Frontispiece to Adelard of Bath’s Latin translation of Euclid from the Arabic.
Ever since Adelard of Bath brought Greek, Arab and Hindu wisdom to the West in the c12th Bath has been assured of a special place in the history of learning between faiths. The religious traditions in Bath go far wider than Christianity; Bath was a holy site long before the Romans came, and in the mid 20th century it was for six years home to H.I.M Haile Selassie, worshipped as God incarnate by the Rastafari movement.
Bath’s more recent strong interfaith tradition includes local vicar, author and Three Faiths Forum co-founder Marcus Braybrooke, and the work done across major faith groups by Martin Palmer and the Bath-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation.
So it’s not surprising that it has a lively interfaith scene today, with an interfaith group founded in 1979 as Sharing the future in hope (Sharifh) by Dr Brian Pamplin. He was a scientist deeply interested in the relationship between science and religion who wanted a forum for open discussion and sharing of ideas and beliefs. Sharifh was renamed Bath Interfaith Group after his death, and continues to aim to overcome prejudice by learning about and sharing with each other. The Patron is the Mayor of Bath.
Bath IFG has two important dates coming up:
- The Bath Interfaith Group AGM is Monday 16 Jan 19:00 in the meeting room of the First Church of Christ Scientist, Claverton St, Widcombe, Bath BA2 4LE.
- The next Mayor of Bath’s MultiFaith Gathering is Sunday 5 February 2017, 14:45 in the Guildhall, Bath. Citizens and visitors are all welcome – see invitation below (with thanks to Bath IFG secretary Jane O’Hara).
All welcome at the Banqueting Room on Sunday 5 Feb.
Quakers are happy to work with other religious groups in the pursuit of common goals. The corporate advice on this is “while remaining faithful to Quaker insights, try to enter imaginatively into the life and witness of other communities of faith, creating together the bonds of friendship” – Advices & Queries para 6.
- Editor’s personal view (writing as a Quaker, but not on behalf of Quakers): The interfaith and multifaith work I first discovered hearing Marcus Braybrook speaking in the Friends’ Meeting House in Bath is a complete contrast to secular introspection or a brash evangelical approach to other traditions. Interfaith work doesn’t offend people, and doesn’t start wars. It’s hard, but outward-looking, global, humble, friendly, respectful, refreshing and exciting. The global achievements to date of the tiny local charity ARC underlines that this approach to faith groups can move mountains: they’re astonishing, and there’s more to come. It’s a brilliant way to discover diversity across the world and on our own doorstep. We’re really lucky that this tradition is so deep, strong and alive in Bath today.