THE second Redditch Faith Walk has been hailed a magnificent success after close to 300 people took part yesterday (Sunday, April 17).
The event saw people of faith and no faith leave St Stephen’s Church in the town centre at 1pm for the short walk down to the new Redditch Central Mosque, the Masjid-e-Noor, in Jinnah Road.
There they observed prayers, took a tour of the building and participated in a question and answer session with representatives of Sikhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism.
Among those taking part were a representative of Her Majesty the Queen, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire Tricia Bradbury, as well as civic leaders including the Mayor of Redditch, Councillor Pattie Hill.
At the heart of the event was the ‘Redditch Pledge’ which stated: “We as people of Redditch, pledge ourselves as one united community, respecting all races, faiths and beliefs, to build on our common values to achieve happiness and progress for all. Everyone matter” and at the end of the day the assembled throng were invited to sign the Pledge.
“This has been a magnificent day; Redditch at its best, celebrating our diversity and unity through that diversity,” said Councillor Bill Hartnett, leader of the borough’s Labour Group who, together with local community worker Nitin Sodha helped develop the concept in the town.
“We had five speakers from five different religions and they all carried the same message: ‘It all starts from within’ and the rest flows from that,” added Coun Hartnett.
The Deputy Lord Lieutenant, who is alsothe Quaker chaplain at HM Prisons Birmingham and Wolverhampton, was equally enthralled by the day: “For me this has been a most memorable event, and I’m thoroughly grateful that the Lord Lieutenant asked me to represent him here for it is inspirational to come together in this way. This can only be positive.”
The Mayor, Coun Hill added: What has happened today by having the Deputy Lord Lieutenant here will go right back to the Queen. What has been done here needs to go out across the country and worldwide and we are the reason, because here in Redditch we are a wonderful community in a wonderful town.”
In a series of speeches to the assembled throng, speaker after speaker emphasised common values, the need for respect and friendship and communities standing together as a united front.
Imam Shahid Tameez said: “My grandfather came to this country about 50 years ago and he told my father ‘we live in this country and we need to respect this country and the people who live here’.
“My father passed this message on to me, for this is a wonderful country of opportunity – love and respect this is the message. We need to live together and love and respect each other.”
Workplace chaplain for Worcestershire Dick Johnson, emphasising the need for more interfaith dialogue, said: “When events happen in the world we as a community need to know each other well so that we can respond together because the more we can learn about each other the more we can become friends. We as faith groups need to stand up and be counted.”
Mr Sodha said: “The working group produced the Pledge as follows, we, as people of Redditch, pledge ourselves as one united community, respecting all races, faiths and beliefs, to build on our common values to achieve happiness and progress for all. Everyone matters.”
Coun Juliet Brunner, leader of the borough’s Conservative group said: It has been wonderful to see all faiths together – it just shows what a cohesive community we are.”
Local ward Coun Greg Chance added: “I am very, very proud to have been here and I want what has happened here today spread far and wide.”
The plan now is for the Pledge banners to be taken out across schools and community groups so that others have the opportunity to sign them.
Raf Hussain from Redditch Central Mosque added: “This Mosque was built to be a place of sanctity, peace and a place where members of our society, no matter what faith, can seek help , peace of mind and knowledge. It was built entirely of donations from the local community and is an example of what unity and vision can achieve.
“Today the good people of our wonderful town have moved this vision further forward on this path having set an inspiring example, that we the people of Redditch are one .
“We have our own faiths, beliefs, cultures and opinions which are a strength of a society, not a hindrance and should not be seen as obstacles but as what a multi cultural community can achieve .
“No matter what faith, race or community we are from, we all share a common humanity to support and help one another, that cannot and will not be allowed to be denied or manipulated by a very small minority who seek to stir division and hate.
“May we on behalf of her Majesty’s Muslim subjects take this opportunity to express our most sincere and best wishes for her Majesty’s Birthday. May Allah Swt shower her with good health and blessings.”