An Evening of Cultural Entertainment, Thursday 6th July

 

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Altrincham Interfaith Group visit to St Peter’s Church, Hale, May 10th, 2017.

It was a beautiful Spring evening when over 40 members of Altrincham Faith Group, comprising various faith traditions, descended on St Peter’s Church, Hale, as the guests of the Minister Rev. Keith Addenbrooke and his congregants, to learn about the history of the Church and its traditions.

We were given a very warm welcome, and Rev. Keith began his talk by describing some of the meanings of the word “church” before telling us about the history of the actual building itself – how the coming of the Cheshire Midland Railway meant that the area around Peel Causeway station was ripe for urbanisation and local people therefore got together to build a place of worship. Meetings began in 1889 and the foundation stone was laid on November 29th 1890, with St Peter’s Church being finally dedicated in 1892. He went on to describe the Church’s “DNA” – various key events that characterised the church which now can be said to be “middle of the road” as far as the spectrum from low to high church is concerned. He then showed us various features of the church – the candles and processing cross which had recently come from St John’s Church, now closed, and the platform which was put in in 2011 and allowed the minister to engage more fully with the congregation. We were invited to walk around in order to admire the many beautiful features of St Peter’s – the stained glass windows depicting angels, the marble pulpit and golden lectern in the form of an angel. After a lively question and answer session we were invited to the adjoining building where a lavish spread of cake and biscuits (including kosher varieties), fruit, and hot and cold drinks were laid out for us, and people could sit down together and chat. The evening closed with the AIG Chairman, Gordon Levy, giving a vote of thanks.

It was a delightful and informative evening and we are most grateful to Rev. Keith Addenbrooke for hosting the event and to the congregants for their kind and generous hospitality, especially for providing kosher biscuits and milk which was much appreciated by the Jewish members of the group.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)

 

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Annual Shared Meal on 11th February 2017

Altrincham Interfaith Group Shared Meal Success

Once again, Altrincham Interfaith Group showed that it is possible for people of many faiths to get together, share food and have a really great time. On Saturday 11th February, around 150 people enjoyed the Annual Shared Meal at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. The evening was led by Gordon Levy, Chair of Altrincham Interfaith Group, with guest speaker the Worshipful the Mayor of the Borough of Trafford, Councillor Judith Lloyd, who was accompanied by the Mayoress, Ms Noelle Ryder. Representing Trafford Police was Inspector Faz Naman and his partner Ann Cooper-Poole. The Mayor addressed the group, saying that the best way to break down barriers was by listening and talking to each other, and that the work of Altrincham Interfaith Group needed to be replicated across Trafford. Interfaith teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters, we are all linked together, and she thanked the group for all that they do, which hopefully will stop anything like what is happening in the USA from occurring here. People shared Kosher food prepared by the Jewish community, curries from the Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association, vegetarian dishes prepared by Hindus, a delicious selection of samosas from the Ahmadiyya community, topped off by a vast selection of fantastic desserts prepared by the Christian and Unitarian churches in the area – a truly grand spread! In this time of division and hate across the world, it was very uplifting to see so many people participating in such a united and happy event.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)

 

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Altrincham Interfaith Group Interfaith Week event: visit to the Shaare Sedek Synagogue.

Our visit to the new Sephardi synagogue in Hale Barns, Shaare Sedek, was one of the most successful organised by Altrincham Interfaith Group., with over 100 people attending. It was made especially noteworthy by the warm welcome we received from Rabbi Amir Ellituv and his congregation, and the beauty of the new building which had only been open for one month. During the visit, Rabbi Amir described the history of the Sephardi Jews in Manchester and also that of the congregation in Hale Barns which resulted from the merger of two Sephardi congregations in Didsbury. Some features of the synagogue – the three everlasting lights hanging in front of the Ark, and the two beautiful stained glass windows – were originally from those synagogues. The Bimmah, or raised platform in the centre of the synagogue from where the Rabbi would address the congregation during a service, also combined features of the old synagogues, with delicately patterned metalwork. The ceiling was of special note, being gently curved with symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel depicted in the centres of many “Shields of David” in natural wood, blue paint and gold leaf.

What was striking, however, was the commonality between features here and those pertaining to the Muslim tradition – women covered their hair, worship was conducted facing Jerusalem, and the names of the great teachers from the Old Testament – Joseph, Moses etc. This was commented on by many Muslims who attended, who seemed genuinely interested in the proceedings.

We were shown around the synagogue and then treated to refreshments of delicious cakes and savouries before Azhar Rasul gave a vote of thanks, thanking the Rabbi and his congregation for a wonderful visit.


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Talk on Zoroastrianism September 15th 2016

On Thursday September 15th about 35 friends of Altrincham Interfaith Group gathered in Westleigh, adjoining St Vincent’s Church in Altrincham, to hear Burjor, Zarin and Rushna Avari talk about their religion, Zoroastrianism. After a prayer said by the family, Dr Burjor Avari, who teaches multiculturalism at Manchester Metropolitan University, began by talking about the history of the religion, which features the teachings of Zoroaster who lived around 600-1000BC in eastern Iran. He was one of the first people to teach monotheism, and to dismiss all the Indo-Aryan gods that had been worshipped before. Their supreme being was called Ahura Mazda which means “The Wise Lord.” But there is also an evil spirit called Ahriman who represents the spirit of evil in all of us. These two primal spirits are depicted as being in conflict in our minds, and we have to ensure that it is the good spirit that is uppermost. Burjor followed the history of the followers of Zoroaster from Iran to India after the Muslim conquest of Iran, where they prospered, and integrated well with the other communities there. Some later returned to Iran but after 1979 when the Ayatollah took over, they fled to the UK and the USA. Now only about 150,000 Zoroastrians survive in the world, where they are mostly engaged in businesses and are generally known as Parsis or Parsees.

Then Rushna, Burjor’s daughter, spoke to us about the ethics of the religion, and the importance of following the right path, with moderation in all things. She described the many charities that are funded in the UK and India by members of the religion, and also the importance of caring for the environment and animals. Harmony of living is a key factor.

Following that, Mrs Zarin Avari spoke about the various ceremonies that are carried out: the Fire Temples where a fire is always kept burning, the initiation ceremonies of boys and girls, and marriage and funeral rites. Funerals were often carried out in Towers of Silence in India, which are large, stone towers. The body is taken there by corpse-bearers and left for the vultures to eat, but in the UK people are cremated or buried. New Year celebrations, held on March 21st, were described, and the special dishes that are prepared for that occasion which involve items such as apple (beauty, fruits of the world), garlic (good health and peace), lentils (rebirth), pomegranate (sweetness) etc, which Mrs Avari had kindly brought along in their ceremonial containers for us to see.

There were several questions and a lively discussion after the talk, which was much enjoyed by everybody.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon., Sec. Altrincham Interfaith Group)

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