On this page, you will find the latest articles from members and supporters of Interfaith Wolverhampton.
Statement from Interfaith Wolverhampton, October 18th, 2023
Faith leaders in Wolverhampton are united in horror at the appalling toll of human suffering arising from the escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza. Within our different faith traditions, we are committed to holding together all those who suffer, in our thinking and in our prayers. We pray for the political will and vision that will pave a way for an end to the violence and towards a lasting and just peace.
We recognise the challenge of making a common statement in the midst of such a complex situation and in an environment where words are vulnerable to being weaponised by those who wish to inflame the conflict. Nevertheless, as an organisation committed to dialogue and understanding, Interfaith Wolverhampton hopes to join leaders across our city in weighing our words carefully whilst being courageous advocates for peace.
Sadly, previous experience shows that escalating violence in Israel Palestine will lead to a rise in Antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes here in the UK. We encourage the people of our wonderfully diverse city to look out for the welfare of their neighbours and to challenge Antisemitism and Islamophobia wherever it is encountered.
Please click below for a local audio message
about protecting yourself from the COVID virus:
An appeal for prayer, from our Chair Cllr Jasbinder Dehar
Pause for prayer on Sunday evenings.
At 7pm on Sundays, please light a candle in your window (only if it is safe to do so!), and say a prayer from your own tradition to remember:
All who have died,
All who have contracted Covid-19,
All who are lonely and anxious because of isolation,
All of our key workers who are keeping our essential services going.
Pray also in hope for the day when we can celebrate our physical fellowship again.
VAISAKHI MESSAGE FROM GURU NANAK SIKH GURDWARA, SEDGLEY STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON
On this Vaisakhi when the whole world is suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic and the human race is under extreme danger, let us thank the exceptional dedication and sacrifice of our NHS staff, police services, civil servants and the army of volunteers who have put their lives on the line to help those who are suffering from Covid-19.
We are also thankful to volunteers from the Gurdwaras in the UK and around the world who are also playing their part in helping, caring and feeding the elderly and needy in these tough times.
Let us pray that with the blessings of Guru Sahib it will be a year with new peace and happiness.
Let us also wish for our Prime Minister Boris Johnson to have a speedy recovery.
May Guru Sahib bless you all throughout the coming season.
Trustees & Sangat
Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sedgley Street
A message from our Chair, Cllr Jasbinder Dehar
A letter to the community of Wolverhampton, 31st March 2020
Since our inception, Interfaith Wolverhampton has promoted our mutual respect, understanding and social cohesion as a way to overcome the challenges we face. In these unprecedented times, our methods may be different, but the message remains the same.
Following the advice of the Government, we are not currently able to gather in our faith communities. For many of us, our faith is worked out socially, with others in community. While we mourn this loss, we must also look to common threads in our faith which promote the sanctity of creation. Following Government guidance, and sacrificing our social gatherings, is in itself an act of love for our neighbours, as we reduce the risk of the virus spreading and reduce the burden on the NHS and other agencies. If any of us develop symptoms or live with someone who has, we must follow Government guidelines so as to protect others. In this we must not become complacent.
However, this does not mean that our faith is not active. We have seen different faiths in the community coming together to deliver food to our NHS staff, and local businesses and volunteers giving their time. Often as we turn our attention to helping others, we can overcome our fear. Perhaps we can’t help how we would most like to, but we can seek other ways to help. Could we make financial donations to charities such as foodbanks, the Haven, or the Refugee and Migrant Centre?
Whether we are in the position to practically help others or not, our faiths offer us a rich store of comfort and assurance. In our reading of our sacred texts and the prayers we offer, we find hope. I hope too that we can be united in our prayers for the key workers who, in their gargantuan efforts, are maintaining our essential services to keep us all safe and protected.
If you have some spare income, or some spare food, could you donate to your local food bank?
If you would like to just talk, or are anxious or worried or are alone, you can pick up the phone and ring us: Cllr Jasbinder Dehar on 07958 561731, or Jill Parker MBE JP on 01902 700755.
Cllr Jasbinder Dehar
Chair, Interfaith Wolverhampton
A few photographs from the retirement party of Mike Shelley-Smith, one of our Interfaith staff, on January 24th
Mike Smith has given many years of service to IFW and, to the loss of IFW, decided to retire as of Christmas 2019. Mike has been the backbone and anchor of InterFaith Wolverhampton, that has steadied us during troubled waters and provided a wealth of knowledge, experience and understanding in his work; and love and friendliness to all he met and worked with. Mike, you will be sincerely missed, and we all wish you the best for your long and no doubt fruitful retirement.
Yusuf Shafi (Vice Chair)
The funeral of our friend Sehdev Bismal on Monday July 15th was a wonderful and deeply moving event. Speakers included Anuraj Bismal, Kaie Bismal (pictured right with Sehdev), Babita and Vineet Bismal, and Opinderjit Takhar, Bishop Clive, Ruth Wilson, Erik Pearse, and Barbara Gwinnett.
Erik Pearse spoke as follows:
"I came to know Sehdev through Interfaith. He first became involved in what was then called the Wolverhampton Inter-Faith Group in the late ‘80’s, following a series of meetings between Interfaith and the LEA’s Multi-cultural Education Service where Sehdev worked alongside Harun Rashid, a founder member of Interfaith and still currently its vice-President.
Sehdev soon became a leading and key member of Interfaith, holding in succession the positions of vice-chair, chair for 6 years, President and latterly vice-President.
I had the privilege of working closely alongside him when he was chair. He used to invite the Officers to his home for the monthly meetings we held and we were regaled with wonderful Indian dishes cooked by his delightful wife Rajinder. The two of them made us so welcome – those occasions, apart from being very fruitful and productive from a work point of view, were among the highlights of the month. When Rajinder sadly passed away, Sehdev nevertheless continued regularly to extend his hospitality to us and I learned, to my surprise I must shamefully confess, what an excellent cook he was.
Sehdev had a great vocation as a writer, as any of you who have read his two books – Dream Interrupted and Broken Hearts – will readily acknowledge. For ten years, until last year, he edited the quarterly Interfaith newsletter, a task for which he was admirably qualified. He undertook it with his customary professionalism, dedication, thoughtfulness and commitment and the collection will remain a lasting memorial of what Interfaith achieved during those years. This will no doubt be complemented by his very well-written and researched booklet ‘Building Bridges not walls’ to commemorate Interfaith Wolverhampton’s 40th anniversary in 2014.
Sehdev was more than just a colleague; he was a real and gracious friend. I treasured the many occasions on which I visited him and was warmly received and the discussions we held on literature and other matters; he was very wise and his judgement was so very sound.
I extend my profound condolences to his children and grandchildren and also to Harbhaja, his very devoted sister-in-law. I will greatly miss his friendship but have no doubt that he is resting in peace, welcomed, in my Christian understanding, by God in heaven".
More than 250 faith groups are featured on a new online faith map of Wolverhampton, at bit.ly/wtonfaithmap .
Click HERE to read the full Press Release.
A message from our Chair, Mrs Parveen Brigue
Interfaith Wolverhampton utterly condemns the atrocity in Sri Lanka
Atrocities such as the Easter Sunday massacre of innocent people and children in Sri Lanka represent yet another black spot on humanity. Interfaith Wolverhampton denounce this sickening act carried out by mindless individuals who believe that their actions are the will of God. There is real evil behind each and every attack which manifests itself in the minds of those who coerce others into carrying out their will. They distort their faith to satisfy their perverted ideologies.
We at Interfaith in Wolverhampton have a long tradition of bringing people of all faiths and non-together to create understanding, tolerance and respect. This represents the will of the British people and also the people of Sri Lanka and every other decent minded nation on earth.
Those murderers who carried out the attack are most definitely not martyrs. They creep about in the shadows planning their diabolical acts of terrorism. Anyone who just happens to get in their way becomes a victim. It matters not who they are, Christian, Muslim, any other faith, people of no faith and worst of all poor dear sweet little children.
We join our voice with others in the outright condemnation of this latest act of genocide. We call on all people of faith to attend their place of worship to pray for deliverance from the evil in our midst.
A peaceful act of solidarity took place on Wednesday 1st May 2019 on the piazza in front of the Civic Centre.
Chair of Interfaith Wolverhampton