The beauty of the contents and of the production of Faith Initiative reflects the beautiful spirits of those who contribute, edit and design the journal. I thank them and congratulate them on this the 25th edition, which marks the 10th anniversary of the first edition and on gaining the Shap Award for 2011.
Faith initiative points us a fellowship of the spirit which is a deeper place of meeting than 'social cohesion' - valuable as that is. It offers the public a creative image of the power of spirituality and religion to help us embrace diversity, which can enrich us all.
Faith Initiative deserves to be far more widely read and better promoted by the faith communities. I wish a generous donor would make it possible to have copies of Faith Initiative in every doctor's and dentist's surgery.
Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource (SIFRE) has been a grateful recipient of the Faith Initiative magazine since it was first launched. Over the years, we have had our copies on display and have consequently had great difficulty keeping track of individual issues - which just shows how much they are appreciated! Resisting the temptation to hide them away so we have them available for reference, we are now intending to make them a focal point for our various study groups. These meet monthly in a range of venues around Suffolk and take various forms - Shared Stories of the Abrahamic faiths, East meets West in Suffolk, Book groups, Topical Issues, "Come over to my House" and so on. Some of them are very scholarly and high powered, others are quite informal. The plan is to make copies of the magazines available to these groups, either as basic study material or for people to draw on for use as reflections at the beginning or ending of meetings. Our hope is that this will encourage individuals to sign up as subscribers themselves.
It is a wonderful journal and deserves to be widely disseminated. We particularly appreciate the fact that it is so inclusive and imaginative in its contents and outreach.
Faith Initiative has, over the last ten years, made a great contribution to the important and exciting growth of understanding, at the deepest level, of the faiths that sustain this country.
Spiritual diversity is a Blessing not a threat. The diversity our editors have picked up in spiritual experience and motivation is extraordinary. Through prayer, practice and personal experience; through the stories past down to us and through the Arts they have unwrapped the wealth of experience that enriches our country today.
For myself it has been the photographs and poems that have been particularly significant. Long may Faith Initiative continue in this vital work.
I feel highly privileged to have had an association with the magazine as the Vice Chair of URI UK, since its beginning ten years ago. It is remarkable that we are on the 25th issue, which is a great achievement especially as there have been tremendous challenges and very difficult circumstances on the way.
I have great admiration for Heather Wells and Lorna Douglas for whom the production of the magazine has been much more than a labour of love. For URI UK and EUROPE and to a degree for URI globally, this magazine provided a great source of inspiration and pride especially in their formative years. The Editorial Board, all volunteers, ably led by Heather Wells, are committed practitioners of their own faith and of interfaith. Each issue is a joy to behold, to read and to savour- keynote personal reflections by eminent theologians and faith leaders on key chosen themes that embrace diversity in faith and spirituality, and through a range of articles on topical and sensitive issues, poetry, art and book reviews. Over this period the magazine has become widely known and of great value and appeal to those who may wish to learn about other faiths and to develop inter-religious conversations to explore richness in diversity.
I was particularly pleased to learn that recently the magazine received an award from the highly respected Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education (founded in 1969) for its contribution in the field. This award is very well deserved and really fortuitous that it has been received in this celebratory year.
My heartiest congratulations and may the magazine continue to flourish and provide readers with spiritual sustenance and wellbeing for many decades to come!