Adoption of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism

In December 2016, the Government formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism; the first European Union country to do so.
The definition, although legally non-binding, is an important tool for public bodies to understand how anti-Semitism manifests itself in the 21st century, as it gives examples of the kind of behaviours which depending on the circumstances could constitute anti-Semitism.

Read moreAdoption of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism

Footsteps Report September 2017

Report from Footsteps: Faiths for a Low Carbon Future

Footsteps has continued to benefit from being a project of BCF. It was founded in autumn 2015 around the time of the Paris conference on Climate change and is based on the interfaith Lambeth declaration. Footsteps has active Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Arya Samaj and Pagan members on the Planning Group, and we hope to have Sikhs and Buddhists engaged as well in future, as people of all faiths share a common concern for the future of our planet.

The main annual event is ‘Tread Lightly on this Earth’ held annually in National Interfaith Week. Last year it was held at the Birmingham Central Mosque and was attended by about 80 people of all faiths. There were a range of speakers, stalls and round table discussions. There will be a similar event this year on Sunday November 19th at the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and we hope to see you there – leaflets are available here. We also supported the inspiring Eco Church Weekend held at Streetly Methodist Church, and, later, the Environmental Workshop held by the Bahu Trust for Muslim Imams. Our summer programme for young people, Small Footsteps, took place at Fircroft College in Selly Oak this year and has built up a strong team of volunteers. About 20 children aged 11 – 14 attended for the 5 days 31st  July – 4th August, and enjoyed a range of well presented sessions, with a lot of hands on experiences. A video of the week is available.

Other events during the year included a tree planting day for young people in Balsall Heath Park and a forum at the University of Birmingham on ‘Faith, Ethics and Climate Change’, which included a buffet supper. We were invited to make a presentation for the Moseley Interfaith Forum in July and in the following discussion were encouraged to provide more written and website resources for churches and other places of worship.  In August a number of our members were joined by newcomers for the Foraging Walk along the River Cole, led by our Pagan member Rob Stacey. It was so fascinating that we hope to have another one next year.

In March the planning group spent a half day considering the future direction for Footsteps and we also ran two evenings of presentation skills training.

We are setting up a new Footsteps Supporters Group for individuals, groups, worshipping communities and others that share the Footsteps vision. Regular donations from supporters will help fund future events, our website and materials to support faith groups in taking action.  Information on how to join the Footsteps Supporters Group will be available on our website and leaflets are available here and from members of the planning group.


Footsteps Event Report: follow up for the ‘Small Footsteps 2016’

Thank you to all those who were able attend on Saturday 18th March when we planted 110 Wild Harvest Tree Saplings in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham (Pickwick Park – St Pauls Road and Balsall Heath Park – Longmore Street) in order make our playing areas more friendly as well as to promote food growth on trees. This activity was followed by a short litter pick of both areas.

Feedback from parents and children has been very positive and we have been asked to organise small environmental events on a regular basis (we will of course discuss this amongst ourselves and see what is possible).

Although it was a Footsteps led event, it was a collaboration with the Woodlands Trust and the Balsall Heath Forum, we have also had some wonderful and encouraging messages on the Footsteps twitter page.

A big thank you to Emad for arranging all the logistics and to Shabana and Misbah for preparing all the handmade sandwiches the night before. I would also like to communicate my appreciation to all the Footsteps committee members who either emailed their support or attended on the morning.


Faith in Birmingham Gallery

When the new Faith in Birmingham Gallery was opened at the Museum & Art Gallery last year, its focus was on six faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. But many more are practised in the city and we were told that changes would be made on a regular basis in the side cases dealing with the practical aspects of religious life. Obviously, large items owned by the Museum, such as the Sultanganj Buddha, the painting “Prayers in the Desert” and the stained glass window from the Black Country, would remain a constant; but even here loans from other museums might make a difference. So, for example, a beautiful 13th century stone statue of Ganesh on tour from the British Museum was ceremonially installed by the city’s Hindu community in September last year, in place of the Museum’s own example, and was on show for three months. Two successive ancient manuscripts of the Qur’an were likewise on display.

Meanwhile consultations with other communities were taking place behind the scenes, some involving members of BCF’s committee. The four faiths involved were Bahai, Jains, Mandaeans and Rastafarians. Having decided on appropriate items and collected them from households in the city, the changeover in the cases was made last month and celebrated at a ceremony in the Gallery on 18 March. Many of them centre on personal practice and reading in the home, but the statue of the Mahavir, founder of Jainism, stands out in a lighted case all its own. This replaces, for the moment anyway, the statue from the British Museum once on display in the former Buddha Gallery.

The new Gallery’s aim is to remind visitors that, beside their artistic value, religious artefacts are a central part of the spiritual life of Birmingham’s diverse communities. BCF has welcomed the opportunity to be involved in its development. And not the least benefit has been the opportunity to make new contacts and explore the possibilities of extending the coverage of our series of faith brochures still further!

Event: Understanding Judaism

‘Understanding Judaism’ was part of BCF’s series of events on Understanding Faiths. Event Speakers were Rabbi Margaret Jacobi of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue) and Mr Brian Cooper of Birmingham Hebrew Congregation). There was time allowed for discussion as well as a visit to the sanctuary with both Rabbi’s explaining what the artefacts around the sanctuary meant and the Scrolls were shown too with some Scrolls dating back to 1800’s.

The Event was open to all faiths and approximately 45 people attended the event.

At the end of the event, refreshments were served.

Celebrating Common Wealth Day outside Council House

Chair of BCF, Mr Tarang participates in celebrating Common Wealth Day outside Council House and hoists Common Wealth Flag. Participants to the event included the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and other dignitaries.

More details to follow.

Inter Faith Week 2016 Report

Each year, the Birmingham Council of Faith (BCF) creates a report on Inter Faith Week, and draws together a list of all events known to have taken place in Birmingham to mark the Week. These are drawn together for ease of reference.

The 2016 programme was built on the experience of the previous year with a total of 21 events in a slightly extended  week, most of which were organised by different faith bodies in membership or association with the Birmingham Council of Faiths. Over 500 people attended the wide variety of events which took place in different locations around the city and on its margins. These included the spiritual, artistic, remembrance, health and wellbeing.

Click here to read the full report.

Footsteps Event Report: ‘Tread Lightly on this Earth’

On 20th November, 80 people from different Birmingham faith communities and local groups came together at Birmingham Central Mosque to explore practical steps for a low carbon future.

We heard from local places of worship, young people and NGOs about actions that have been successfully taken in Birmingham.  Lively table discussions took place and the afternoon concluded by identifying action and making pledges.  The event ‘Tread Lightly on this Earth’ was organised by Footsteps as part of National Interfaith Week.  Thanks to everyone who participated and helped to make this event a success.

One participant commented: “we should all act as guardians of the Earth, whether we do so from a viewpoint of faith or otherwise. If large numbers of people take small actions to save energy, and live more sustainably, we can tackle climate change between us.  Joining this group made me feel I am not struggling on my own.”

Photo: Pat Nimmo.

Read the full report on Tread Lightly, and watch a video of 12 year old Ifsah, one of the young people who took part.

And if that has wetted your apetitie for Treading Lightly, we are pleased to announce that we hold another event during Interfaith Week 2017:

Tread Lighly on this Earth part 2
Sunday 19th November 2017

Watch our website for more details of all these events.  We look forward to joining with people of all faiths from Birmingham to take action for a low carbon future in 2017.