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Week 7 saw campus host its annual Inter-Faith Week. This is an important event which takes place every year at Lancaster University, and aims to explore the diversity and culture that our campus enjoys by appreciating many types of religion.
The point of the week is to raise awareness of different faiths in the UK and the work they do, as well as bring together all the religious groupings and faith systems at the University to discuss and learn from each other. To achieve this, a range of events, from tours of religious buildings to evening vigils took place, and welcomed all in a mission to explore the question of ‘religion’.
Jennifer Ossei-Williams, the Equal Opportunities Officer for Furness College spoke to SCAN, giving an outline of the week. On Monday, there was a stall in Alexandra Square displaying religious paintings, pictures, symbols and depictions of charitable work going on around the world. A raffle was held on every item in the stall, with all proceeds being given to Oxfam and Amnesty International.
On Tuesday, a film-screening of The Prince of Egypt was hosted by Lancaster University Cinema and all were invited to join in the proceedings. Wednesday provided an exciting opportunity for all to discover interesting new forms of worship by taking an informative tour of the Preston Hindu Temple in the afternoon. This provided attendees with an exciting opportunity to explore the Temple and ask questions. Thursday included a chance for people to bring their faith and their viewpoints to a Faith Share Question Time. People were invited to the Chaplaincy Centre to discuss the question, ‘Is religion oppressive?’ Ossei-Williams described the event as a “lively interactive debate with some of the University’s most experienced intellectuals”, and added that it provided an amazing chance to brainstorm the topic of religion. Finally, there was a vigil in the Chaplaincy Centre on Friday evening, with readings from various sacred texts and a live performance of a various types of meditative music.
Ossei-Williams said she had been particularly looking forward to the tour of the Preston Hindu Temple as it would be “an educational, eye opening experience”. Speaking of Thursday’s Faith Share Question Time, which featured both academic speakers and religious leaders, Ossei-Williams added that it was “interesting to see both academic theology and spiritual theology clash, and […] debate on what most people see religion as”. She also thought that the vigil was a fantastic way to finish off, as it was a “calm meditative way to end the week”.
Ossei-Williams hopes that the week will not only raise awareness for charitable causes around the world that link in with religions, such as Oxfam, but that it will also encourage people to think about religion more on a personal level, and encourage them to abandon the oppressive, constrictive stereotype it often receives in the media. All in all, Inter-faith Week provided a chance to start viewing religion in a new light.