In 2006, the young people of Methodism challenged the Church to dedicate a month to prayer for improved relationships between people of different faiths. They pointed to the 'hostile and untrue' things that are said about some faiths, particularly Islam. Inter faith action, they decided, was hugely important as a way of challenging this. And the first step could be prayer.
The Methodist Conference rose to the challenge and the 'Face 2 Faith' initiative, taking place across the Church in February 2007, is the result.
Churches are encouraged to take part in three ways: by praying for better inter faith relations in Britain and the world, by doing something to encourage inter faith understanding in their community and by entering a Face 2 Faith photo competition, which will be launched during February.
Dr Elizabeth Harris, Methodist Secretary for Inter Faith Relations, said ‚ÄúThis is a great opportunity for churches to pray and act for something that is incredibly important - trust and respect between people of different faiths. In today‚Äôs society, religious groups can often become stereotyped and polarised, and this month is about breaking down those boundaries so that we can move forward with people of other faiths, learning and working together. Churches are already responding with enthusiasm and we‚Äôre looking forward to hearing the many exciting stories that will come out of Face 2 Faith.‚Äù
Each church or circuit is being encouraged to respond in its own way, looking at what‚Äôs appropriate for each community.
Newham Methodist Circuit has decided to use February as a month of education, helping their congregations to understand why these issues are so important, and Chris Cornell, a past President of the Methodist Youth Conference, plans to organise a church visit to his local mosque or temple.
For those looking to find out more about Face 2 Faith, or get involved, a website www.face2faith.org.uk offers ideas and resources.
Visitors to the site can find out how to set up a prayer-room in their church - a creative and relaxing space to pray for their communities and the world. They can also find prayer ideas, and read and share stories about what inter faith relations mean to them. Churches may also wish to use May I Call You Friend?; a new resource designed to help Christians to consider the issues involved in sharing their faith with those of other religions.