Faithful Friends

Faithful Friends

Building Friendships between people of different faiths and none in Forest Gate

Faithful Friends

2016 Peace Walk

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People from all walks of life enjoyed getting together on Saturday 20th February for the first ever Forest Gate Peace Walk. Not put off by the rain, around 100 people took part, including local councillors, religious leaders and the neighbourhood police. The walk was organised by Faithful Friends, an interfaith group based in Forest Gate, to give people an opportunity to deepen and celebrate their friendships across different faith communities in the area. The short walk of around one and a half miles took in eight different places of worship, including Sunni and Shia Mosques, and Protestant and Catholic Churches, finishing at the Sikh Gurdwara. As Rev Dr Chigor Chike, Director of Faithful Friends told people: "It is important that we use every opportunity to show that we all share a common humanity. In every religion there are people committed to peace. When we walk like we are doing today, we show such commitment to the community."

The idea for this event came from a newly formed women's group of Faithful Friends. Thinking about the acts of violence around the world prompted the women to tell the community a different story: that it is possible for people of different faiths to live alongside one another peacefully.

The cheerful band of damp pilgrims enjoyed wonderful hospitality along the way, made new friends and some found it 'a deeply spiritual experience.' People learnt some history about the places of worship, how faith groups work for the community and what things are important to different religions. Mr Rafiq Patel told people about the educational work that Minhaj Ul Quran is doing as part of the Mosque's wider effort to fight extremism. Others who spoke to the group during the walk include Sheikh Abdul Karim of Green Street Mosque, Rev Bruce Stokes of Woodgrange Baptist Church, Mr Israr Shah of Imamia Mission Mosque, Imam Khalil Laher of Upton Lane Mosque and Fr John Moloney of St Antony's Roman Catholic Church.

The group finished with a special meal together at the Sikh Gurdwara where they were welcomed by the President of the Gurdwara Mr Baldev Singh Sehmbi. Later, Mr Tarlok Singh Sura, a member of the Gurdwara, commended the walkers, noting that the promotion of peace is a worthy cause and the numbers that turned up showed the high level of commitment.

The police were struck by how relaxed and friendly the event was and Councillor Shah of Newham Council remarked on the great community spirit and said how privileged she was to be part of the walk. People are hoping this becomes a regular community event, but perhaps in the Spring or Summer next time!

Photos © David Mbiyu