It’s only then days until Scottish Interfaith Week is starting. The theme for this year is “Creativity and the Arts”. During the last weeks several classes of 13 schools from all over Scotland have participated in our annual interfaith art competition. This year their task was to design an “Interfaith place of worship for the 21st century”. I think this is a wonderful task and the results which arrived Interfaith Scotland’s office during the last weeks are really great. The results of the competition will be announced at the Launch event of Scottish Interfaith Week on Monday the 13th November in Dundee but I want to take the opportunity to show how creative the children have been.
Some of them built beautiful colourful models, some painted very colourful pictures and some draw detailed plans.
Many of the teachers wrote us that they had very interesting and intense discussions in their classes. That shows me that the question how different religions can live together is not very abstract. The youngest participants in the competition came from a nursery and the oldest ones from secondary schools. All of them were able to bring their thoughts and ideas into creative form.
Unfortunately in reality Interfaith Places of Worship are a very rare phenomenon (even if they exist in some places), but I think it might be a good opportunity for different faith traditions:
On the one hand I’m thinking about growing faith communities who need more space and have to build a new building anyway. Why not saving costs and build together with another faith community or to connect to the building of another community as it happened in the example from Aberdeen, which I blogged about some weeks ago.
On the other hand I’m thinking of faith communities which are loosing members and have to give up their places of worship, as for example a lot of Christian churches in the UK and other countries are doing. Why not save money and share the building with another faith community and in this way keep the building open for worship?
Of course there are questions to discuss inside and between the two (or more) communities sharing a place of worship, as for example: Who is using which rooms in which way at which times? Are there shared facilities in the building or are the areas of the faith communities strictly separated?
And maybe the most important question: Can the faith community see a excess value in sharing a building with another faith community.
Looking at all this complicated questions I’m thinking of the different places of worship designed by the students and a quote from the bible comes to my mind: in the gospel of Matthew chapter 18 Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.“ Maybe some faith communities will follow this and become like the children in the interfaith art competition and start building their own interfaith places of worship.