Witnessing Together for Peace

On 7th December, the Columban Missionaries together with the Focolare Movement led an Interfaith evening of prayers and reflections for peace at St Anne's RC Church, on behalf of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. More than 70 people gathered in this inner-city church on a rainy and cold evening to listen to and meditate on extracts from sacred texts and prayers from diverse religious traditions.

The evening commenced with the reading of a poem entitled ‘Peace Will Come’ from Genrosso (Concert for Peace), which set the scene for listening to readings and prayers from members of the Muslim, Baha’i, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, and the World Peace Federation communities, interspersed with moments of silence and music.

After the prayers, participants were invited to read aloud the following Act of Commitment (from the Interfaith Network) while holding a small candle. These small candles would then illuminate a visual aid with a 3D large-size word “PEACE” at its centre.

We commit ourselves,
as people of many faiths,
to work together for the common good,
uniting to build a better society,
grounded in values and ideals we share:
personal integrity,
a sense of right and wrong,
learning, wisdom and love of truth,
care and compassion,
justice and peace,
respect for one another,
for the earth and its creatures.
We commit ourselves,
in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,
to work together
alongside all who share our values and ideals,
to help bring about a better world
now and for generations to come.

Mahmooda Qureshi, a local Muslim leader, commented after the vigil, “It was such a beautiful vigil and so needed in these deeply troubled times. May God accept all our prayers for peace and justice throughout the land!”

Violet Owen, a Baha’i leader, said, “It was a privilege to have the opportunity to take part in the vigil. It was so beautifully organized with lovely music weaving in and out of the readings. Thank you for organizing this spiritually uplifting event”.

Canon Dr Andrew Smith, director of interfaith relations for the Anglican Bishop of Birmingham, thanked the organizers for “this important and beautiful evening of readings from across the faiths”. Dr Smith mentioned the vigil at a meeting of interfaith leaders hosted at Buckingham Palace by Kind Charles III. Referring to the vigil, he added: “When you’re hurting you do something really gentle.”

Columban Missionaries promote life-giving relationships among people of all faiths and none. In these challenging times, we acknowledge and condemn the suffering of so many innocent victims in Israel and Palestine. We are committed to stand alongside all the victims of the senseless acts of violence intensified in the Middle East since 7th October. We are also committed to reinforcing the existing good relations among communities in Birmingham and across the UK.

We pray that the celebration of Christmas may help each person of goodwill to become an active instrument of God’s peace and justice, both in their private and public life.

Join us in praying for peace this Christmas

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Intercessions for Christmas 2023