This evening I went to a conference fringe event. Yes I confess it was chosen at least in part for being very close (it was raining and time was short) and for including food (I am so predictable).
It was billed as:
St Peter's House, 4 Exchange Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1TS
'Inter Faith Relations in the 21st Century: the continuing journey'
Speakers: Dr Deirdre Burke, Gopinder Kaur, Amra Bone and Ramona Kauth
It turns out I should really have been there an hour earlier for the food, but there was plenty left and we started very soon after I arrived. Sadly the turn out was very poor, I don't know why.
The format was simple, the chair introduced all the speakers and then each spoke for about 15 minutes sharing their experiences, views and spirituality.
They were all great and what is more they were all clearly experienced at listening to each other as connections between their experiences kept being drawn out. There was deep respect, humility, kindness, friendship and support between them (occasional prompts like "Why don't you mention x, we have found that really helpful" or just as y was saying I find …").
When it came to answering questions they were thoughtful and again supported each other.
I would love to find a way for East Northamptonshire to benefit from the years of experience these wonderful women have as we have barely begun to scratch the surface. We are still almost in denial that there are people of other faiths than Christianity in the area. Also with only 1.7% described as Black and Minority Ethnic in the last census there is very little experience which sadly leads to problems with racism and prejudices and intolerance towards other faiths.
So a great evening, just very sad that so few benefited from learning from these four awesome women.