May this year saw the 20th anniversary of the founding of Altrincham Interfaith Group and to celebrate this landmark an Anniversary Tea Party was organised to be held on May14th at Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College. It was to be a Bring and Share event with all the faith groups contributing plates of sandwiches and cakes. It was a great success with masses of food and a really happy atmosphere as this was the first time a large number of people in AIG had met together since the beginning of Covid. After a welcome from the AIG Chair, Dr Kaushik Chakraborty, the Mayor of Trafford, Councillor Chris Boyes, gave a greeting and after prayers from founder members of the group the tea began. Guest speaker Iftikhar Awan, another founder member, gave an address in which he described how the group began, and Vice-Chair Elinor Chohan gave a moving speech about the future of our Interfaith group. We are most grateful to Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College for the use of their premises and especially to Laura Hussain, School Events and Communications Co-ordinator, for facilitating this.
Carolyn Jones (Honorary Secretary, Altrincham Interfaith Group)
This year we were very privileged in having Professor Geoff Levermore of the University of Manchester as our speaker for the Alf Keeling Memorial Lecture. He has been researching the effects of climate change and was the UK lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report which was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2007. The subject of his talk was Climate Change, Religion and Ethics.
Over 80 people attended the lecture at St Ambrose Preparatory School in Hale Barns as Professor Levermore explained very clearly the causes of climate change and how Global Warming had now reached such an extent that it would not be possible to achieve the aim of a maximum 1.5° increase in temperature by 2050 and that this was due almost entirely to human activity. Instead, we are on track for a 2.9°C rise which could be reduced to 2.1°C if the net zero plan is implemented. With graphs showing very significant rises in emissions since the industrial revolution, he explained how the composition of the air thousands of years ago could be analysed by using cores of arctic ice that had air bubbles trapped inside, and this compared with modern samples.
The heat islands generated by cities and new tower blocks were also a cause for concern and we need to transform our cities and also cut down on the use of fossil fuels, especially in China which is currently one of the worst offenders. At present, our energy use is the equivalent of 1,800,000 Hiroshima bombs a day, EVERY DAY.
The option of changing lifestyles to mitigate effects was discussed but few people are prepared to do this, and this led on to the issue of religion and what the holy books say about climate change and to ideas about the nature of God, especially as espoused by Professor Gordon Kaufman (1925-2011) who proposed considering God as “creativity,” a concept that excludes no major religious faith.
Finally, Professor Levermore discussed moral and ethical aspects, and the importance of altruistic morality – the best form of morality which involves doing things for people we do not know. He concluded by stressing the importance of immediate and rapid change, and that it is our moral duty to assist in this as much as possible.
There was a lively question and answer session afterwards and refreshments were served following the talk. We are sincerely grateful to St Ambrose Preparatory School for the use of their hall and thank everyone who helped to make this event such a success.
(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)
Over 60 people gathered at Westleigh, St Vincent’s Church, Altrincham, for this event initiated by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. A panel of four representatives from the Hindu (Dr Girdari Lal Bhan), Jewish (Rabbi Warren Elf), Christian (Professor James Holt of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)) and Muslim (Imam Mohammad Khurshid) communities each spoke about Freedom of Speech from the perspective of their faith.
Although they all raised different points, there was one message in common which could be summarised as follows: be tolerant of others and do not impose views if you think they will cause hurt, although it is right to speak up to pursue righteousness.
After a break for refreshments, there followed a lively question and answer session covering topics including the problematic issue of gender, the right to protest, and the attack on Salman Rushdie. The importance of face-to-face discussion was emphasised as opposed to the use of social media to stir up hate.
It was an interesting and stimulating evening, and good to be able to meet in person again.
(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)
Altrincham Interfaith Group send deepest condolences to King Charles and the Royal Family on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. We give thanks for her long service, her leadership and her Faith.