To the University of Leicester, Percy Gee Building (aka Students' Union) this afternoon. We're supporting our friends in the International Chaplaincy with their display at the International Student Welcome Programme. I helped put up all nine banners from our exhibition in Queen's Hall, upstairs in Percy Gee on Monday morning for a couple of days of fairly relaxed engagement with new arrivals from overseas. Today everything has relocated downstairs into the O2 Academy for this more intensive marketplace event.
As well as providing information about the diverse faith communities in Leicester, we're helping offer a more personal service today, by helping students newly arrived in the city find an appropriate community with which to become involved or an accessible place of worship. I've brought with me our list of places of worship in Leicester and it helps us find the right places for a number of students who have arrived here from abroad. This printed list has been in use since 2004 (long before my arrival at Leicester Council of Faiths). Today I realise for the first time that it doesn't include any Roman Catholic churches. How can that have escaped everyone's notice for seven years? And if it has been noticed, why on earth are we still using it?
Something else I notice today is that some students who have come here from other parts of the world where they have not been used to freedom of expression and of thought appear to look on the opportunity to experiment with religion or belief the way we might more traditionally have thought of students experimenting with sex and drugs and rock’n’roll. Interesting thought …
In the photo: Council of Faiths banners on the International Chaplaincy display - Nightline Bear and friend in the foreground.