One World Week 2010
17th October 2010
Two visions of peace set the focus for Farnham‘s “Peacing Together” celebration at St.Andrew‘s Church.
In the context of a service of prayer and music, the two main speakers explored peace from a Muslim and from a Quaker perspective, followed by an open discussion forum.
Ahsan Ahmedi, Regional President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, demonstrated that Islam is in truth a religion of peace. He said: "Islam today is portrayed as a religion of terror... but the meaning of Islam is peace ... to submit to God and to live in peace with his creation." He quoted some of many injunctions from the Qur'an and from the words of the Holy Prophet Muhammad exemplifying that peace is central to Islam. One of these sayings was: "Forgive him who wrongs you, join him who cuts you off, do good to him who does evil to you, and speak the truth although it be against yourself.' Muslims share their belief in the One God with other religions and they do not claim a monopoly on Heaven, he emphasised. Also, Jesus and his mother Mary, have an important place in the Qur'an and in the Muslim faith.
Michael Gittins, co-Clerk of Farnham Religious Society of Friends, told how Quakers are working for peace and reconciliation with people of all faiths and none across the world. He explained how the Quakers’ pacifist tradition goes back to the famous Peace Declaration issued by their founder, George Fox, at a time of intense fear and suspicion in the still turbulent aftermath of the Civil War.
“This uncompromising pacifism is a streak that has remained within Quakers. It is not merely a refusal to fight, but a passionate desire to prevent warfare and oppose any preparation for it.” Quaker pacifism is also “a commitment to the vital and practical task of picking up the pieces after the violence has ended and of helping to reconstruct normal life and trying to reconcile former bitter enemies.”
Around the world, Quakers are working with local non-violent and social-justice groups to confront injustice and prejudice and to increase communication and understanding. Places include Northern Ireland, Burundi, Israel (in Palestinian areas), the post-Yugoslav countries, Uganda and South Africa.
Questions, answers and discussion followed. Concluding the forum, Canon Andrew Tuck, Rector of St Andrew’s said: “Hopefully we have grown in awareness that we need one another.”
The event was devised, organised and led by Jenny Floyer on behalf of Churches Together in Farnham. Canon Tuck, hosting Farnham’s annual One-World-Week celebration for the third time, welcomed everyone. The Amnesty Candle was lit by Ahsan Ahmedi and Tim Cox, secretary of Farnham Amnesty Group. Heather Golding gave an inspirational reflection in song. Pastor Michael Hall, the newly elected Chair of Churches Together in Farnham, and Andy Marriott (CTF treasurer) led a meditation on the Lord’s Prayer, subsequently expressed in a meditative dance led by Jane Still, in which all were invited to join. A short passage from St John’s Gospel was read by Mary Clarke. Sadie Blankley led a prayer reflecting the themes of peace, justice and love in action. Everyone joined in the two hymns, beautifully accompanied on the piano by Frances Whewell, and recited together the World Peace Prayer as a commitment to action.
Various organisations concerned with peace and justice staged exhibits. These included: Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Israeli Committee against House Demolition, United Nations Peacekeeping and Quakers for Peace. Traidcraft also had a well stocked stall of foodstuff, gifts books and cards.
An inspiring afternoon drew to a close over a shared tea.
Jenny Floyer summed up with a quotation: “When we understand each other's perspectives, our lives can be transformed and enriched.” [anon]