Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Silent witness

We had another Faith Focus group this evening, comprising three Anglicans, one Sikh and a Hindu, sadly a third of the people on the invitation list. Our agenda always starts by looking a bit thin and unattractive, but it's what emerges from the meeting and its discussions that makes it worthwhile, once we've managed to bring up to date those who have not been present at the previous few meetings!

Sure, people may read minutes, but always require the courtesy of an explanation of their content, making progress somewhat slow. However, there's generally a new item of interest brought to the table by someone. Tonight Cllr Jaswant Singh raised the topic of Community Radio, and how it might be possible, in the context of the new shopping centre and library, to have a city centre broadcasting project that could enable many different local community groups to share their music and their stories, in their different languages as well as in Welsh or English. So, the group now wishes to enquire if broadcasting facilities are planned for inclusion in the new centre, and if so, how faith groups might be included as contributors to establishing them.

Next meeting we are hoping to hear from the shopping centre architects about their proposals for the inclusion of a 'quiet room' for prayer and reflection. It's part of the plan, but so far nothing tangible has been proposed. Each faith group will have something different to say about this, possibly incompatible things to say. The need to express the spiritual dimension of one's faith we all have in common but we do so in different ways. Everyone has their habits and their 'wants'. Are these reconcilable in one facility? It's a facility for everyone to be able to use, not just some. It's a test, not so much for the architect as for the faith groups.

The developers are making the offer of accomodation to the spiritual needs of some among the consumer public. If there's no possibility of compromise, of mutual accomodation, the redundant empty space for a 'quiet room' will bear silent witness as a reproach to all believers.

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