COLLABORATION between faiths was celebrated as a new interfaith group for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole was launched.

Representatives from the area’s Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i and Jewish communities and a number of Christian denominations gathered at Bournemouth Reform Synagogue on Thursday, May 18.

A previous interfaith group had been active in the conurbation, but the group stopped during the pandemic.

Meetings began a year ago between the Reverend Canon Michael Smith, Rabbi Maurice Michaels and Lynda Ford-Horne to relaunch the group.

The group plans to become active and visible in the community and celebrated their launch with Poole Mayor Tony Trent and Bournemouth deputy Mayor David Kelsey in attendance.

Bournemouth Echo: The launch of a new BCP interfaith group at Bournemouth Reform Synagogue.

Co-organiser of the launch, Lynda Ford-Horne from the reform synagogue, said it was “really important” to get the group started again.

“We need to work together to respect our differences but also laud our similarities,” she said.

“We are going through very difficult times, and we need to be seen to be working together as a whole community, whatever our background, whatever our religion.”

Canon Smith added that he was “delighted” to relaunch the group.

“The gathering at this evening's launch gives an idea of the commitment across faiths to work together,” he said.

“With the rhetoric coming from both social media and mainstream media, there is a greater need for those across the faiths to offer support to each other and to the community for the common good.

“Tonight offers that encouragement.”

Outgoing chair of BCP Council, Nigel Hedges, will be involved in the group’s committee, and said he wants to make interfaith collaboration more prominent in the conurbation.

“One thing I wanted to do if I had got a third year, would have been to carry this on and get BCP civic services at all our churches,” he said.

“That’s one way of connecting with everybody on the commonality of world views.”

Cllr Kelsey said he was “totally unreligious” but that he was a “great believer” in people being able to practice their religion together in peace.

“I think all the different faiths getting on together and pulling people of their own faiths together is so important for the cohesion of the whole BCP area,” he said.

Cllr Trent said the group was important to celebrate the links between the different religions and called on it to engage younger people.

“There is so much commonality between all the religions and variants of religions, that trying to build on what links them rather than what divides them I think is just so important,” he said.

“If this group can do that, then that’s great.”

The group is hopes to elect a committee with wide representation from across the faith groups and plans to hold events starting ahead of Inter Faith Week in November.

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