Monday, 19 November 2012


Today is the first day of our week-long exhibition in Highcross for Inter Faith Week. First volunteers are Barbara Butler (of Christians Aware) and Allan Hayes (from Leicester Secular Society). There they are in the photo above, either side of me. For the first time, we have literature from both Christians Aware and Leicester Secular Society on display.

The photo was taken by John Coster of Citizens' Eye. He and Tina Barton (of Somewhere_To) are early visitors. I should have tucked my shirt in - but I'd just finished putting the exhibition together and was a wee bit more dishevelled than I would have liked.

Our very first visitors, though, are a couple who want to know why Pagans aren't represented in the exhibition. I give them a flier and ask them to put their query in writing so that the Council of Faiths can respond properly.

This is the fourth year running that we’ve been asked to put on this display in Highcross. After we’d been bumped up to First Class last year in terms of location and space, we’re pretty much back where we were in 2009 and 2010. That’s fine though – if it felt a bit more special last year, that's because it was our 25th anniversary. We couldn’t have that space this year anyway because it's being used for a special promotion:  let’s face it, nothing says “Christmas” like a Mini Cooper dressed up as Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Anne Fishenden (member of Leicester Quakers and Chair of Leicester SACRE - Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education) and Narendra Waghela (from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir) volunteer on the display in the early afternoon.

I have to stand in for a couple of unscheduled hours in the afternoon when both volunteers for one slot cancel on account of illness. I should be at St Paul's Catholic School in Evington for their Sixth Form Philosophy Panel, but they'll have enough participants to go round. I phone the school with my apologies of course.

During these two hours I have interesting chats with a Christian couple who had seen a couple of lines about it being Inter Faith Week in the parish notes at church yesterday and had set out today to find evidence of it and with a pair of Iraqi fellows who recommended some adjustments to Highcross's Faith Room.

Deirdre O'SullivanStephen Foster and Clare Carr (photo below) help out on the display, late afternoon and early evening. Deirdre is Lecturer in Archaeology the University of Leicester School's of Archaeology and Ancient History, which produced the Mapping Faith and Place in Leicester and the Leicester Faith Trail, the banners and booklets for which we have here this week; Stephen is Co-ordinating Chaplain at the University of Leicester Chaplaincy; Clare was of great help to the Council of Faiths for years when she was Schools Worker with Global Education Leicester-Shire.

One innovation on the exhibition this year is our little white tree, on which visitors and volunteers are invited to hang their hopes, dreams, prayers and wishes for themselves, for friends and family, for Leicester or for the wider world. Clare has spent several hours making labels with ribbon and I've put out a nice multi-coloured collection of Sharpies. Here's a selection of what some people write on the labels and hung on the tree:
Things can only get better! *lol*
Living in Leicester is a global experience! I am part of the world family of Faiths ... it's a good thing!
Love Leicester: United Nations in Leicester
In loving memory of Paul. Friend and husband of Denise. Sleep well xxx
I hope all religions have a good relation and peace
"Beyond our ideas of right and wrong, being is a field - I will meet you there" - Rumi
A hope and a prayer - that the children of the world will be healthy, happy and loved
I pray that one day soon there will be peace amongst all nations and faiths

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