Last Friday (25 November) a number of Thurrock’s ministers, clergy, pastors and church leaders gathered at the Beehive in Grays to discuss the idea of forming a Faith Forum.
The meeting was arranged by Graham Carey, Chair Thurrock Community Involvement Board. Addressing delegates were Cllr John Kent and Jenny Kartupelis of the East of England Faith Council, who gave a presentation. Jenny was supported by Stephen Harmer, the EEFC Faith Development Officer.
Graham said of the event, “I thought it was a lively and constructive few hours. The presentation by Jenny was informative and thought provoking. The support of Cllr John Kent and Cllr Phil Anderson was very encouraging.”
Graham referred to former attempts at setting up a similar Forum when he said, “I thought it was useful that some of the issues around previous dealings with the council were aired in a constructive manner and I believe that senior officers at the council are now very aware of some of the tensions that exist.”
“Equally I thought it right that the focus of the discussion was around people of faith establishing their own Forum for their own benefit and to follow their own agenda,” continued Graham. “As was mentioned at the meeting, having a structure through which people of faith can perhaps have an improved dialogue with senior staff at the council and other public sector agencies is to a great extent a side benefit of establishing a forum and it should not be the reason to establish one.”
The meeting agreed that a small working group would be established to take this work forward. Rev Darren Barlow (Grays Team Ministry) agreed to chair the group and Russell Godward (TCF), Cllr Yash Gupta (representing the Hindu community), Pastor Abraham Bamgbose (Fruitful Land, Tilbury) and Mr Gill (representing the Sikh community) agreed to work with him. This group will meet together in mid January.
Darren picked out one of the slides from the presentation that particularly struck him. It was a graphic headed The ‘C’ Scale, which consists of four developmental stages in any uniting organism:
Jenny had already observed that in Thurrock, relations across the faiths are probably at the co-operative stage, and so we are well placed to form a Forum. But Darren made the point that building cross-denominational community still is an ongoing process for the borough’s corporate Church, let alone in the creation of a Faith Forum.
The question arose at the meeting, “What would success look like?” John Kent suggested that two milestones would be indicative of success:
Neither of these have been agreed or settled upon yet but they may be worthy things to aim for. Next year is also the 75th anniversary of Thurrock as a borough.
Graham says to all the delegates, “Thank you again for giving your time, attending and contributing to the discussion.”
Delegates present from the Christian constituency were:
Other church group representatives:
The only two other representatives of other faiths present are mentioned in the article. Also present were council and CVS representatives.
Thanks to the Beehive and the folk at Thurrock CVS for their generosity and hospitality.
Photos from top: