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Inter-Religious Affairs

by glynch last modified 06 Jul, 2020 11:18 AM

The Diocese works to promote good relations and deeper understanding between Christians and people of other faiths.


  • Advises the Bishop of Salisbury on work with other religions
  • Promotes good relations between Christians and other faiths in the Diocese
  • Encourages church people to learn more about the teaching and practice of other religions


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Latest News
The Inter Faith Network 
Key Resources

We should always "be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us, but with gentleness and respect" and we must remember that people of other faiths are also loved by God, and can be touched by Him when they pray.

“Inter-religious understanding and engagement is just as important in areas like this Diocese where minority faiths are small. Stereotypes arise more easily where people rarely meet those of other faiths.” - Canon Guy Wilkinson

The Diocese has relatively small communities belonging to faiths other than Christianity, although there is a well established Jewish community in the Greater Bournemouth-Poole area, and small communities of Muslims in several of the larger towns, most notably in Trowbridge, Poole, and Salisbury. There are individuals belonging to all major world faiths scattered across the Diocese.

Among New Religious Movements, the neopagan movement is larger in Wiltshire than almost anywhere else in the country.

Bishop Nicholas regularly writes to leaders of other religions in the Diocese around major festivals, to extend good wishes and recognise their contribution to the common good.

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The Jewish Festival of Hanukkah, or the Festival of Rededication, begins this year on 2nd December and continues through to the 10th December. It celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. Although it is a late addition to the Jewish liturgical calendar, the eight-day festival of Hanukkah has become a beloved and joyous holiday. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and usually takes place in December, at the time of year when the days are shortest in the northern hemisphere.


Historical Origins of Hanukkah

Beginning in 167 BCE, the Jews of Judea rose up in revolt against the oppression of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire. The military leader of the first phase of the revolt was Judah the Maccabee, the eldest son of the priest Mattityahu (Mattathias). In the autumn of 164, Judah and his followers were able to capture the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been turned into a pagan shrine. They cleansed it and rededicated it to Israel’s God. This event was observed in an eight-day celebration, which was patterned on Sukkot, the autumn festival of huts. Much later rabbinic tradition ascribes the length of the festival to a miraculous small amount of oil that burned for eight days.

How to Celebrate Hanukkah at Home

Much of the activity of Hanukkah takes place at home. Central to the holiday is the lighting of the hanukkiah or menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum to which one candle is added on each night of the holiday until it is ablaze with light on the eighth night. In commemoration of the legendary cruse of oil, it is traditional to eat foods fried in oil. The most familiar Hanukkah foods are the European (Ashkenazi) potato pancakes, or latkes, and the Israeli favorite, jelly donuts, or sufganiyot.  The tradition developed in Europe to give small amounts of money as well as nuts and raisins to children at this time. Under the influence of Christmas, which takes place around the same time of year, Hanukkah has evolved into the central gift-giving holiday in the Jewish calendar in the Western world.

Celebrating Hanukkah in the Community

Since Hanukkah is not biblically ordained, the liturgy for the holiday is not well developed. It is actually a quite minor festival. However, it has become one of the most beloved of Jewish holidays. In an act of defiance against those in the past and in the present who would root out Jewish practice, the observance of Hanukkah has assumed a visible community aspect.  Jews will often gather for communal celebrations and public candle lighting. At such celebrations, Hanukkah songs are sung and traditional games such as dreidel are played.

Hanukkah’s Theology and Themes

Like Passover, Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the liberation from oppression. It also provides a strong argument in favour of freedom of worship and religion. In spite of the human action that is commemorated, never far from the surface is the theology that the liberation was possible only thanks to the miraculous support of the Divine.


Inter Faith Week 2018: A week to focus on inter faith understanding and cooperation

Inter Faith Week 2018 - 11-18 November

Inter faith cooperation and understanding are ever more important. Do join in and be part of this very special Week!

Inter Faith Week’s aims are to:

  • Strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels
  • Increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
  • Increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs

Further information can be found on the About page and background on the History page

More information about Scottish Interfaith Week, led by Interfaith Scotland, can be found here

Quick links

Salisbury City Council unanimously adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism

Following the antisemitic vandalising of the Holocaust Memorial tree in Churchill Gardens earlier in the year and the Salisbury statement on antisemitism in 2017, Councillor Derek Brown, with the full support of Bishop Nicholas and Jewish representatives, brought a motion to the City Council at its latest meeting.

The Council unanimously adopted the resolution adopting the IHRA definition and those that spoke “expressed their anger, dismay and revulsion that there are some in our City/society who were prepared to act in the way they did”.

A new tree – a myrtle – has been sourced and will be planted in due course. The myrtle tree reflects the quotation from Isaiah 55.13: “Instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree: an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off”

The definition reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”, and is followed by a series of examples which are part of the definition

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The Inter Faith Network of the UK

If you like to see a glimpse of the extent of inter faith engagement, you can see something of it in the Newsletter of the Inter Faith Network of the UK here. It's well worth a look and points to a number of current areas  of national importance.

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The Church Urban Fund Near Neighbours programme seeks to bring people together who are near neighbours in communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse, so that they can get to know each other better, build relationships of trust, and collaborate together on initiatives that improve the local community they live in. Learn more at

The Church of England Presence & Engagement programme helps parishes be a truly national Church in areas of high religious diversity, following report to General Synod Presence and Engagement: the churches' task in a multi Faith society. It encourages and supports the mission and ministry of parishes and other Anglican communities in multi-religious contexts, supported by the Church of England's national Adviser on Inter Faith relations.

The BBC website has a useful introductory guide to the beliefs of a wide variety of religions - visit it here.

Porvoo Guidelines: inter-religious encounter in churches of the Porvoo Communion
The Porvoo Communion draws together Anglican churches from Britain and Ireland with Lutheran churches from Scandinavia and the Baltic. These guidelines emerged from a consultation held in Oslo in December 2003. They have no official status, but offer some practical pointers on pastoral issues.

Inter Faith Marriage Guidelines: advice from a Christian perspective.

Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON) of the Anglican Communion.

The Bournemouth and Wessex Branch of the Council of Christians and Jews meets 4-5 times per year. More details at

Bishop Nicholas has asked people to consider supporting the work of the Friends of the Holy Land, and has forwarded a letter from the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem. Those seeking more information on FHL locally can contact Canon Jeremy Cresswell by e-mail.

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