22 March 2019
Interfaith Prayer Vigil for New Zealand
A participant commented:
‘We gathered in the Peace Garden to remember those who had died in Christchurch, and at other times and places. An amazing number of people came. There was a beautiful sense of unity.’
‘People just kept coming! It was incredible!’
Elected Mayor Peter Taylor said:
‘It was a privilege to join faith leaders from across Watford, and those of no faith at all, at an Interfaith vigil this morning for the victims of the horrifying events in Christchurch last week.
I’m proud to be a Mayor of such a tolerant and diverse town. We are stronger when we stand together than when we stand apart.’
Geoffrey Calvert, chair of the WIFA committee, welcomed everyone to the meeting and invited us all to say the International Prayer for Peace together to open the meeting. In his report he explained that he would be standing down as chair as from this meeting. He reminded us that interfaith activity is something that we do together and encouraged everyone to join in, reminding us that interfaith activity strengthens rather than weakens one’s existing faith. We can all help by maintaining, developing and using the peace garden, by participating in World Day of Prayer and in ‘Sacred Space’ at Celebration and joining the WIFA committee. Geoff was presented with a small gift in recognition of all his work as chair.
We also heard reports from the treasurer and secretary and elected the committee.
Formal business having been satisfactorily, and speedily, accomplished it was time to hear from our guest speakers.
Remembrance Day 2018
Jeff Bateman and Sharifa Choudrey laid a wreath at Watford’s Peace Memorial on behalf of WIFA
Harold Meyer Memorial Lecture 2018
Dame Helen Hyde spoke about her work with refugees and with women in Rwanda
Some of the people who attended last night’s brilliant lecture from Dame Helen Hyde.
At least 13 faith groups were represented.
Thanks to all those who came,and those who helped.
It was a truly inspirational evening.
Dame Helen Hyde holds up a blanket she made which is similar to those she teaches the women of the Rwandan Sisterhood Association to make. Most of them have never owned a new item in their lives. Photo from Teereth Kaur.
Week of Prayer for World Peace
Peace Garden Opening
WIFA’s 2018 AGM
The business part of the meeting went smoothly. We heard about the events WIFA that had organised in the past year, future plans, our currently secure financial situation and major progress with the peace garden project. The committee was re-elected, plus one new member, to continue the good work. Numbers attending were a little lower that usual, probably due to the slightly late notice and the bitterly cold weather. Those who didn’t make it missed a very warm welcome at the Multi-Cultural Community Centre and a fascinating talk from Tony Rindl, co-founder, with Helen Hyde, of the local charity Refugees to Recovery. Our patron, elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, spoke of how much goodness there is in our town and how much the faith groups contribute, emphasising the importance of all our relationships with each other because that avoids divisions between us. She concluded by challenging us all to ‘turn up the volume’ and, next year, to each ‘bring a friend’ to the AGM. A splendid array of refreshments complemented the opportunity to get to know one another better before we made our way home.
Watford Interfaith Association’s contribution to this week was to organise an Interfaith Pilgrimage in Watford Town Centre, calling at 5 places of worship. Starting at 12.45pm at the Watford & District Synagogue, the pilgrims were welcomed with warm drinks and delicious kosher cakes before the Rabbi’s sons gave a presentation. The pilgrimage also visited the Watford Velmurugan Temple for the first time, the Watford Central Mosque and Holy Rood Roman Catholic Churchand ended at 5pm at the Gurdwara, the Sikh Temple where refreshments were served.
Pictures of the pilgrmage are on our ‘Interfaith Pilgrimages’ page.
Mayor’s charity Christmas card makes world of difference to
Watford Interfaith Association
Front row, left to right: Judith Bruni (WIFA), Father Geoff Calvert (chair of WIFA), Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, Harjit Singh (WIFA), Francoise Murphy (WIFA).
Back row, left to right: Owrang Moshtael, (WIFA), Jeff Bateman (WIFA), Yogesh Joshi (WIFA)
Every year the elected Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill, sends out a Christmas card, sponsored by local firms. Every year the money collected goes to the Mayor’s chosen charity. This year the Watford Interfaith Association – with an annual budget usually running at around six-hundred pounds – has received £3,800.
Chairman of WIFA, Father Geoff Calvert, said “This money will really change what we can offer Watford in 2017 – our fortieth anniversary year. Last year we couldn’t afford to put on our memorial lecture, because we couldn’t hire a venue. Now we will be able to share ideas with people of all faiths and of none. Plus we’re putting the final touches to our labyrinth in the Peace Garden in Cassiobury Park – which will also be funded by this generous gift.”
Dorothy said “I’m really touched by the generosity of the firms who support my Christmas card – thank you Warner Brothers, West Herts Golf Club. Sigma Pharmaceuticals, Everyone Active, the Intu centre, The Prince of Bengal and WH Humphreys and Son. Your kindness means the Watford Interfaith Association can continue its important work – on projects like the Interfaith Pilgrimage and Sacred Space – well into the future.”
This year’s card shows a photograph from 1953 of the bandstand in the snow – it remains to be seen whether that will be replicated in 2016, with the bandstand freshly renovated thanks to a Heritage Lottery/Big Lottery grant, and back in its original position in Cassiobury Park.
The business of the AGM was fairly quickly accomplished. It’s good to have 13 people elected to the executive committee, we look forward to working with the new members.
Our speaker DC100 Emma Maxwell’s talk about police counter-terrorism work in Hertfordshire was very illuminating, and somewhat shocking! She gave a good overview of the work and didn’t avoid the difficult issues.
She kindly answered questions that arose, ably assisted by Pat Davey.
Among her points was that PREVENT is non-criminal, that it is about supporting and protecting, that it is not against radical thinking but wants to avoid radical thinking becoming violent action.
Our chairperson for the meeting observed that as a young man, dropping a good career path and joining a new religious movement was viewed as radical thinking and action. But it did not lead him to violent action, among other things it led him to interfaith work.
Councillor Linda Topping also spoke to us very briefly. She emphasised that communication is vital and that we can all learn more from listening to one another than just keeping talking. She urged us all to consider standing in the upcoming local election, whatever party we may choose to stand for, so that the council represents the community it serves.
After this there was a lot of socialising, which was very good to see and be part of. And the refreshments were clearly much appreciated.
Here are some reports of recent WIFA events
Interfaith Pilgrimage 2015
More pictures on our Interfaith Pilgrimage page
2 minutes silence at the bandstand to remember those who suffer from terrorism
Our elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill reminded us that Watford is a moderate and modest town and said that this silence together, incorporated into our already planned interfaith pilgrimage, was a very appropriate response to recent events.
We stood together in silence, between us representing the community of Watford.
Our guest speaker, Bonnie Evans-Hills, who encouraged us all to think about what we can offer young people to provide them with hope and show them that they can be heroes in positive ways.
Displays of WIFA’s work and recent activities.
Chair of Watford Council, George Derbyshire, summing up the evening’s proceedings.
BISHOP’S CUP INTERFAITH CRICKET TOURNAMENT, Sunday 3rd August, Watford Town Cricket Club at Woodside Leisure Centre,
Due to Watford’s great success in winning the tournament between Bedford, Luton, St Albans and Watford in 2013 we are hosted the event this year. The idea is to have people of at least three different faiths in each team, they must be over 15 and can be male or female. It’s free and all are welcome.
Congratulations to Watford’s team on winning again. Look out for news of next year’s tournament, to be held in Watford again.
Watford Interfaith Pilgrimage 2013
Another great success!
This was the fifth year that Watford Interfaith Association had organised a pilgrimage around Watford on the occasion of National Interfaith week. Year after year, we have seen a great development in the relations between the faiths in Watford. The hospitality and openness of the various places we visit has increased greatly since the first year we started the pilgrimage. The turnout this year was also at its highest. We counted over 85 participants from various faiths, old and young even small children and 2 brave souls on crutches! The Pilgrimage visited 5 places of worship around Watford: a Synagogue, a Parish Church, a Mosque, a Catholic Church and a Gurdwara. Watford is a small town making it possible for us to walk to all those places of worship in one afternoon. The Head of the Council spoke at the start of the pilgrimage and stayed with us the whole time. The Watford Fire fighters, as part of their community project, also participated and some of them followed us with their fire engine. The Pilgrimage was mentioned in the local newspaper, the Watford Observer..
To view the pictures of the Pilgrimage taken by Christophe Murphy follow the link: