In the shadow of recent events which seek to divide and segregate our communities; horrific terror attacks, rising Islamophobia and division between faiths, Faithful Friends aims to build a community of reconciliation in Sandwell, Smethwick and beyond.
Faithful Friends was established after a visit to Coventry Cathedral by Revd David Gould of Holy Trinity Church, Smethwick. He was inspired by a vision of a ‘community of reconciliation’ where people of all faiths and none can live together peacefully. He talked to Sandwell Council’s Gary Bowman, who introduced him to local faith and community leaders. Supported by Near Neighbours, a group of eight men began to meet monthly to eat and talk together, and have now become friends.
As the group of eight faith leaders got to know each other, conversations turned to the holy places that have been significant to them on their own faith journeys, which led to an exciting plan to create a film documenting their journeys: to Worcester, Birmingham, Dewsbury (where the group will be the first non-Muslims to visit the Islamic Deobundi seminary), Cornwall and Crowborough in the UK; to Amritsar and Delhi in India; Lahore in Pakistan; and Jerusalem in Israel/Palestine. The film will explore the relationships that are formed and unpack the issues raised as the friends tour these special places together.
Alongside the tour, there is a social media campaign that enables schools, communities and individuals to follow the journeys of the faith leaders and to interact with them in real time, joining in exploration and discussions. This process will enable the whole community to share in the journey, contributing to and shaping the learning gained. Faithful Friends have also visited schools, giving children in Sandwell a deeper understanding of the roots of the various faiths and what impact they have on daily living. See below for ways to join the Friends on their journeys.
On a mission
The overall goal of Faithful Friends is to put Sandwell on the map as the world’s first ‘Together for Hope’ community. They are working with Canon Sarah Hills from Coventry Cathedral to pioneer this new initiative, committed to ‘Learning to Live with Difference and Celebrate Diversity’. Other local interfaith groups have also been established in the area. Near Neighbours formed Smethwick Interfaith Friends, a quarterly meeting for local faith leaders, and Revd Deb Buckley from Smethwick Old Church developed Women First; a monthly group that brings together women from diverse backgrounds. These groups have established local connections and brought ordinary people together in friendship and understanding. It is the dream that the work of Faithful Friends, Smethwick Interfaith Friends and Women First will unite people in Sandwell, from all faiths and none, and contribute towards peaceful and reconciled communities.
If you would like to follow Faithful Friends as they go on tour, visit: