Linking and sharing with the faith communities of South London
IT STARTED IN LAMBETH
It started in Lambeth – at St Matthew’s Church in Brixton – in the year 2000. In November that year, South London Inter Faith Group organised a Vigil of Prayer for Peace, with special emphasis on Jerusalem and the Middle East. The following year, just after 9/11, the event took place on Remembrance Sunday and since then the theme has been ‘Inter Faith Prayers for Peace on Remembrance Sunday’. Sarah Thorley provided a visual focus – the peace candle – which has been used each year up to the present.
As may be seen, the candle and the surrounding incense sticks stand at the centre of a disc bearing the words Salaam, Shalom, Shanti and Peace, along with symbols of six faith traditions. Over the years the word ‘peace’ in a variety of languages has been added, as have symbols of other faith traditions.
After 5 years at St Matthew’s, Brixton, the event moved to Southwark Cathedral at London Bridge in 2005, and again in 2006, as South London Inter Faith Group marked its 25th anniversary year. An important development came in 2007 when Kingston Mosque hosted the event which up to then had only taken place in Christian venues. Then in 2008 another innovation when South London Inter Faith Group linked with Greenwich Multi Faith Forum in a Multi Faith Act of Remembrance at Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum at Woolwich. The date was specially significant. Not only was it Remembrance Sunday, 90 years on from 1918, but also 9 November, 70 years on from Kristalnacht. As the peace candle was lit by a young Muslim boy, a Zoroastrian prayer was prayed:
Be thou our light, O Lord of light. We grope in the dark; scatter the darkness. Shed thy guiding light on our darkened path, and lead us onward on our way to thy abode of eternal light. Let thy radiance fall upon us that we may live in thy light.
In 2009 the Remembrance Sunday event returned to Southwark Cathedral and was held jointly with the World Congress of Faiths as part of the Cathedral’s ‘World Faiths Season’. The death of Harry Patch, ‘the last British Tommy’, had been a significant event during 2009. See That’s when I lost them.