We live in a time of tension. Events in the news have raised our awareness of immigration – legal and illegal – and of terrorism committed by some who claim to follow Islam. We are becoming fearful and suspicious of people who appear to be different from us.
Leaders of the churches and of the Muslim community in Sutton Coldfield have been in conversation with each other for some time now. We find we like each other as people. We find that our faiths our different, but worthy of mutual respect. We are committed to living alongside each other as friends.
So earlier this week, on Bank Holiday Monday, an event took place to underline that in a public way. Members of churches and the Islamic Centre joined together for a ‘Peace and Friendship Walk’. Two groups started out – one from the Town Gate, the other from the United Reformed Church at the Gracechurch Centre. We merged at the Town Hall and carried on to the Islamic Centre.
At the end of the walk we were all made very welcome by our Muslim hosts, not least by the offer of food! We had a great time – we knew that we were in some ways different, but that was no barrier to living in friendship and community.
Here in Sutton Coldfield we are fortunate. On the whole, we have a community where people of every race, faith and nationality live alongside each other in relative harmony. I pray that will never change!