Column: Monthly reflection with Canon Hilary Barber, vicar of Halifax Minster - Bringing communities together
This is our Public Theology Series where we discuss in the public square things that really matter to society. Like everything in the Minster it can only happen in partnership with others, and on this occasion our partners were Holly Lynch MP, Calderdale Council, Calderdale College, Trinity Sixth Form Academy, and The Courier.
The event was aimed at young people aged 16-19, to try and engage with informed debate around the subject of Faith and Politics. This was supported by a number of colleagues from Calderdale Interfaith who could speak from different faith perspectives on the issues being raised. Muslims celebrated Ramadan, days after Christians have celebrated Easter, and the Sikh community Vaisakhi.
Readers will know that I regularly try to promote unity and social cohesion across Calderdale, as I fundamentally believe that our future in this world and on this island is about living in harmony, with each other and with the environment. One person who has promoted interfaith stability is our new King Charles III. Charles as Head of the Monarchy, and consequently Head of the Established Church, has made it clear that he sees himself as not only Defender of the Faith, but Defender of Faiths.
In the Coronation Service we shall see invited many people representing many of the faith communities now happily living here in the United Kingdom, and who participate fully in the life of society. Whilst there has been a rise in those who regard themselves as either secular or humanist, there remains a large and significant number of people who claim a religious faith.
During the Coronation Weekend, on the Sunday we are all encouraged to participate in some form of community Big Lunch, using the Coronation as a means of bringing communities together, sharing food and culture, neighbours in streets getting to know one another better, children learning to play together.
Last week I had the joy of meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury with the Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey to launch the Big Lunch initiative. People came from many different walks of life, including people of different faiths.
Even if you are not very keen on Royalty and things to do with the Coronation, one can always enjoy a Bank Holiday, and an excuse for a party! Here in Calderdale we try to exemplify a strong sense of kindness across the Borough, and the Big Lunch initiative provides another way of expressing kindness from street to street, and across our towns and villages.
There will be a civic celebration in the Minster on the Sunday morning at 10.30am led by the Mayor of Calderdale, the new High Sherriff, and the Lieutenancy for West Yorkshire, to which everyone is welcome to attend before going off for the Big Lunch in their locality. I won’t be around as I’m heading for Malmo, as President of Elland Silver Band for European Brass Band Championships. No doubt I will watch it all BBC iplayer when I get home!