The Three Faiths Project—SGI-UK

by Gemma Novis, UK

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Participants in the 2013 Three Faiths Project [© SGI-UK]

In 2008, 24 young people aged 18–26 including Muslims, Black Christians and SGI Buddhists from South London embarked on an innovative and dynamic project that was launched at the Tooting Islamic Centre and Mosque, South London, aimed at creating greater understanding and friendship between religious communities.

Initiated by SGI-UK, the “Three Faiths Community Project” was supported by a grant from the Home Office under its “Community Cohesion” program. It was one of around 20 projects then taking place around the UK, and the aim was to develop a respectful framework in which young people can transcend differences, build upon shared understandings and create a new and dynamic active citizenship.

The project is currently delivering its second program, with 15 young adults from Muslim, Christian and Buddhist faith groups meeting on a monthly basis at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, University of London, in Central London. The aim is to further enable young adults from different faith communities to interact and strengthen their leadership qualities and attributes—both in their own faith communities and in the wider community by creating trust and friendship with each other through experiential learning and group work.

related article SGI-Luxembourg Participates in Interfaith Concert SGI-Luxembourg Participates in Interfaith Concert On March 22, SGI-Luxembourg joined representatives of the various religious communities in the City of Luxembourg for the 6th Interfaith Concert. The concert was held at Luxembourg City Synagogue and organized by Action Groupe Inter-Religions (AGIR) of which SGI-Luxembourg is a member. The current participants include five Buddhist members representing SGI-UK, five Christian members and five Muslim members. The project is supported in terms of facilitation by the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, in partnership with SGI-UK and the Centre for Creative Collaboration, University of London.

The impact of the project in my own life has been huge. I have lived in South East London for 30 years. The housing estate I lived on was segregated according to race. In 1992, I moved to a school that was quite large and ethnically diverse. Soon after, in 1993, a local black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, was murdered in our area by a gang of white men.

This experience had a profound effect on my life. Following the Three Faiths training, I can see that racism only continues when our natural abilities of empathy, compassion and respect for all people are not cultivated or used. I am now much more confident in my ability to transform racism, and am encouraging others to do the same.

In 2010, I was a finalist in the national NHS Leadership Awards as Community Leader of the Year, and was offered funding for a project of my choosing. I chose to help fund a second round of the Three Faiths Project in London, and this has now been running since February 2013.

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