Portsmouth, 10th February:
At the end of this past January, Portsmouth Cathedral hosted the 22nd Annual Meeting of friends from the Wessex Jamaat and Portsmouth Cathedral communities. This annual gathering sees members of these faith communities join together for social activities, readings, and music, punctuated by an address from both communities, as well as good food and conversation.
Reflecting on some of the events and happenings of 2016 which have attempted to polarize people and communities, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, the Resident Alim/Imam of Wessex Jamaat, addressed the assembled friends with a message of hope and faith for 2017, “Let us strive to live with our neighbours with compassion, appreciate our differences, and rejoice in our common values and our common humanity. We all carry within ourselves the power to transform our communities, and when we come together, something truly magical can happen!”
This year, Portsmouth Cathedral has devoted its Annual Theme to environmental awareness within a dialogue of faith and spirituality called, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. The curator for the programme of events and activities, Sharon Court, devised a fun activity for all participants who attended the annual inter-faith meeting, which involved weaving. Friends of both communities were partnered up, with each pair given a small square of card and embroidery thread used to create a unique tapestry. Participants were invited to choose three strips of recycled fabric, meant to represent themselves, their faith and their family or community, and weave into a small work of art. Sharon Court observed, “As always, I was both gratified and encouraged to see people willingly and enthusiastically engaging with the activity. As they wove, they chatted about themselves and the fabric they had chosen.”
“This annual event on our calendar is one both the communities of Wessex Jamaat and Portsmouth Cathedral look forward to every year,” said Canon Peter Leonard, “this year our faith communities were able to get together and share in fellowship around a theme important to all of us, which is the environment and the stewardship of our planet.”
Participants enjoyed the evening at the Cathedral, with an opportunity to share and celebrate that which makes us different – and yet where we have so much in common. The next Annual Meeting of friends, held every year following the start of the New Year, will be met with anticipation.