Thursday, 27 December 2012


Riaz Ravat's First Person column appears in today's Leicester Mercury (but not on the website):
A tribute to the power of shared values
Riaz Ravat looks back over an eventful year that has brought faith communities closer together
This year will surely go down as one of the most remarkable in the history of the UK. On a spring day in March , Leicester paid a colourful and vibrant tribute to the Queen on the first stop of her Diamond Jubilee tour. The royal party was treated to a show that will live long in the memory.
The Church of England is interwoven into the fabric of this country and the leadership shown by the Diocese of Leicester, with Leicester Cathedral as the centrepiece, enabled a mosaic of faith communities to join in the celebrations to show they too are firmly rooted in the identity of this country.
2012 as also marked as the Year of Service. Launched in January, the initiative encouraged faith communities to work collectively to deliver charity efforts to needy causes.
"Confirm us in service to the world of humanity so that we may become the servants of Thy servants, that we may love all they creatures and become compassionate to all thy people."
These words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the eldest son and successor of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, were delivered in 1912 and it was fitting the Bahá'í community was instrumental in launching a year of service.
One of the many points to note from the release of the 2011 Census is how the definition of "minority" is being redrawn locally.
The presence of smaller groups, such as the Bahá'í and Jewish communities, poses challenges to larger communities and defines the true meaning of a decent and progressive society. The challenge is how we enable these minorities to express their confidence and to contribute their fullest, to the life of the city, county and country.
Throughout the year, we witnessed Bahá'ís, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and those of no professed religions belief coming together for the selfless service of others.
Whether this motivation is inspired by God, political doctrine or human concern, we must begin to address what wee mean by  shared values, purposes and the nature of "good", not only for today's world, but for tomorrow's.
As we reflect on service, let us not forget the dedication and decency of the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
The impact of the General Synod voting against female Bishops is not restricted to the Church of England. Far from observing these developments, those from other persuasions must now take stock and ask, how much longer will we accept the gap between the principle and practice of equality?
The spiritual richness of service and compassion which faith communities possess, undergirded by their respective "golden rules", is all too often tainted by humanity's thirst for selective salvation.
Riaz Ravat is deputy director at St Philip's Centre, Leicester

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