Claire Bowman reports on a recent interfaith environmental event:
On Sunday February 17th 45 people from different faiths and none gathered together at Birmingham Central Mosque for an afternoon of
conversation and presentations, interspersed with tea, cake and crafting. We learned about how the teaching of all the major world faiths includes caring for the environment.
After a welcome to the mosque, Rebecca Hawkins, Campaigns Executive of the Climate Coalition began the afternoon
by telling us about it’s work. She explained the importance of the recent IPCC report and how global warming must be kept below 1.5oC in order to avert a climate catastrophe. A mass lobby of parliament is being organised by the Climate Coalition on June 26th demanding that the government sets a net zero target. Kamran Fazil of the BAHU Trust spoke to us about his work on equipping faith leaders to speak in a clear and distinct way about caring for our planet as an act of Worship. “In fact,” he said “we can all be faith leaders influencing others as well as ourselves towards living a sustainable lifestyle. If we love God we must love his creation.”
Maurizio Silva, Catholic Community Worker and Columban and Father Dominic Innamorati from St John the Evangelist and St Martin Balsall Heath spoke to us about the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si. They spoke of the Theology of Inter-connectedness, agreeing with Fazil that God’s love is the fundamental moving force of everything. We must radically re-shape our relationships with ourselves, with our neighbours, with the earth. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after – not just our children or grandchildren but to unborn generations to come? Such a profound change in our lifestyles means we need effectively to be “born again” to a fresh lifestyle and consider unborn generations as our neighbours when Jesus says, in the first great commandment, to love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbour as yourself.
As Central England Quaker Ecumenical and interfaith Coordinator I concluded the afternoon with readings from faith resources created by The Climate Coalition especially for this year’s #ShowTheLove campaign. I chose Jewish and Christian readings from the Old Testament of the Bible, Quaker Advice and Query number 42 about freely choosing a simple lifestyle and a wonderful piece of writing by the Prophet Muhammad’s wife about how generous he was,giving away any spare money he had, living on a very basic diet and mending his own clothing and sandals.
We were offered a tour of the mosque, and our guide explained that he had grown up on a farm and was deeply concerned about the need for compassion in farming. He thinks that people should eat far less meat and was sympathetic with the idea of radically reducing the consumption of meat, as a means of contributing to saving the planet.
The event was organised by Birmingham Council of Faiths’ Footsteps – Faiths for a Low Carbon Future, the BAHU Trust and Central England Quaker Low Carbon Commitment Forum. It was part of the Climate Coalition’s annual #ShowTheLove campaign.