The Scottish Episcopal Church has a proud record of engagement in interfaith relations in Scotland. Principally this is carried out through involvement in the national body, Interfaith Scotland, and local interfaith groups (see Interfaith Scotland website for details of groups local to you). Interfaith Scotland works ‘to help ensure good relations between the diverse religion and belief communities of Scotland and also to share good practice in interfaith dialogue, education, engagement and training nationally and internationally’.
Interfaith Scotland also acts as secretariat for the Scottish Religious Leaders Forum ‘dedicated to improving relationships between Scotland’s religious communities.’ In September 2022 the Forum held its 20th anniversary at the Abbey on the Island of Iona. While there, they signed a Declaration of Commitment.
A Multi-Faith Vigil was held in Glasgow at the start of COP26 at which leaders from the Forum read out the Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26, which can be read here.
Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees
The Scottish Episcopal Church provides regular grants to Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees. The website provides a number of helpful resources in the way of information, prayers and liturgies, as well as strategies for individuals and churches in providing support for those seeking safe sanctuary. More information is available at www.sfar.org.uk
Interfaith Relations Committee
Our Interfaith Relations Committee (previously know as CRPOF) exists to encourage an engagement of Episcopalians with people of other faiths that moves us beyond tolerance, that challenges prejudice and that deepens our faith through hospitality and encounter.
The 2011 census underlined the extent of the diversity within Scotland, particularly in our urban areas, and it is important to build bridges in a culture of fragmentation, where diversity and difference, we are sometimes told, lead only to conflict.
Our experience is that the opposite can be true: that people from the range of faith communities present in Scotland truly welcome and value approaches from other faiths.
A first step is to overcome our ignorance and fear through learning about the living heart of another’s faith, but beyond that, we can move into joint action, and robust conversation about our differences.
The dynamics of inter-faith encounter were explored in a Grosvenor Essay produced by CRPOF in 2006. Apart from those mentioned above, the current Inter Faith Relations Committee engages with a variety of organisations, included below.
The Just Festival
The Episcopal Church has been a leading developer of the Just Festival in Edinburgh, which has a strong interfaith dimension.
CTBI – Churches Together in Britain & Ireland
The Scottish Episcopal Church participates with CTBI through two forums. One is the Churches Forum for Inter-Religious Relations CFIRR, bringing together representatives from participating churches in sharing experience and contextual issues. The other is the Inter Faith Theological Advisory Group, IFTAG. The advisory group provides a number of helpful resources, listed below:
- #HerFaithMatters: A collection of reflections from women of faith and their experiences working within challenging contexts.
- Acting in God’s Love
- Fifty Years of Dialogue: Embracing the Past, Envisioning the Future
CTBI also provides helpful links with the Christian-Muslim Forum, currently working on developing a response to Islamophobia within the UK, and with the Council of Christians & Jews. A helpful perspective on dialogue between Christians and Jews can be downloaded here, and this next document is a helpful guide for churches, individuals, and groups in participating in Holocaust Memorial Day (this document changes annually)
There is a general ‘Interfaith’ page with other helpful links here.
World Council of Churches
The convener of the Inter Faith Relations Committee contributed to the WCC document Building Interreligious Solidarity in Our Wounded World.
The WCC 2022 World Assembly invited Prof. Azza Karam, secretary general of Religions for Peace International to address the gathering. More information can be found here. There is also a UK branch of Religions for Peace with which the IFRC is in contact.