The Altrincham Interfaith Group was officially launched in May 2003, at the United Reformed Church on Cecil Road Hale. The Group brought together representatives from the Buddhist community, Hale Churches Together, Altrincham Christians Together, Timperley Churches Together, Altrincham Muslim Association, Altrincham Unitarians, Hale Synagogue, Bowdon Synagogue, Menorah Synagogue, Manchester Reform Synagogue, Shaare Hayim Sephardi Synagogue and the World Council of Hindus. Recently, representatives of the Church of the Latter-day Saints and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association joined the committee, the latter in particular indicating the degree of tolerance shown by this community, and we also have Sikh and Baha’i members.
The Altrincham Interfaith Group was set up to bring together the major faith groups in the area, to help improve knowledge and understanding of one another, to develop friendships between people of the different faiths, and to work together to make a positive contribution to the development of the community in Altrincham.
Our vision is of developing a cohesive community, where there is no fear of the ‘the other’ and at times of tension, nationally or internationally, the community can remain together and work together to ensure those tensions do not impact the peace and harmony of our town.
To realise our vision, we organise a range of activities and events.
Friendship Circles are made up of about eight people of different faiths who meet in one another’s homes, initially perhaps three or four times a year. The purpose of these meetings is to develop friendships between local people of different faiths, in a relaxed environment to gain insights into one another’s traditions, and to discuss lifestyles and spiritual outlooks. There are several established Friendship Circles that have helped break down barriers by enabling people to get to know one another and exchange knowledge about their faith.
If you are interested in joining a Friendship Circle please contact us.
SUMMER PICNIC IN TATTON PARK
In late June or early July each year we have a picnic in Tatton Park, next to Tatton Mere. Each person or family brings along food for themselves, and some to share. We then sit together in groups and enjoy one another’s company and food. We also organise games for the children. We are generally blessed with wonderful weather.
VISITS TO PLACES OF WORSHIP
In order to understand one another’s forms of worship and see places of worship, we arrange visits to different places of worship. In recent years these have included a mosque, mandir, gurduwara, Synagogue, and churches of different denominations. These always prove to be real eye-openers, and provide a perspective on both similarities and differences between the faiths.
EXHIBITION OF ART & ARTEFACTS
Each faith has its own artefacts related to its worship, and art related to its faith traditions. We have arranged an exhibition of art and artefacts a couple of times. With these we have held workshops for children to teach them some basics of the arts.
EVENING OF ENTERTAINMENT
We have held a number of Evenings of Entertainment. One was focussed on music, dance and performance. At another we had story-telling, poetry and song. On one occasion we had talks and performances to show marriage traditions in each faith. These evenings have proved to be educational and highly entertaining.
ANNUAL SHARED MEAL
In February each year we arrange a shared meal at which each faith community brings along food, and people sit together on tables with members of each faith to enable dialogue in a relaxed setting. We also have a guest speaker from one of the faiths and the Mayor of Trafford. The dinners are very popular and the two hundred tickets are snapped up very quickly. The funds raised support the Group’s work, and some are donated to local charities.
One of the ways of learning about other faiths is to get a panel of experts to present and then ask them questions. Two such panels we have organised include “My faith in 15 minutes” and “Question Time”. This has allowed people to get an overview of each faith but also provided an opportunity to ask those burning and sometimes difficult questions.
Every year (bar one) since the Group was set up we have participated in the Altrincham Festival with a float. We have had different themes each year (e.g. peace, sunshine). The float is put together by the different faith groups, and we have children sitting (safely) on the float. Each year we have won a prize for our float.
Want to know more or join us?
Then e-mail us at : firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit our website : www.altrincham-interfaith.org.uk