Notes of the Committee meeting held on 1 November 2017

Present: George Mazidian, Duncan Struthers, Bernard Omar, Graham Davey Apologies: Mark Behard, Chris Steer

We met in the cafe of the Barton Hill Settlement.
It was noisy at first but became satisfactory later as a meeting place for the four of us.

Past meeting:

Raja Ram Mohan Roy on 19th October.
All agreed this had been an excellent meeting thanks to Carla Contractor's clear talk and answers to questions.

Future events

Midwinter Circle
This has been arranged for 7.30 p.m. on Thursday 30th November at the Unitarian Meeting House, Brunswick Square, BS2 8PE
In the absence of any good ideas for a new name for the event we agreed to advertise it as the Midwinter Circle.
The theme would be 'Festivals' and faith communities would be invited to send representatives to speak briefly about the festivals
celebrated in their community and to bring samples of traditional food they would eat

Civic Celebration
Graham said he had succeeded in identifying the dates of religious festivals in March 2018 and would send preferred dates for the Celebration to Peter Watts, the Lord Mayor's Secretary together with the possible themes as suggested
by the joint planning group set up by BMFF and BIFG.
These were:
Stories of Faith Communities' Contributions to the City
Our Vision of Bristol in 25 Years' Time
Inter-Faith Tools for Trying Times

Other events suggested were
A meeting to hear one or more representatives of the Jewish synagogues in Bristol speak on how they see reconciliation
and peace being achieved between Israelis and Palestinians.
A meeting to hear one or more people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause speak on how they see reconciliation
and peace being achieved between Israelis and Palestinians.
A visit to the Chaldean Eastern Christian Church with Tom Aditya

Date of Next Meeting

This will be in January and decided by e-mail so that more members of the Committee can be involved.

Graham Davey (Secretary)

Notes of our meeting on 13th July

Present: George Mazidian, Samina Aslam, Marie Hackett, James Hackett, Mark Behard,
Duncan Struthers, Graham Davey

Past events
A meeting of members of the BIFG committee and representatives of the Bristol Multi-Faith Forum (BMFF)
had taken place on 20 June and it had been agreed that the Lord Mayor's Civic IF Celebration
should be organised by a special group set up for that purpose and consisting of key members of
different faith communities who had had some connection with the Celebration in past years.
A number of names had been sent to Tracey Lewis, chair of BMFF but we were told that she was very
busy and had not had time to reply yet.

A useful open meeting had taken place at the Hindu Temple on 5th July where we were welcomed by
Panditji and watched or participated in the Aarti ceremony of honouring various gods.
This was followed by a prresentation by Panditji and answers to many questions concerning
lifestyle and Hinduism. The meeting deserved a much larger attendance than the 8 of us who were present.


Thursday 4th May at 7.30 p.m. at the Assisi Centre, Lawford's Gate, BS5 0RE.
Fr. Richard McKay, priest in charge of St Nicholas of Tolentino Roman Catholic Church,
together with members of the parish, told the story of the support given to refugees, asylum seekers
and other marginalised people in recent years.
Sadly there was a poor turnout, with no no-Christian people attending.

Lord Mayor's Annual Inter Faith Celebration

On Thursday March 30 at the Civic Hall, College Green

The theme this year was "Inter-Faith Understanding and Co-operaion".

There was a reasonable attendance with several notable personalities present for the first time. These included The Lord Mayor Elect, who stated her intention to continue the celebration in 2018 once again at City Hall where there is space to mingle over refreshments. Others were The High Sheriff of Bristol and the deputy Lord Lieutenant for Bristol. It was also, we believe, the first time the Salvation Army has been involved in the Christian slot.
After an welcoming speech by The Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Jeff Lovell, there was the usual ceremony, "Lighting the Peace Candle".
Then there were presentations by five faith groups.
These were: Sufis: Amir Aslam and Asif Ali;
Sikhs: Parmjit Kaur;
The Salvtion Army: Major Ian Harris;
Jews: Rabbi Monique Mayer, of the Progressive Jewish Synagogue;
Baha'is: Some young representatives from the local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Bristol.

After the presentations the Lord Mayor's Chaplain, Rev. Harold Clarke offered a prayer for the weldfare of the City.
Finally the Lord Mayor gave a short appreciative speech to close the meeting.


On Tuesday January 24 at Central Quaker Meeting House, Champion Square, Cabot Circus BS2 9DB

The planned meeting subject was the significance of food and certain foods in various religious traditions.

On Thursday 1st December at Central Quaker Meeting House, Champion Square, Cabot Circus BS2 9DB
We held a meeting on "Mysticism"
We discussed such questions as "Do you believe in a Divine being which has an absolute existence beyond and separate
from human imagination or in a force for goodness and creativity that pervades the whole universe?"

And "What is the role of prayer and worship in your faith community?"

Creation Stories

On Wednesday 21st September at Central Quaker Meeting House, Champion Square, Cabot Circus BS2 9DB
We discussed the Questions: In the tradition of your faith community what accounts have been given to explain the existence
of planet earth and the human race?
What do members believe now? What do members see as the purpose of human life?

A lively ediscussion was held. Sadly we had no Moslem or Sikh input, but we had a good account of Hindhu understandings.


On Tuesday 25th October at The Unitarian Meeting House, Brunswick Square, BS2 8PE
We asked each other : Do you see your moral code as Divine law or as a set of principles that are the product of evolution?
Does everyone have a conscience? Do you believe in a form of continued existence after death?
If so, does this involve judgment?
How far do conscious wrong-doing get punished during life and good works get rewarded?

These weighty questions got a good airing. The SGI Buddhist understandings were well represented, as were some aspects of the Christian view.
Once again, however, we were disappointed not to have any Moslem, Sikh or Hindu representation.
We exist to share our understandings, so as to increase our knowledge and respect for each others' faith.
Odd as it may seem, dicussions with people of other faiths tends to strengthen one's own.

Tuesday 16 August 2016. The BIFG Committee met again at the Baha'i Centre, 8 Church Road

Present: Graham Davey, Stephen Petter, Mark Behard, Duncan Struthers and George Mazidian . Apologies for absence: Marie Hackett and Bernard Omar.

We agreed to hold public meetings on three further occasions this year.
21 September: Peace and Creation. 7 p.m. for 7.30 at Central Bristol Quaker Meeting House.
18 October: Judgement. 7 p.m. for 7.30 at the Unitarian Chapel
1 December : Angels and other mystical features of religions. 7 p.m. for 7.30 at Central Bristol Quaker Meeting House.

At all public meetings, refreshments will be available at 7 p.m.
Also 15 November: BIFG Committee meeting at 1030 at the Baha'i Centre


Thursday 19 May: Religion and Violence

BIFG held a public meeting on at the Quaker Meeting House in Central Bristol. About 30 people attended.

Three speakers presented views on the validity or otherwise of the assertion that religion causes violence.

Rev Tracey Lewis, of Henleaze United Reformed Church, and Chair of Bristol Multifaith Forum, argued that
human-kind is inherently violent, but that religion seeks to bring about peace and harmony.
However, people often used religion as a unifying force in their corporate acts of violence.

Don Cameron, better known as a world-famous balloonist, represented the Bristol Humanist Association.
He argued that while acknowledging what Tracey Lewis had said, religion was often a cause of vilolence,
such as when members of one religious persuasion massacre those they regrad as heretics.

David Leech, a lecturer in philosophy and religion at Bristol University, spoke of the problems of definition -
what exactly do we mean by 'violence' or by 'religion'. Does the latter include football?
He drew attention to all the major religions' ancient scriptures and showed them all to be full of violence,
apparently sanctionsed by God. He said this gave ample excuse for extremists today to justify their violence.

Questions and answers followed. The first was from a Buddhist who questioned David Leech's assertion that ALL religions
were violent. David agreed that Buddhissm could be regarded as an exception.

Many other questions and comments followed, and animated conversation continued after the meeting had been closed.

Thursday 12 May. The BIFG Committee met at the Baha'i Centre, 8 Church Road

Present: Graham Davey, Stephen Petter, Mark Behard, Duncan Struthers and George Mazidian (part time). Apologies for absence: Marie Hackett and Bernard Omar.

1. Does Religion Cause Violence? - public meeting to be held on 19 May
Arrangements were made for further publicity.  We will bring clip-boards and will need help
in getting as many of the visitors as possible to supply their names and e-mail addresses.
Simple refreshments (tea, coffee and biscuits) will be available from 7 - we aim to finish at 9.30 p.m.

2. Future events
We hope to arrange another public meeting in late June or early July with the title "How my religion affects my everyday life" with speakers from several faith communities.  Andrea Clark Ward to be involved.

3. Also a possible meeting about Ramadan to mark the end of the fast period on 5th July.

4. The committee would welcome ideas for an outside speaker on racial and inter-religious integration.

5.Date of next Committee meeting - Thursday 9th June at 10.00 a.m. at the Baha'i Centre, 8 Church Road, Lawrence Hill, BS5 9JA

20 April 2016: AGM and Talk on Religious Music

The Unitarian Church on Brunswick Square was the venue of this double event.
First was the Annual General Meeting. Chaired by Bernard Omar, the annual reports were heard and accepted and the committee re-elected with additional members: Mark Behard, Chris Steer and Duncan Struthers.

After an interval during which good snacks were served, the meeting re-convened to hear Chris Steer give an illustrated talk on "Religious Music". We heard examples from: Sufis, other Moslems, Klezmer music, then c17 European choral music such as that by William Byrd. This was followed by a Hindu chant, then a Sihk raja. We finished with two examples from North America, a Christian Gospel choir and finally two examples of Native American music.

10 March 2016: Lord Mayor's Civic Inter-Faith Celebration

The Mayor's Chapel on College Green was again the venue of this annual event.
Plans to hold it in the Mansion House in Clifton had been abandoned due to problems of accessibility by public transport. The Mayor's Chapel is more convenient but is very mono-faith!
Perhaps next year we will be back in our usual home - The City Hall.

About 70 guests were welcomed by Bernard Omar, the Chair of Bristol Interfaith Group (BIFG) which organises the event on behalf of the formal host, the Lord Mayor.
After tea and animated discussion we settled down for the programme.

The Lord Mayor, The Right Honourable Councillor Clare Campion-Smith, gave the keynote speech in which she emphasised the importance of sustainability as a common aim of all faith communities.

Then came the candle-lighting ceremony, in which all faith representative present took part.
After this, representatives of each of the selected faiths gave a presentation. These were:

Muslims: Zaheer Shabir, Bristol Jamia Mosque;
Jews: Clare Sandler, Progressive Jewish Synagogue;
Buddhists: Kelsang Lamchen, Amitabha Centre;
Pagans: Caroline Perry, Bristol Pagan Moot;
Hindu: Panditji Kamlesh Vyas, from the Hindu Temple in Easton;
Christian: Rev Brian Woodcock, United Reformed Church;
Sikhs: from whom we had a sung presentation from Inderpal Kaur;
Baha'i:Spoken, then sung by Philip Cleasby.
Finally the Lord Mayor's Chaplain led those present in a universal prayer for the City of Bristol and then the Lord Mayor herself gave a short closing speech.

Marie Hackett took about 150 photos of the event. A selection of 25 of them can be seen on the "Album" page of this website

24 January 2016: Massive turnout to support Totterdown Mosque

200 or more people came to the mosque to show solidarity to the congregation there, following a racist attack 7 days earlier. (4 people have been arrested.) After receiving many messages of support the Immam invited supported to "tea and coffee". The news spread via social media and far more came than had been expected. Speeches were made by leading religious and civic personalities, including the Mayor, George Ferguson, and representatives of Anglican, Baptist, and Methodist churches, the Anglican Bishop, and the leader of the Progressive Jewish synagogue in Easton, and also the local police superintendent.

12 January 2016: Committee Meeting

The date and location of the next Committee meeting is on the events page.