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Faithful friends group in Forest Gate seeks to bring society together

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:13 06 February 2014

Rev Dr Chigor Chike from Emmanuel Church, Harvinder Singh Virdee and Maghar Singh Hunjan from Ramgarhia Sikh Gurdwara on Neville Road, Rev Canon Barnabas Matloon from Emmanuel Church (Co-ordinator of faithful project), Rev Ian Parker from Forest Gate Methodist Church, Ali Khan (Administrator) from Minhaj Ul Quran International and Abdul Karim Sheikh (Chairman) from Newham North Islamic Association on Green Street E7

Rev Dr Chigor Chike from Emmanuel Church, Harvinder Singh Virdee and Maghar Singh Hunjan from Ramgarhia Sikh Gurdwara on Neville Road, Rev Canon Barnabas Matloon from Emmanuel Church (Co-ordinator of faithful project), Rev Ian Parker from Forest Gate Methodist Church, Ali Khan (Administrator) from Minhaj Ul Quran International and Abdul Karim Sheikh (Chairman) from Newham North Islamic Association on Green Street E7

Archant

A forum bringing together different religions in Forest Gate is planning its community work for this year.

Religion in Newham

40 per cent Christian

32 per cent Muslim

9.5 per cent no religion

8.8 per cent Hindu

6.4 per cent religion not stated

2.1 per cent Sikh

1.1 per cent Jewish

0.8 per cent Buddhist

0.4 per cent other

Source: Office of National Statistics Census 2011

Faithful Friends was set up in 2007 and is led by faith leaders from more than seven religious communities.

The group meets regularly to address issues that affect the lives of residents, with Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Sikhs, Hindus and both Sunni and Shia Muslims all involved.

The Rev Dr Chigor Chike, of Emmanuel Church, Forest Gate, said: “The idea is to promote friendship between people of different faiths, and none, in Forest Gate.

“Last year, we focused on health and the environment – what the different faiths have to say on those issues.

“First we looked at it from a secular angle by speaking to experts, with somebody from the National Health Service coming to speak to us about health. Then we explored this from the different religious perspectives.”

Dr Chike said the forum shares ideas to improve inter-religious understanding and inform the leaders’ work within communities

This year, the forum plans to look at the importance of family in modern society, working with young people, caring for the elderly and the effects of faith schools on society.

“The issues are important in themselves,” said Dr Chike. “For example, talking about health. That’s an important issue, and then taking that into the different religious centres – that’s affecting people’s lives.”

He added: “Sometimes faiths can appear as if they’re in competition. We see quite a lot of images of terrorism and so on. It’s good and important that there’s a positive message of people of different faiths – Christian, Muslim, Sikh – working together.”

The forum’s next meeting is on Monday.

For more information contact Emmanuel Church in Romford Road on 0208 522 1900

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