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Birmingham - city of faiths; Faiths IN OUR CITY.

Byline: BHAI SAHIB MOHINDER SINGH

ACCORDING to a research paper "Birmingham has long had a reputation for its spirit of religious freedom and was regarded as a haven for dissenters two centuries ago."

Birmingham did not become a borough until 1838, by which time it was already home to members of many nonconformist sects.

The Society of Friends (Quakers) built their first Meeting House in 1663, the Baptists were established by 1737, the Congregationalists by 1747, and the first Methodist Chapel was built in 1782. Add to this the establishment of a Jewish community no later than 1730 and the building of the first permanent Roman Catholic Church in 1786 (five years before it became fully legal to do so), and it can be seen that Birmingham's reputation for freedom of worship is well deserved.

The middle of the 20th Century saw the arrival in Birmingham of very significant communities from the Indian sub-continent and the West Indies.

The first Mosque in Birmingham was established at Speedwell Road in 1941, the first Hindu Temple was opened at Hall Road in 1967, and the Graham Street Sikh Gurdwara was established in 1970.

At the dawn of the third millennium, humanity is at a crossroads and desperately craving hope.

The repository of this elusive hope surely lies in harnessing the Divine power to attain sustainable peace. All prophets had more spiritual than secular wealth and yet, they were able to bring about colossal reform and change.

Their spiritual wealth comprised liberal use of mercy, compassion, truthfulness, forgiveness, selflessness, humility and an abundance of love.

They established a model for us earthly beings to emulate.

Those within the interfaith context must take the lead in educating both their members as well as members of other faiths, about the commonalities between the faiths and the need to love and serve all of humanity.

This will ensure that we are not just tolerant of others, but that we are prepared to accept and respect, both our own and others' beliefs.

Indeed, that we are able to sacrifice the self for the other. Such a deep spiritual bond is the best way to ensure that this century becomes the century of peace.

In God's service, Bhai Sahib (Dr) Mohinder Singh, Chairperson, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (Birmingham) UK.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 24, 2007
Words:382
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