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Three-faith pulpit swap aims to unite religious communities

Amy Horsfield

amyh@baylismedia.co.uk

An imam, a vicar and a rabbi will swap pulpits for an inter-faith venture starting tomorrow (Friday).

Maidenhead Synagogue’s Dr Jonathan Romain, All Saints vicar Jeremy Harris and Maidenhead Mosque imam Abid Hashmi will be preaching to each other’s congregations.

The swap is Rabbi Romain’s idea, which came about following the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.

He said: “Like most people I’ve been appalled by the violence that’s occurred in Pittsburgh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.”

He added: “I felt the religious leaders had to rise to the challenge and show that, while we cannot control what extremists do, mainstream communities can forge a better way forward.

"We already have hundreds of interfaith groups around the country, but polite cups of tea are not enough.

"Swapping pulpits will be a powerful message to our three communities and to wider society.

“We want to show people that underneath all faiths is a commonality.”

Rabbi Romain wants to demonstrate publicly that Jews, Christians and Muslims can practise their own religions and live in harmony with each other.

“A pulpit swap is predicated on a high degree of trust – both by the incumbent minister to open up his pulpit, and by the congregation to tolerate hearing from a different faith,” he said.

Beginning the inter-faith pulpit swap on Friday has added significance as it coincides with Maimouna –  the only time in the year in which both Jews and Muslims celebrate a particular occasion together.

“We hope this will serve as a pilot project that will be emulated throughout the UK,” said Rabbi Romain.

The rabbi will start the process by preaching at the mosque during prayers tomorrow and will later preach at All Saints Church.

Imam Hashmi will then preach at the synagogue and church, while Rev Harris will visit the synagogue and mosque. Rev Harris will be at the mosque on Friday, May 3, while the other dates are still being arranged.

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