A vibrant Multi-Faith service took place at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on Sunday 28th October, when members of the Jewish and Sufi Muslim communities joined the local congregation for a celebration of faith.
The worship programme included prayers for peace from different traditions, songs from Muslim and Jewish women, as well as Christian hymns. A theological justification for joint worship was given by Orthodox Rabbi Ariel Abel, who travelled from Liverpool to co-lead the service, with members of his synagogue.
Tribute was paid to the victims of the racist shootings the previous day at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in America, where up to 11members of that congregation were killed by an extreme-right gunman. A minute’s silence was held in their memory, and candles lit.
A central theme of the service at Padiham was ‘The Sanctity of Women in Faith and Community’, and the 70-strong congregation heard talks as well as prayers from Jewish, Christian and Muslim women. The day ended with a shared meal.
The Minister at Padiham Unitarian Chapel, Rev Jim Corrigall, said afterwards: ‘We were honoured that Rabbi Ariel Abel and members of his congregation joined us this year … we’ve had successful joint services with Sufi Muslims at our Chapel for the past several years, but this was the first led by three different faiths.’
“People sometimes ask how we can worship together, but our differences are not that great. Our faiths are known as the three Abrahamic religions (we all come from Abraham), and also the three great Monotheistic faiths (believers in One God). We showed today, I believe, just how joyous joint worship can be.
Also playing leading roles in the service were Rev Shannon Ledbetter, an Anglican priest currently working with Padiham Unitarians, Sadia Bashir, a Muslim schoolteacher, and Sufis from the Free Spiritual Centre in Nelson.