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Sheffield Women’s Interfaith Forum

Sheffield Women's Interfaith Forum

On Sunday 15 October we met for ‘Food & Friendship’ at St Mary’s, Bramall Lane. As a group we have been meeting regularly since 2017 when we first gathered together. Our hope was to create a safe space and to break down the barriers between our differences through food, friendship and conversation.

On Sunday we met against backdrop of the most horrendous violence erupting within the Middle East. I felt an anxiety about meeting together: aware of the tensions and sensitivities within and between Jews and Muslims; Christians; supporters of Palestine and of Israel. If I am honest I did not want to meet – it all felt too difficult and painful.

We normally share some input from our different faith traditions and then have table conversations together. This time we had chosen to simply meet over food and talk … we didn’t know when we planned the meeting how important this decision to simply eat together would be.

We were fewer in number, about twenty of us, and noticeably about half had come for the first time: ‘We didn’t know what to do but just felt we needed to come’.

After the meal, stories were told … pains, deep pains but also hopes. There was something that happened as we shared from the heart. Somehow women seem drawn towards hope and an ability to share sorrows as sisters, and have a capacity to hold each other’s tears. We moved beyond words and held a silence together … a small candle was lit.

As women we wanted to share this story as a symbol of unity and friendship at a time of deep division between peoples of faith. It may be a small candle light in the face of a hurricane but a crack of light is all that is needed to cut through the darkness.

Revd Claire Dawson – Vicar St Mary’s Bramall Lane

Sheffield’s Women’s’ Interfaith Forum is run through a small interfaith steering group and host regular meetings throughout the year. For more information please contact