Recent events

Chris Hewer

A full house at the Friends Meeting House were entertained and informed by the internationally reknowned speaker on Christian/Muslem relationships, Dr Chris Hower. Chris gave us a overview of the history of Islam, its range and divergences and brought these tensions into the modern world to help to explain some of the reasons behind conflicts and disputes across the middle east and beyond.

Salvation Army talk

A good number of CIF members braved a wet and windy night to attend a witty and informative talk on the works of the Salvation Army. Our speaker, Paul Stanford, gave us a great insight into the wide range of activities conducted by ‘The Army’ both locally and internationally.

Unitarian Talk

Can you spot our speaker Mark Hutchinson of Cheltenham and Gloucester Unitarians glowing in “the Light of approval”? A lively audience of CIF members and friends were put in festive spirit with tasty multi-cultural treats and mulled (non-alc) wine, and very much enjoyed. Mark’s informative and entertaining talk was on the history of Unitarians both worldwide and locally. Such was the level of interest that a lively question-and-answer session had to be drawn to a close by Chair Jack as CIF ends its 2019 season.

We hope to see you again soon in the new year.

Interfaith Week

Gloucester Pride

Three weddings

A lively evening learning about the customs and tradition of weddings across different faiths. Made all the more enjoyable by some delicious food before the meeting.

Oxford Friendship Walk

On June 27th several members joined the Oxford InterFaith Friendship Walk which
departed from the Jewish Centre in Richmond Road and arrived at the Central Mosque for a meal provided by the Mosque and the Jewish Community. Stopping for prayers, scripture readings and reflections at many points through the City with contributions from all the
world’s main religions.


Who are the Humanists? What are their beliefs? How are they different, and similar, to an Atheist, a Secularist and other non-faith groups? These and other questions formed part of the illuminating and interesting talk by Humanist celebrant Hannah Hart of the Gloucestershire Humanists. It was a lively session with lots of interaction between our members and Hannah! She handled a range of questions and comments from the audience with great skill and empathy.

An evening well spent at the Hester’s Way Community Centre.

January 14th  2016


Marianne Rankin, the Director of Communications for the Alistair Hardy Trust, a body that collects and analyses world wide spiritual experiences, spoke from an extensive knowledge of more than 10,000 reported cases.

February 4th  2016

“Integrity and Integration

Richard McKay, Roman Catholic Parish Priest of the multi-ethnic St Paul’s district of Bristol, spoke on this subject.  With 65 different language groups using his church and his parish hosting an important Refugee and Asylum Seeker Centre, Father Richard spoke from first hand experience of the challenges faced by refugees of different faiths and the need for greater understanding by government and local authorities.

 March 10th  2016

We enjoyed a  talk from Dr Harriett Crabtree, Director of the Interfaith Network of the UK, to which CIF is affiliated.  The topic for the evening was “Interfaith Relations in the UK today”.

Dr Crabtree studied, lived and worked at the Centre for the Study of World Religions  at Harvard Divinity School for many years.

 April 11th  2016 Professor Trevor Cooling spoke on “The Role of Religious Education in community cohesion”.  Professor Cooling is Chair of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales and Professor of Religious Education at Christ Church University, Canterbury.
 May 3rd  2016   We enjoyed a Severn Forum Lecture from Chris Hewer.

“Christianity and Islam: Similar Problems, Different Solutions?” – How we handle texts and what are the limits of compromise? Chris Hewer was formerly Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Bishop of Birmingham and is a Fellow of St Ethelburga Centre of Reconciliation, London.  He works full time in Christian-Muslim relations, has published many popular books and is very well known internationally.

 May 25th 2016  “Islamic Art” A fully illustrated talk was given by Barbara Curry in Winchcombe Methodist Church Hall.

This was an interesting view of the work of artists, glaziers, potters and calligraphers from every part of the Arab world from medieval times and with reference to the teaching of the Quran’an.

 June 2nd 2016

Oxford InterFaith Friendship Walk.

The group joined the walk  and departed from the Jewish Centre in Richmond Road and arrived at the Central Mosque for a meal provided by the Mosque and the Jewish Community. Stopping for prayers, scripture readings and reflections at many points through the City with contributions from all the world’s main religions.

 June 6th 2016  “Refugees and Asylum Seekers – meeting their religious needs” 

At the Cheltenham Friends Meeting House. Adele Owen, Director of Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers spoke on this urgent issue.

June 2016 Youth interfaith Iftar (evening meal to break the Muslim fast)

This was held in Lambeth palace shortly after the referendum on Brexit.  It was well attended and both the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sadiq Khan were present

 October 6th 2016  “Scriptural Reasoning among people of different faiths”  Dr Georgina Jardim  led us in an exercise of scriptural reasoning from the Bible and the Qur’an.  This is an emerging practice of people from different faiths, reading their scriptures together.  Interfaith dialogue is broadened by this practice – engagement of people from different faith backgrounds.
 November 13th- 20th


 The major event for the 2016 Interfaith Week was the ‘Welcoming of the Outsider’.  It was an interfaith response to the current Refugee Crisis.  We were delighted at the high university student response.  The event was jointly arranged by CIF, the University and Cheltenham Borough Council.  ‘Scriptural Reasoning’ formed part of the evening led by Dr Georgina Jardim when we looked at teachings about welcoming the stranger to the Koran and Bible.

A Syrian couple spoke of their welcome locally after the flight from Syria.  We watched a film made by students about the work of GARAS (Gloucestershire Association for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and another about celebrities whose families had found welcome refuge in our country in the past.

There was plenty of time for group discussion and interacting with local people of all faiths.  It was an excellent evening that contributed greatly to local interfaith understanding and was well covered by BBC Radio Gloucester.



January 26th  2017

“The Holocaust remembered

The suffering of so many was remembered with a service in the Council Chamber, Municipal Offices of Cheltenham Borough Council.After the act of remembrance there was time to view an exhibition around the theme and refreshments were served.

February 4th  2016

“Srebrinicia Remembered

A talk on Religious Reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia was given by

Anousheh Hagdadi – the Secretary of ‘Srebrinica Remembered’.

We listened and learned from what had been achieved by those seeking peace and reconciliation following the war so close to our own country.

 July 2nd 2018

Reverend Andrew Ashdown

 Syria-Beyond the Narrative of Western Media

A very different narrative about Syria

 10th July 2018

A day in the life of….  a Hindu, a Muslim, a Jew and a Druid


 13th February 2018

A panel discussion with Christian,  Muslim and Bahai and Buddhist speakers

 ‘Fasting – its meaning and significance for today’


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