Gurdwara on Soho Road is organising an Inter Faith Community Walk for Well Being in aid of ACORNS, ST MARY’S HOSPICE and NISHKAM-AID to sign up visit the registration site

The Faith Encounter Programme is working with the Birmingham Churches Industrial Group to bring a second series of workshops on 'Faith at Work an asset not an issue' They say:

The ‘Faiths at work’ programme aims to bring together people of various faiths to develop mutual understanding of what each brings to the workplace, including ethical values. If we understand and appreciate colleagues and clients better, then we can be more confident to ‘do business’ together. Employers and colleagues may be nervous of faith at work, yet faith can make a positive contribution to the work place. Faith helps form values and attitudes at work, as in the rest of life. There is much to be gained from exploring the differences between faiths as well as the areas of common ground.

They are still open to applicants check out the web site of BCIG for details.

Barbara Payman who worked with us on the World Council of Churches Week of Prayer for Peace in Israel/Palestine is organising an interesting event in Coventry on Sunday October 10th. Stories for Peace is 'A rare opportunity to join a Palestinian and Israeli storyteller and Playbox Theatre to experience the power of story telling and performance.' The evening opens with a Palestinian Meal at 6.15 and the performance starts at 7.30

Carrs Lane Church Centre in the middle of Birmingham have a very interesting series of lectures coming up this autumn called Dialogues in Faith the first is on Thursday 7th October .
The Birmingham Council of Christians and Jews has an interesting programme of monthly meetings lined up for October 2010 - March 2011 for further details contact Stephen Barton on or 0121 429 2176

And finally a new IMAX film 'Journey to Mecca' is being released in Birmingham next week that looks well worth seeing, the blurb states 'Journey to Mecca is the sensational and award-winning new IMAX movie about the legendary Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta, who left home in 1325 to perform the Hajj and went on to become one of the greatest travellers of all time. Witness the Hajj as it was experienced in the 14th Century, and by millions of people today.'

Friday, 10 September 2010


I am sitting at home typing this entry as the sounds of the busyness and excitement of Eid can be heard in the neighbourhood, we noticed as the end of the month of Ramadan approached a slow build up and a steady increase in activity and energy of our neighbours and then today everyone is out and about many freshly adorned in new clothes, visiting family and friends - Eid mubarak.

Although we didn't join the fast this year as we did in years past in Leeds, Annie and I have been enjoying engaging freshly with the Qur'an during this Ramadan, using for the first time Camille Adams Helminski's beautiful inclusive rendering of selected passages in The Light of Dawn - Daily Readings from the Holy Qur'an.

On different views about Christians reading the Qur'an you might like to take a look at an earlier post on this blog from last year.

To conclude, I have chosen this passage to share with you today from Surah Ta- Ha 1-8

We have not sent down the Qur'an to you to distress you
but only as a counsel to those who stand in awe of God,
a revelation from Him who created the earth and the high heavens;
the Most Gracious is firmly established on the throne of authority.

To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on the earth

and all between them and all beneath the soil.
Whether you pronounce the word aloud or not,
truly, He knows what is secret and what is yet more hidden.

God! there is no god but Hu!
To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Today is Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish calender which is followed by the Ten Days of Awe (Yomim Nora’im) leading to Yom Kippur, the Progressive Jewish Magazine Tikkun have invited inter faith friends to join in the practice of teshuva and have provided a workbook to aid the process, they say

Tikkun is not just for Jews—it is interfaith as well as Jewish. This workbook is an invitation to all people to join with the Jewish people in using the period from the evening of Rosh Hashanah (the day of both celebrating the Birthday of the Universe and of remembering who we have been this last year) until nightfall ten full days later on Yom Kippur (the Day of At-one-ment) to rethink our personal and communal reality and engage with the process of teshuva (returning to our highest selves and turning away from the ways we’ve missed the mark in this past year) .

You can download the workbook from Tikkun here and then click on first pdf file or try directly by clicking hhd2010.pdf

Image is Teshuva by Pat Allen from Art is a Spiritual Path

Saturday, 4 September 2010


Welcome back as a new term at Queen's approaches and I prepare to head up the M1 to a Welcoming Service for a Student - who begins her ministry in Leeds at the start of this new year in the Methodist Calender - I thought I would return to blogging and flag up some of the upcoming events this Autumn and also some of the happenings over the Summer.

The Spycam debacle that I referred to in a previous post has continued running over the Summer with new revelations about the inappropriate and duplicitous nature of the process. A meeting organised by the West Midlands Police Authority in at the Boardsley Centre at the beginning of August, that was due to help heal rifts between the community and the police seemed to me to do the exact opposite! Check out the latest on the Spycam campaign at including a report by Steve Jolly and videos of last month's meeting.

The Methodist Report and Conference resolutions on Justice for Palestine and Israel has continued to have an impact upon Christian engagement with the issue and there have been movements towards dialogue about the report between local Methodists and the Jewish community in particular. At next Saturday's synod I intend to outline how I see us as a District working towards the call of conference to 'engage in respectful dialogue with Jews and Muslims on this issue'

After having a month off from preaching in the circuits I'm back on the road next Sunday in the Birmingham West and Oldbury Circuit. I'm running a number of courses and groups this autumn in the Asbury and Elmden Circuits and a number of one off workshops including one for preachers in Evesham and one for the Regional Evangelists and Missioners Network. There is a healthy number of students on the 2nd year course on Christianity in Dialogue at Queen's. We hope also to launch a new course in the Spring term on 'The Common Good in Christianity and Islam' with students from Queen's and the Islamic Al Mahdi Institute working together on the module. Richard Sudworth will be co-tutoring with me and tutors from Al Mahdi. I will also be working with Celia Blackden of the Inter Faith Office of Churches Together in England on a proposed National Conference hosted in Birmingham in March 2011 on 'Faith Hope and Love - Christian Discipleship in a Multi Faith World' - watch this space for further details.

Lastly I would like to flag up an interesting new resource that Richard drew my attention to from the Fuller Theological Seminary in the USA. Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue is a new online Journal available on free download which affirms the exciting developments I've talked of before in the more open section of the evangelical wing of the church that helps break the dualistic split in some understandings of Christian discipleship between witness and dialogue and the tired old categories of liberal and conservative theological positions on interfaith - check it out!