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Ordinands' Annual School in Bradford

02/07/2012

Ordinands' Annual School in Bradford

The face of religion in Britain has changed tremendously in the course of the last half century. The phrase ‘multi-faith Britain’ is used increasingly and we decided that Bradford would be a good place to immerse ourselves in something of the cultural and religious diversity that these changes have brought about. An organisation called Bradford Churches for Dialogue and Diversity prepared our programme and arranged for us to meet with a wide range of experts in their fields.

At the start of a busy week of visits, talks and activities, we were treated by a Pakistani Christian family to the first of five curries. We helped to organise a Big Lunch street party at which the food and the people just kept on appearing – the Parable of the Feeding of the 5,000 came to mind – and we went on a Prayer Walk, stopping off at various sites of religious significance. We met Idris, a white British Imam from Essex who was brought up in a Christian family, Zahida who works on issues concerning Islam and gender, and a woman who was brought up as a Muslim and who has taken the brave (and risky) step of converting to Christianity. We visited one of Bradford’s 80+ mosques and a Sikh Gudwara, where we met a family with their four delightful and very musical children, all of whom were prodigies on their instruments. Here we heard a little about the religious practices of the Sikh faith and shared in a ‘langar’, the traditional meal that is always offered to visitors to a Gudwara.

Spending even just a few days immersed in real life settings soon reveals something of the assumptions and interpretations that we all bring to issues of faith and culture. Meeting people from diverse backgrounds helped us to appreciate something of the richness of Britain’s pluralistic society; it also challenged us to ask some important questions about the distinctiveness of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ and about the role of Christian mission today. We hope that experiencing even a little of Bradford’s authentic faith and cultural communities has helped us to become better reflective practitioners in a multi-faith context. And all five curries were delicious!

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