Interfaith Council for Wales urges caution for worship

Leaders of Wales’ faith communities are urging worshippers to reflect particularly carefully on how they gather for services during Christmas and the New Year.

While places of worship can open for services in Level Four of lockdown, members of the Interfaith Council for Wales are calling for caution and for people’s safety to be the priority in response to the rapidly changing situation around the transmission of Covid-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic Wales’ faith communities have worked closely together, deepening bonds of friendship. They have remained in regular contact with Welsh Government, seeking always to protect lives and to ensure the safety of the public. That remains the case as Christmas approaches and worshippers from a diversity of faiths reflect on the significance of a major Christian festival.

Kate McColgan, Chair of the Interfaith Council for Wales, said, “Given the rapidly changing circumstances it’s vital that we reflect on our own wellbeing as worshippers and the safety of others we may come into contact with.”

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, said, “The true meaning of Christmas is about putting other people first, showing them love and compassion. It is in this spirit that I urge those holding services and those attending to be thoughtful and considerate and to be sensible, rather than sentimental. The welfare and safety of all must be our priority.”

The Reverend Gethin Rhys, of Cytûn: Churches Together in Wales highlighted the importance of conducting risk assessments. He said, “Welsh Government would remind us that the health situation in Wales is currently very serious, and all risk assessments should begin by asking the question: Given the inherent risks involved do I need to engage in this activity at all? Are there safer alternatives such as broadcast?”

Siân Rees, Director of Evangelical Alliance, Wales underlined the importance of adhering to procedures such as social distancing, hand sanitising and refraining from congregational singing.  She said, “Gathering for corporate worship is an important component of Christian life, perhaps more so at Christmas. Churches also provide essential support networks for those with spiritual, mental health or practical needs. We fully acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic and the duty of care churches have to ensure that congregants are kept safe.”

Speaking for the Muslim Council of Wales Dr Abdul-Azim Ahmed said, “Places of worship are among the safest places in Wales during the pandemic, we are glad the Welsh Government has recognised this and allowed them to remain open. It’s vital worshippers take special care to attend only when absolutely safe to do so. Careless attendance may harm many others.”

In response to the Interfaith Council’s statement, Jane Hutt, Deputy First Minister and Chief Whip said:

“I have worked closely with faith leaders and groups throughout the pandemic. Faith plays an essential part in many people’s lives, and I recognise how important communal worship is for faith communities.

“In all of my many meetings with faith leaders across Wales this year, and in all of my interactions with those of faith, I have been impressed by their incredible efforts to keep places of worship safe for communal worship. I am also aware of the important work they have been doing in their own local communities, supporting and reaching out to those in need during this difficult and uncertain time, and exemplifying more than ever the best of who they are.

“I know that the restrictions on communal worship continue to be difficult for many congregations, but that does not mean that those of faith have stepped back – indeed it has been quite the opposite.”

Kate McColgan, Chair of the Interfaith Council for Wales

COVID-19 Statement

Interfaith Council for Wales

The leaders of the Interfaith Council for Wales have issued a joint plea asking Wales’ faith communities to ensure that their buildings are not used for acts of public worship or public gatherings until further notice due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Interfaith Council, which includes in its membership most of Wales’ faith communities, issues this urgent plea in line with Government guidance and the advice offered by Public Health Wales. It also underlines the guidance and instructions already issued by most faith community leaders in Wales. Guidance has been offered concerning worshipping at home or through other appropriate means.

In these challenging times, the Interfaith Council for Wales urges faith communities to nurture and protect each other by following the advice offered by Welsh Government and Public Health Wales in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The leaders of the Interfaith Council for Wales state “As people of faith we should not place each other’s health at risk by meeting contrary to known advice. Nor should we pose a risk to those in the wider community who may come into contact with us. We should play our part, without being compelled to do so, in ensuring the wellbeing of others and our communities.”

Kate McColgan (Chair)

Surinder Channa (Vice Chair)

Aled Edwards (Secretary)

Saleem Kidwain (Treasurer)

Interfaith Events in July

Author: Chris Abbas of the Baha’i community

1st July:

Five members of the Interfaith Council attended the First Minister’s celebration of 20 years of Devolution. The event took place in Cathays Park. I was pleased that it was acknowledged by Mark Drakeford in his short address, that for the first 10 years of Devolution there was no Interfaith Council, and now he couldn’t see how we could carry on without it (or words to that effect).


4th/5th July:

Lampeter University Interfaith Colloquium. Both Viv Bartlett (Baha’i) and Saleem Kidwai (Mulsim Council of Wales) were speakers at this year’s event. They were talking about Practices of Justice in a multi-faith society.

(Photo courtesy of Lampeter University)

9th July:

Faiths in Focus – the Martyrdom of the Báb – in Newport at Community House. Over 40  people attended the first event in this initiative to be hosted by the Bahá’ís. Many were from the Interfaith community whilst others were from the police, education and various other organisations. The story was told in a variety of ways, such as music, dramatic readings and video and everyone was invited to contribute their understandings on sacrifice whether in our own lives or the lives of the great Founders of all faiths.

(Photo courtesy of Deb Robinson)

Eid Celebration

The Muslim Council of Wales and the Interfaith Council for Wales would like to kindly invite you to our Eid Celebration event. This will be held on Thursday 6th June 2019 at Dar-Ul Isra Mosque, 21-23 Wyverne Road, Cardiff CF24 4BG.

The Muslim Council of Wales and the Interfaith Council for Wales would like to kindly invite you to our Eid Celebration event. This will be held on Thursday 6th June 2019 at Dar-Ul Isra Mosque, 21-23 Wyverne Road, Cardiff CF24 4BG.

As you may know, the Islamic month of Ramadan will end in the first week of June. Muslims across the world will be celebrating the festival of Eid. We would like to warmly invite you to share in these celebrations with the Cardiff Muslim community.

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what Eid and Ramadan means to Muslims. You are welcome to hear about how Welsh Muslims celebrate Eid, ask questions, have your name written in beautiful Arabic calligraphy and taste the various world foods eaten at Welsh homes during the festival.

Please find below a brief programme of the evening:

6:00pm Drinks reception

6:30pm Short presentations

7:30pm World food tasting and networking

8:00pm Carrriages

In order to RSVP, please kindly email secretary@darulisra.org.uk. We look forward to sharing your company.

Interfaith Fire Ceremony

The Interfaith Fire Ceremony at Aro Ling Cardiff was a joyful occasion. The weather was perfect for an outdoor event, and everyone enjoyed taking part in celebrating Buddha Day.

First Ngakma Nor’dzin gave a short talk on the significance of Buddha Day for Buddhists, and the format of the ceremony itself.

The fire was created over a mandala, and oil was poured onto it as an offering throughout the ceremony.

A thread-cross was burned at the end of the ceremony. The woven threads symbolise the elements earth, water, fire, air, and space, using the colours yellow, white, red, green, and blue. The elements represent physical and psychological qualities. The threads are woven to decrease distortion of the elements, and to increase the enlightened qualities.

After the ceremony, while the fire was still lively, those attending were invited to place messages in the fire. The symbolism of burning messages is to let go of something unhelpful, such as a grudge or an irritation, and to effectuate something helpful, such as a good wish for someone, or a personal aspiration.