Multi faith walks and pilgrimages and faith trails
A number of local inter faith organisations hold inter faith ‘pilgrimages’, ‘peace walks’ and other walks where people of different faiths and beliefs walk together, often visiting places of worship along the way.
These have a dimension of shared witness and display to the community around of unity and friendship.
“It is incredibly important for people of all faiths and none to get to understand and respect the beliefs of others. Respecting others helps in building a society where everyone is valued. One important step in this process is meeting people or visiting a place of worship and seeing and hearing how others try to find God and how their beliefs and practices are incredibly precious to them.” LANCASHIRE FORUM OF FAITHS
A number of local inter faith organisations hold inter faith ‘pilgrimages’, ‘peace walks’ and other walks where people of different faiths and beliefs walk together, often visiting places of worship along the way. These have a dimension of shared witness and display to the community around of unity and friendship.
The walks and pilgrimages usually stop at different places of worship in their areas. That gives people a chance to learn about their neighbours’ faiths and to explore the buildings that are so important to them.
‘Faith trails’ are trails, often with a locally produced map and guide, which enable visitors to go individually or as groups to visit different places of worship. These are a great way for members of the public and for particular groups such as school children to experience something of the richness and variety of faith communities in their localities. As part of the trail visitors may be invited for a tour and a short talk, to witness a service, prayer or ceremony, or simply to look around. Bolton and Preston are two places with such trails.
Multifaith Pilgrimage for Peace – Westminster Interfaith
One of the most long-standing multi faith pilgrimages in the country is that held each year in June by Westminster Interfaith, the agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue. The Multifaith Pilgrimage for Peace, began in 1985. The pilgrimage unites people of faith by visiting places of worship and other sites of significance. Its purpose is to promote peace and resist division.
One attendee’s experience of the Pilgrimage for Peace can be read here: https://www.peacenews.info/node/5915/my-day-pilgrimage
Annual Inter Faith Walks – South London Interfaith Group
South London Interfaith Group was another pioneer of inter faith walks, and has been holding annual walks since 1997. The walks are held across boroughs in South London, encompassing many places of worship from a range of faith communities over the years. The walks give members of the group an annual opportunity to visit new places of worship, to engage new constituencies, and to learn more about one another’s religious beliefs and traditions. The group has also produced guidance on organising an inter faith walk, which can be downloaded here: http://www.southlondoninterfaith.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/IF-walk-guidance.pdf.
More information can be found at http://www.southlondoninterfaith.org.uk/annual-inter-faith-walks/
Faith Trails – Bolton Interfaith Council
Bolton Interfaith Council runs regular faith trails’ for schools, community groups and others. The faith trails visit a number of places of worship in the town. They are organised in partnership with the Bolton Council of Mosques, the Bolton Hindu Forum, Bolton Christian Cohesion and others. The trails include workshops, introductory talks or the opportunity to observe prayers or services. They are held on request all year round, as well as during Inter Faith Week.
More information about Bolton Interfaith Council’s faith trails can be found at http://www.boltoninterfaithcouncil.org.uk/10.html.
Preston Faith Forum
Preston Faith Forum has published a map of places of worship in the city, allowing members of the public to design their own ‘faith trail’. It includes fourteen places of worship from the Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh traditions and is designed to provide an insight into history, beliefs and practices of these.
The Faith Forum also provides guided tours of places of worship for groups, members of the public, organisations and schools.
The map can be downloaded at https://www.prestonfaithforum.org/faith-trail/.
Liverpool Community Spirit – Footsteps of Faith App
To encourage members of the public to explore places of worship in the city, Liverpool Community Spirit and partners have created a ‘Footsteps of Faith’ app. The app can be used to find places of worship in the city near your location, along with photos, background information and relevant audio interviews. The app could also be used as a basis for organising a faith trail.
For more information, and to find out how to downloaded the app, visit http://www.footstepsoffaith.co.uk/
Watford Interfaith Association – Interfaith Pilgrimage
Annually during national Inter Faith Week, Watford Interfaith Association holds its ‘Interfaith Pilgrimage’. The pilgrimage brings together association members, members of local faith communities and the public to walk, talk, share food and visit places of worship in the town. The pilgrimage in 2017 featured visits to the Hindu Temple, the Synagogue, the Central Mosque, a Roman Catholic Church and the Gurdwara.
More information about the pilgrimage can be found at http://www.wifa.org.uk/interfaith-pilgrimages/
‘Faith Walks’ – Bristol Multi Faith Forum
For Inter Faith Week 2016 Bristol Multi Faith Forum organised ‘Faith Walks’, a day of walking including a series of visits to places of worship across Bristol.
The tour included visits to the Hindu Temple, the Baha’i meeting house, a Baptist Church, the Central Mosque, the Progressive Synagogue and the Sikh Gurdwara. A short talk was heard at each place of worship, including a short question and answer session and refreshments. The day provided an opportunity for members of the public to increase their understanding of the different and distinct faith communities in Bristol, to meet and learn from one another and to ask questions.
More information, including photographs from the day, can be found at bristolmultifaithforum.org.uk/galleries/faith-walk-2016/.
Bristol also holds an annual ‘Open Doors’ day which sees different places of worship in the city opening to the public.
Edinburgh Interfaith Association - Peace Walk
Edinburgh Interfaith Association organises an annual ‘peace walk’ that visits a variety of places of worship in the city. It describes the walks as an opportunity to stand against division, to promote peace and harmony in the city and to bring people together.
Among the places that have been visited are the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Baha’i Centre, the Hindu Mandir, Annandale Street Mosque, the Kagyu Samya Dzong Centre, the Sikh Gurdwara and the Synagogue.
More information about Edinburgh Interfaith Association, including the annual peace walk, can be found at https://www.edinburghinterfaith.com/.
Visitor etiquette at places of worship
Most people are delighted to welcome visitors in to their places of worship. In most instances there are, however, a number of things to be aware of:
- Liaise in advance with the places of worship to ensure that a planned visit is received well and that they can provide someone to welcome and guide and that they can let you have well in advance any points of etiquette and details on accessibility that may be needed.
- If you have any requirements or special needs, let the faith community you are visiting know in advance so that adequate preparation can be made.
- Be aware of any guidelines on clothing and behaviour when visiting particular places of worship so as not to cause offence. Make sure you are aware of these in advance of the visit and make preparations accordingly.
- Avoid talking loudly, so as not to disturb or interrupt any prayers or services taking place at the time of the visit.
- Always ask before taking any photographs so as to avoid causing offence.
- Ask questions sensitively and thoughtfully.
- Give some thought in advance to how you and other visitors in your group feel about things like joining in services or receiving blessed food. If you have particular points about your ability to participate, explain these courteously in advance.
This guidance draws upon material found in the 2007 edition of Religions in the UK: A Directory, produced by the Multi Faith Centre at the University of Derby in partnership with the Inter Faith Network for the UK (http://multifaithcentre.org/resources/).
- The Faith Encounter project has produced Crossing the Threshold, a resource to accompany the ‘Faith Guiding’ course, which organises and facilitates visits to places of worship. The resource includes examples, advice on good practice and information about visiting places of worship. More information about the programme can be found at www.faithencounter.org.uk/index.html.
- The Local Inter Faith Guide, IFN 2005, www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/the-local-inter-faith-guide-faith-community-co-operation-in-action-second-e contains some relevant information and case studies. A new edition of the guide is forthcoming.
- South London Inter Faith Group has produced guidance on organising a faith trail of your own. It can be downloaded here: http://www.southlondoninterfaith.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/IF-walk-guidance.pdf.