18 March 2020 See
"Events" for the latest on the Lord Mayor's Celebration.
George Mazidian, Tom Aditya, Marie Hackett, Chris Steer, Graham Davey
reported that the survey of BIFG members had resulted in 16 being in
favour of a merger with various names suggested for the new
organisation. One person had opposed the idea and one was
undecided. Marie, Tom and George all said they were opposed to a
merger on the grounds that the aims and methods of the two bodies were
too dissimilar for a combined organisation to work satisfactorily.
Chris pointed out that there were other faith communities in Bristol
that neither BIFG nor BMFF was engaged with.
concluded that any movement towards a united body would have to wait for
several months at least. During this time the newly elected
officers of BMFF could settle into their roles and the position of BMFF
within the Voice and Influence partnership of the City Council would be
more clearly established.
identified the period 7 to 20 March 2019 as a period in which there were
few significant religious festivals. Graham said he would contact
Pater Watts to fix a date when the Lord Mayor and the Conference Room at
City Hall would be free.
agreed to hold a Midwinter Circle event in early February at the
Unitarian Meeting House, Brunswick Square, with the theme 'Religion and
Art'. Faith communities would be invited to give presentations
(preferably illustrated) showing pictures, designs, architecture etc.
characteristic of their faith. The evening would start at 7.00
p.m. and include a sharing supper.
was agreed that Graham should sign this on behalf of BIFG.
being no other business, the meeting was closed.
We held a discussion on Buddhism and Hinduism on 7 November, 2018. As
it was the first day of Diwali no Hindu was available but
one of us studied the subject and gave a well-received mini-lecture.
Buddhism was presented by one from SGI and the other from the Amitabha
tradition. Quakers and other Christians joined in the discussion.
During recent months discussions have taken place between BIFG and
Bristol MultiFaith Forum (BMFF) with a view to a possible merger.
Already BIFG does work that might be considered more the role of BMFF,
and vice versa. However, BIFG members are anxious that its distinctive
Inter - Faith role is not lost.
We held a public meeting on Modern Slavery on 21st March. 2018
A report is not yet available.
The annual Lord Mayor's Multi-faith Celebration took place on 5th
March 2018, and was well-attended.
We were back in the newly-refurbished City Hall.
There were two innovations this year. Firstly, it was organised and
by BIFG and Bristol Multi Faith Forum (BMFF). In all previous years
this has been solely by BIFG.
As usual our Secretary, Graham Davey, did most of the organising.
Tracey Lewis, Chair of BMFF introduced the presentations.
Secondly, instead of having many presentations by representatives of
several faith groups this year we had only three such, and the
programme included us splitting up into small groups to discuss the
Notes of the Committee meeting held on 1 November 2017
Present: George Mazidian, Duncan Struthers, Bernard Omar, Graham Davey
Apologies: Mark Behard, Chris Steer
We met in the cafe of the Barton Hill Settlement.
It was noisy at first but became satisfactory later as a meeting place
for the four of us.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy on 19th October 2017.
All agreed this had been an excellent meeting thanks to Carla
Contractor's clear talk and answers to questions.
Notes of our meeting on 13th July 2017
Present: George Mazidian, Samina Aslam, Marie Hackett, James Hackett,
Duncan Struthers, Graham Davey
A meeting of members of the BIFG committee and representatives of the
Bristol Multi-Faith Forum (BMFF)
had taken place on 20 June and it had been agreed that the Lord Mayor's
Civic IF Celebration
should be organised by a special group set up for that purpose and
consisting of key members of
different faith communities who had had some connection with the
Celebration in past years.
A number of names had been sent to Tracey Lewis, chair of BMFF but we
were told that she was very
busy and had not had time to reply yet.
A useful open meeting had taken place at the Hindu Temple on 5th July
where we were welcomed by
Panditji and watched or participated in the Aarti ceremony of honouring
This was followed by a prresentation by Panditji and answers to many
lifestyle and Hinduism. The meeting deserved a much larger attendance
than the 8 of us who were present.
A RESPONSE BY A PARISH TO THOSE IN NEED
Thursday 4th May, 2017 at 7.30 p.m. at the Assisi Centre, Lawford's
Gate, BS5 0RE.
Fr. Richard McKay, priest in charge of St Nicholas of Tolentino Roman
together with members of the parish, told the story of the support
given to refugees, asylum seekers
and other marginalised people in recent years.
Sadly there was a poor turnout, with no no-Christian people attending.
Lord Mayor's Annual Inter Faith Celebration
On Thursday March 30, 2017 at the Civic Hall, College Green
The theme this year was "Inter-Faith Understanding and Co-operaion".
There was a reasonable attendance with several notable personalities
present for the first time. These included The Lord Mayor Elect, who
stated her intention to continue the celebration in 2018 once again at
City Hall where there is space to mingle over refreshments. Others were
The High Sheriff of Bristol and the deputy Lord Lieutenant for Bristol.
It was also, we believe, the first time the Salvation Army has been
involved in the Christian slot.
After an welcoming speech by The Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor of Bristol,
Councillor Jeff Lovell, there was the usual ceremony, "Lighting the
Then there were presentations by five faith groups.
These were: Sufis: Amir Aslam and Asif Ali;
Sikhs: Parmjit Kaur;
The Salvtion Army: Major Ian Harris;
Jews: Rabbi Monique Mayer, of the Progressive Jewish Synagogue;
Baha'is: Some young representatives from the local Spiritual Assembly of
the Baha'is of Bristol.
After the presentations the Lord Mayor's Chaplain, Rev. Harold Clarke
offered a prayer for the weldfare of the City.
Finally the Lord Mayor gave a short appreciative speech to close the
On Tuesday January 24, 2017 at Central Quaker Meeting House, Champion
Square, Cabot Circus BS2 9DB
The subject was the significance of food and certain foods in various
On Thursday 1st December 2016 at Central Quaker Meeting House, Champion
Square, Cabot Circus BS2 9DB
We held a meeting on "Mysticism"
We discussed such questions as "Do you believe in a Divine being which
has an absolute existence beyond and separate
from human imagination or in a force for goodness and creativity that
pervades the whole universe?"
And "What is the role of prayer and worship in your faith community?"
On Wednesday 21st September 2016 at Central Quaker Meeting House,
Champion Square, Cabot Circus BS2 9DB
We discussed the Questions: In the tradition of your faith community
what accounts have been given to explain the existence
of planet earth and the human race?
What do members believe now? What do members see as the purpose of human
A lively ediscussion was held. Sadly we had no Moslem or Sikh input, but
we had a good account of Hindhu understandings.
On Tuesday 25th October 2016 at The Unitarian Meeting House, Brunswick
Square, BS2 8PE
We asked each other : Do you see your moral code as Divine law or as a
set of principles that are the product of evolution?
Does everyone have a conscience? Do you believe in a form of continued
existence after death?
If so, does this involve judgment?
How far do conscious wrong-doing get punished during life and good works
These weighty questions got a good airing. The SGI Buddhist
understandings were well represented, as were some aspects of the
Once again, however, we were disappointed not to have any Moslem, Sikh
or Hindu representation.
We exist to share our understandings, so as to increase our knowledge
and respect for each others' faith.
Odd as it may seem, dicussions with people of other faiths tends to
strengthen one's own.
Tuesday 16 August 2016. The BIFG Committee met again at the Baha'i
Centre, 8 Church Road
Present: Graham Davey, Stephen Petter, Mark Behard, Duncan Struthers and
George Mazidian . Apologies for absence: Marie Hackett and Bernard Omar.
We agreed to hold public meetings on three further occasions this year.
21 September: Peace and Creation. 7 p.m. for 7.30 at Central Bristol
Quaker Meeting House.
18 October: Judgement. 7 p.m. for 7.30 at the Unitarian Chapel
1 December : Angels and other mystical features of religions. 7 p.m. for
7.30 at Central Bristol Quaker Meeting House.
At all public meetings, refreshments will be available at 7 p.m.
Also 15 November: BIFG Committee meeting at 1030 at the Baha'i Centre
Thursday 19 May 2016: Religion and Violence
BIFG held a public meeting on at the Quaker Meeting House in Central
Bristol. About 30 people attended.
Three speakers presented views on the validity or otherwise of the
assertion that religion causes violence.
Rev Tracey Lewis, of Henleaze United Reformed Church, and Chair of
Bristol Multifaith Forum, argued that
human-kind is inherently violent, but that religion seeks to bring about
peace and harmony.
However, people often used religion as a unifying force in their
corporate acts of violence.
Don Cameron, better known as a world-famous balloonist, represented the
Bristol Humanist Association.
He argued that while acknowledging what Tracey Lewis had said, religion
was often a cause of vilolence,
such as when members of one religious persuasion massacre those they
regrad as heretics.
David Leech, a lecturer in philosophy and religion at Bristol
University, spoke of the problems of definition -
what exactly do we mean by 'violence' or by 'religion'. Does the latter
He drew attention to all the major religions' ancient scriptures and
showed them all to be full of violence,
apparently sanctionsed by God. He said this gave ample excuse for
extremists today to justify their violence.
Questions and answers followed. The first was from a Buddhist who
questioned David Leech's assertion that ALL religions
were violent. David agreed that Buddhissm could be regarded as an
Many other questions and comments followed, and animated conversation
continued after the meeting had been closed.
Thursday 12 May. The BIFG Committee met at the Baha'i Centre, 8
Present: Graham Davey, Stephen Petter, Mark Behard, Duncan Struthers and
George Mazidian (part time). Apologies for absence: Marie Hackett and
1. Does Religion Cause Violence? - public meeting to be held on 19 May
Arrangements were made for further publicity.� We will bring
clip-boards and will need help
in getting as many of the visitors as possible to supply their names and
Simple refreshments (tea, coffee and biscuits) will be available from 7
- we aim to finish at 9.30 p.m.
2. Future events
We hope to arrange another public meeting in late June or early July
with the title "How my religion affects my everyday life" with speakers
from several faith communities.� Andrea Clark Ward to be
3. Also a possible meeting about Ramadan to mark the end of the fast
period on 5th July.
4. The committee would welcome ideas for an outside speaker on racial
and inter-religious integration.
5.Date of next Committee meeting - Thursday 9th June at 10.00 a.m. at
the Baha'i Centre, 8 Church Road, Lawrence Hill, BS5 9JA
20 April 2016: AGM and Talk on Religious Music
The Unitarian Church on Brunswick Square was the venue of this double
First was the Annual General Meeting. Chaired by Bernard Omar, the
annual reports were heard and accepted and the committee re-elected
with additional members: Mark Behard, Chris Steer and Duncan
After an interval during which good snacks were served, the meeting
re-convened to hear Chris Steer give an illustrated talk on "Religious
Music". We heard examples from: Sufis, other Moslems, Klezmer music,
then c17 European choral music such as that by William Byrd. This was
followed by a Hindu chant, then a Sihk raja. We finished with two
examples from North America, a Christian Gospel choir and finally two
examples of Native American music.
10 March 2016: Lord Mayor's Civic Inter-Faith Celebration
The Mayor's Chapel on College Green was again the venue of this
Plans to hold it in the Mansion House in Clifton had been abandoned
due to problems of accessibility by public transport. The Mayor's
Chapel is more convenient but is very mono-faith!
Perhaps next year we will be back in our usual home - The City Hall.
About 70 guests were welcomed by Bernard Omar, the Chair of Bristol
Interfaith Group (BIFG) which organises the event on behalf of the
formal host, the Lord Mayor.
After tea and animated discussion we settled down for the programme.
The Lord Mayor, The Right Honourable Councillor Clare Campion-Smith,
gave the keynote speech in which she emphasised the importance of
sustainability as a common aim of all faith communities.
Then came the candle-lighting ceremony, in which all faith
representative present took part.
After this, representatives of each of the selected faiths gave a
presentation. These were:
Muslims: Zaheer Shabir, Bristol Jamia Mosque;
Jews: Clare Sandler, Progressive Jewish Synagogue;
Buddhists: Kelsang Lamchen, Amitabha Centre;
Pagans: Caroline Perry, Bristol Pagan Moot;
Hindu: Panditji Kamlesh Vyas, from the Hindu Temple in Easton;
Christian: Rev Brian Woodcock, United Reformed Church;
Sikhs: from whom we had a sung presentation from Inderpal Kaur;
Baha'i:Spoken, then sung by Philip Cleasby.
Finally the Lord Mayor's Chaplain led those present in a universal
prayer for the City of Bristol and then the Lord Mayor herself gave a
short closing speech.
Marie Hackett took about 150 photos of the event. A selection of 25
of them can be seen on the "Album" page of this website
24 January 2016: Massive turnout to support Totterdown Mosque
200 or more people came to the mosque to show solidarity to the
congregation there, following a racist attack 7 days earlier. (4
people have been arrested.) After receiving many messages of support
the Immam invited supported to "tea and coffee". The news spread via
social media and far more came than had been expected. Speeches were
made by leading religious and civic personalities, including the
Mayor, George Ferguson, and representatives of Anglican, Baptist, and
Methodist churches, the Anglican Bishop, and the leader of the
Progressive Jewish synagogue in Easton, and also the local police