This website is now hosted by WebHostUK rather than
Clarahost. This move was because Clara greatly increased their
George Mazidian, Tom Aditya, Marie Hackett, Chris Steer, Graham
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
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
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.
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 led jointly
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
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 issues presented.
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, Mark Behard,
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 various gods.
This was followed by a prresentation by Panditji and answers to
many questions concerning
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 Catholic Church,
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
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
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 Peace Candle".
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
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 religious traditions.
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
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 life?
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 get rewarded?
These weighty questions got a good airing. The SGI Buddhist
understandings were well represented, as were some aspects of
the Christian view.
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
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
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 include football?
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
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 Church Road
Present: Graham Davey, Stephen Petter, Mark Behard, Duncan
Struthers and George Mazidian (part time). Apologies for
absence: Marie Hackett and Bernard Omar.
1. Does Religion Cause Violence? - public meeting to be held on
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 e-mail addresses.
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 involved.
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 event.
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 Struthers.
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 annual event.
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
Perhaps next year we will be back in our usual home - The City
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
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
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
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
24 January 2016: Massive turnout to support Totterdown
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
12 January 2016: Committee Meeting
The date and location of the next Committee meeting is on
the events page.