Annual Report of Activities 2016

This year saw a varied and very full programme at LIFC with activities across all areas of focus, supported by the leadership of its two co-Directors, Reverend Maggie Hindley (URC) and Reverend Laurence Hillel (Church of England), and the guidance of its trustee body.  The year culminated with the retirement of Reverend Maggie Hindley.

A major focus of the Centre is in resourcing, delivering courses and talks around the theme of inter faith.  Our Certificate course run for a fifth time drew to a close in December 2016.  The modular structure enabled individuals to join classes during the course, and this combined with opening some of the talks to the general public meant that our attendance was healthy throughout.  A core group of nine remained with us throughout the course and received Certificates, but in all around thirty individuals attended at one time or another.

We also had a varied programme of speakers both on Sunday’s and Monday’s with a dozen talks over the year.  It has been the overall impression that encouraging people to attend on a Sunday evening is challenging, and we will experiment in 2017 with a programme on weekday evenings.

A highlight of the year has been two week long festivals built around two art exhibitions, one displaying stories from the Forgiveness Project, the other based on Non-Violence.  Each festival consisted of a major forum event and workshops/talks on the respective themes.  They were aimed at encouraging participation from school students, local neighbours and Friends of LIFC.  The quality of the exhibitions and the input from visiting speakers/workshop leaders was high quality, and attendance at all events was consistently respectable without being overwhelming.  The Festivals were made possible by grants from the URC, Near Neighbours, Victoria mission hall fund and the Edith Ellis Fund.  We thank all our benefactors without whose support the work would not have been possible.

Other activities in the annual programme included the ongoing meetings of the Abrahamic scriptural reasoning group (six over the whole year) and the Book Group which focused on a theme of “exiles and outsiders”.  There was also a new initiative in a practical/theoretical exploration of the different traditions of meditation within the world religions, which replaced the Texts to Live By scriptural reasoning group. Resources on the website have continued to be developed.

In terms of partnering, our relationships with our neighbouring institutions continue to flourish.  For a second year running we held a literary event bringing together local primary schools of different faith persuasions in a common activity.  Sadly a similar sports event had to be cancelled due to the weather.  The local Muslim secondary schools have also been invited to participate in our activities and they have proven willing partners.  Engagement between ourselves and faith leaders of other world faiths has continued to develop at both a theological and practical level, formally and informally.  We have made our links with Brent Multi Faith Forum and the Council a priority.   A meeting was held in July at LIFC to which local religious and community leaders were invited in order to share experiences in relation to islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

LIFC has continued to take a lead in the local branch of London Citizens.  The focus of the work was in the area of housing, support of refugees and the mayoral election in May 2016.  Moreover Reverend Maggie Hindley continued to use her expertise to support initiatives in work with refugees, especially in the area of hosting.

In terms of Responding, meditation groups have continued to meet regularly at the centre.  These include the Wednesday Silence, sponsored by LIFC, and the Thursday Zen group.  The mechanisms for these groups to continue after Maggie’s retirement have been put into place.  Of course the practical work of the Centre and its global/regional focus is supported by the daily prayer of the two church communities who act as our hosts, namely St Anne’s and St Andrew’s

In addition to all these activities the officers have developed their links with their own respective church organisations, and have supported the work of a range of charities involved in inter faith work.  Particular mention is worthy of links with Christian-Muslim forum and CCJ.

Our year ended with a grand farewell in an evening of music and prose in honour of Reverend Maggie Hindley’s contribution to the work of LIFC.  There were many warm expressions of appreciations of her work and the evening provided an opportunity for a celebratory party and a presentation to Maggie of a gift from the trustees and friends of LIFC.

Obviously LIFC now enters a period of transition as we await a replacement for Maggie.  The work of the Centre will continue in many of the areas covered by our report, but it will be limited by the presence for the moment of only one officer.

We would like to thank the church communities of St Anne’s and St Andrew’s for their continued support of their work, and the provision of the space which enables that work to prosper.  We also wish to thank all the individuals and communities who have set an example of hospitality in welcoming the officers and friends to their own centres of worship.