Peace Pledge Project Symposium

Interfaith leaders standing together in front of the International Peace Palace, The Hague

Interfaith leaders standing together in front of the International Peace Palace, The Hague

International interfaith luminaries took part in the Peace Pledge Project Symposium, held at various venues in the Netherlands on 11th-14th September 2017.

The three-day symposium included:

  • ‘Virtues of the Heart’ sessions, involving interfaith inspiration, dialogue and sharing educational best practice, held at the Universal Sufi Temple, Katwijk, and the Sufi Centre, The Hague.
  • ’Relate your Heart to your Business’, ‘Water for Life’, and ‘70 Years of diplomatic friendship between The Netherlands and India’ sessions, involving politicians, business and spiritual leaders, held at The International Peace Palace, The Hague.

The event was sponsored by the Universal Sufi Council, led by Dr. Professor Johannes Witteveen, former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, along with Brigitte van Baren, Director of Inner Sense, Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute and Pir Shabda Kahn, Spiritual Director of the Sufi Ruhaniat International.

The main theme woven throughout the sessions emphasised spreading the message of Loving Kindness and Compassion through the whole of humanity, as expressed in the “PEACE PLEDGE” (attached below), in addition to connecting the water experts of the Netherlands with the need for water purification in India.

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman of GNNSJ, commented, “to create peace in the

Imam Umer A. Ilyasi, Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Prof. Johannes Witteveen and Brigitte van Baren collectively lighting the peace flame at the Peace Flame Monument, International Peace Palace, The Hague.

Imam Umer A. Ilyasi, Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Prof. Johannes Witteveen and Brigitte van Baren collectively lighting the peace flame at the Peace Flame Monument, International Peace Palace, The Hague.

world around us, we must all nurture peace within ourselves. We do this through the practice of divine virtues, including loving-kindness and compassion, which empower us to earnestly control our human vices. In this light, this Peace Pledge is to be highly commended.”

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, co-founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, said, “the growing water crisis and countless drying water bodies across the globe is a concern for every individual and every nation, hence it is wonderful that this dialogue and call for collective action is taking place from the International Peace Palace, because without safe and sufficient water there can be no peace. Hence, it is time for us to join together across faiths to work as one for clean water, sanitation and hygiene for all, so that every child is allowed the opportunity not just to survive but to truly thrive.”

Interfaith leaders joining hands together at the Universal Sufi Temple, Katwijk.

Interfaith leaders joining hands together at the Universal Sufi Temple, Katwijk.

The Symposium was infused with divinely inspired music throughout. Such music plays a pivotal role in the Sufi faith, as well as other faiths, with the central inspiration being the Tawhid, the Islamic concept of the oneness of God, as expressed in the prayer “La ilaha illallah”, meaning “there is no God but God”.

UN Secretary General and Religious Leaders Unite to Launch Plan of Action to Prevent and Counter Incitement to Violence

Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres meets with religous leaders.

The first ever plan of action designed to prevent incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity violence was launched on 14 July 2017, at a meeting held today in the ECOSOC chambers at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The plan of action was developed by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, with the support of KAICIID, the World Council of Churches and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

The event was inaugurated by Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres; Under Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng; and Secretary-General of KAICIID, Faisal Bin Muaammar. Amongst a number of religious leaders of individual communities from around the world, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Chairman and Religious Leader of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha UK, provided a Sikh perspective on the panel discussing the role of religious leaders in preventing incitement to violence.

Bhai Sahib Ji commented, ““This Plan of Action and the process by which it has been developed is highly commended.

Mr Adama Dieng the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide meets with Bhai Sahib.

The misuse of religion to provoke violence is a symptom of diseased minds. To eliminate this disease at the source, we must lovingly liberate our minds through empowering ourselves with the values of compassion, truthfulness, selfless contentment, humility and love. Only peace within oneself can lead to peace around us.”

Implementation of the Plan of Action will contribute to the prevention of atrocity crimes, especially in areas affected by religious and sectarian tensions and violence and enhance the respect, protection and promotion of human rights, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of religion or belief and peaceful assembly.

At the launch meeting, religious leaders, the United Nations, Member States, and civil society began discussing strategies for the implementation of the Plan of Action and the coordination between religious leaders and implementing agencies.  Important next steps include the dissemination of the Action Plan among Member States, relevant UN agencies and other stakeholders.

ENDS

For further information, contact and full resolution photographs: info@gnnsj.org

UK Sikh Community Joins Millions in Global Prayer to End Famine

On Sunday 21st May 2017, Religions for Peace (RfP), joined with 70 organizations around the world, including the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, to support the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine, an initiative co-led by the World Council of Churches. People of all faiths joined together in places of worship across the globe, to collectively pray for peace for all, and for the end of suffering from famine.

The initiative, headed by Rev Olav Tveit (Co-President of Religions for Peace), aims to address what the UN has defined as the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. The global day of prayer flooded social media and international news sources, raising awareness of the enormity of the famine problem, as well as attracting messages of support from both people experiencing the crisis, and those working to end it.

Among the various religious communities showing their commitment to fostering a world without famine was the Sikh community, with a 24 million worldwide population. The Sikh daily prayer is for ‘Sarbat da Bhalla,’ the well-being of all.

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh (International Trustee and Co-President of Religions for Peace, Chairman of the UK-based Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha) led the Sikh response to the interfaith call to prayer, and joined over 500 community members in reciting a sacred text, the Prayer for Peace and Well-Being, written by the Fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev Ji, in the seventeenth century.

The prayer was held at the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara, based on Soho Road, Handsworth, Birmingham. The powerful prayer lasted over 90 minutes, and was recited by the entire congregation, who stood with joined hands in prayer, to implore the Almighty to forgive humanity for its sins, and to bring relief to those suffering from the pain of famine. The prayer was followed by ‘Kirtan’, the singing of sacred hymns.

 

World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017 Event on Forgiving and Reconciling in a Contemporary World: A call to action

Group photo of some of the attendees at the end of the event

The event opened with a prayer invoking God’s mercy and blessings. ‘The Power of Forgiveness and Reconciliation in our Contemporary World’ was the title of the forum on peace held on 4th February 2017 by the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation. The event was attended by a diverse audience with people from many different faith groups and parts of the world.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh addresses the audience.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh addresses the audience.

The event supported by Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and hosted by the Nishkam Civic Association, took place during World Interfaith Harmony Week (UN resolution of 2010). The Charter has been supported and developed by a number of organisations including the Fetzer Institute, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, and Religions for Peace.

Dr Josef Boehle, Director of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, spoke first, reading out part of the Statement of Vision and Purpose, which states that “the activity of forgiving is vital if healing and reconciliation is to take place, as part of our collective efforts to seek restorative justice and sustainable peace.”

“Fostering and practicing forgiveness has the power to transform deep-seated responses

Tariq Jahan raises the emotional level by sharing a heart moving experience

Tariq Jahan raises the emotional level by sharing a heart moving experience

to memories and legacies of injustice, conflict and war. It can liberate people from being imprisoned in their pasts and long ingrained mental and emotional conditions created by such legacies.”

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Chairman of the Nishkam Civic Association and Co-Convenor of the Charter, spoke of forgiveness as originating from the Divine, and said a prayer, which spoke of seeking God’s help. He went on to speak about how forgiveness is essential in a   fractured world, and that “the whole of humanity is one family” who are all “interconnected and interdependent”. The root cause of conflict was also touched upon: “everything starts in the human mind. Humanity needs to start address the human mind very seriously”

John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral

John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral

Tariq Jahan, who suffered a personal tragedy when his son was killed during riots in 2011, gave a touching speech about his feelings and questions over forgiveness: ‘Do I forgive? How much do I really forgive? Then I think, how much does God forgive? He forgives all of us, on a daily basis. We all make mistakes.” Following the event, Tariq Jahan stated that “events like this soothe the heart”, and added that “we need to include the youth into these processes. As it is the younger generation who are the future and also need to learn about forgiveness.”

The bombing of Coventry Cathedral in 1940 led to an astonishing example of forgiveness

Ciaran Norris Director of Rising shared a perspective from Coventry & Global input

Ciaran Norris Director of Rising shared a perspective from Coventry & Global input

and reconciliation. The Dean of Coventry Cathedral, John Witcombe, was among the speakers, and reflected on the values of “honesty, hope and healing” which were integral to the rebuilding of the Cathedral following the bombing, and how the ruins represented a “physical embodiment of what happens in a world where we cannot work together.”

Ciaran Norris, Director of Rising Global Peace Forum, which is based in Coventry, spoke about having the capacity to forgive in a society where “things we have taken for certain are no longer certain”, and where facts are often distorted and the truth becomes difficult to find.

Rana Nazir, Founder British Kashmiri Women's Council

Rana Nazir, Founder British Kashmiri Women’s Council

Rana Nazir, founder of the British Kashmiri Women’s Council, reflecting on the long history of suffering and violent conflicts in the world and in Kashmir, highlighted the urgency that we “need to make our world a peaceful sanctuary for everyone.  Reconciliation is forgiveness in action – forgiveness and reconciliation can lead to a stronger bond than previously existed.”

Jorge Ravagli Cardona, a PhD Student from the University of Birmingham, provided an overview of the history of the decades-long conflict in Colombia and the recent peace agreement reached there between the government and the FARC. Looking forward he emphasized that “the messages themselves of dialogue for conflict-resolution and of forgiveness have to transcend the

Prof Pal Ahluwalia, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth

Prof Pal Ahluwalia, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth

political realm directly involved in the negotiation and reach the people, in order to transform the vicious circle of hate, insensitivity and exclusion.”

Mr Bill Ozanne conveyed greetings from the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, and recalled parts of an address Pope Francis gave at the Interreligious Audience on 3rd November 2016 during the Jubilee Year of Mercy of the Roman-Catholic Church.

Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth, stated that “forgiveness and compassion are powerful instruments”, and underlined the importance for both individuals and the whole world to “rise above malice”.

Attendees discuss Forgiveness & Reconciliation in group workshops

Attendees discuss Forgiveness & Reconciliation in group workshops

The forum featured video clips of His Holiness Pope Francis, HM Queen Elizabeth II, and as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, sent his apologies for the event, his New Year 2017 message talking about forgiveness and reconciliation was shared with all the attendees. This was followed by other religious leaders from different faiths speaking on the subject of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. Pope Francis, in his speech at Clementine Hall on 3rd November 2016, said “forgiveness is surely the greatest gift we can give to others because it is the most costly. Yet at the same time, it is what makes us most like God.”

Speaking about the forum, Dr Josef Boehle stated “The Peace Forum on Forgiveness and Reconciliation takes place today as part of World Interfaith Harmony week in Birmingham. The vision of the Charter is to make a contribution to processes of forgiveness and reconciliation not only between individuals, communities and states, but also between faith traditions.”

Bhai Sahib, also speaking on the forum and the nature of forgiveness, stated that “the highest and the best form of human generosity and benevolence is forgiveness”. He then summarised and closed the event a prayer of thanks.

The event was clearly a landmark development in the journey towards sharing, inviting input and inspiring collaboration from like-minded people in support of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation. The participants left the event full of praise having been part of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017 event at the Nishkam Centre.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information:

Sikh migration project launch: How will you tell your story?

Guests at the launch of ‘My Story-Our Journey’ at the Nishkam Centre

Guests at the launch of ‘My Story-Our Journey’ at the Nishkam Centre

“We are all refugees and migrants on this planet”, said Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh (OBE KSG, Chairman of Nishkam Civic Association), during the launch of the Sikh Migration research project at the Nishkam Centre on 25th January 2017 to an audience keen to participate in the project. “Where did I come from? “Where are your roots? What is my destination?”

The questions posed describe the essence of the project ‘My Story- Our Journey’, launched by the Nishkam Civic Association. The Sikh migration project, secured a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), aims to capture the retrospective journey of the Sikh population in Birmingham and the Black Country, from the first generation to the current day, through collecting oral histories from those who have experienced and grown up with the migrant journey.

The launch was attended by the project’s steering committee members, which included Councillor Preet K Gill (Sandwell) Suwinder Bains, Partnership and Community Engagement Manager (Birmingham City Council), Jasbir Singh Uppal (University of Wolverhampton), Manjeet

Guests arriving, networking and sharing stories

Guests arriving, networking and sharing stories

Kaur (Media and Heritage Volunteer) and Surinder Singh, Electoral officer (Sandwell) who said “As a person who has a strong connection with working in both Birmingham and the Black Country it was wonderful to see so many people showing a passionate interest and also a willingness to work together on this unique project. With this passion and energy I am sure ‘My Story – Our Journey’ will create a lasting legacy for the contribution of the Sikh Community in our region and  we look forward to seeing and hearing some wonderful and amazing stories”

The diverse audience also included author Jatinder Kaur, who is currently promoting her recent biography of her father, Bhai Sahib Rajinder Singh Ji, titled ‘Chalda Vaheer Jatha: A Spiritual Journey’.

Jatinder briefly spoke about her father’s journey to the UK, settling in Dudley, and the motives behind the transition. She wrote the biography with the help of her father’s diary, which was his ‘voice and guidance’ in writing the book. In her journey in capturing his story, she conducted face-to-face interviews with each person he had met on his international travels in promoting Sikh values, and discovered first-hand the feelings behind the stories of persecution and challenged identity.

Jatinder Kaur: Author of 'Chalda Vaheer Jatha: A Spiritual Journey'.

Jatinder Kaur: Author of ‘Chalda Vaheer Jatha: A Spiritual Journey’.

Rachel Chui (HLF, Committee Member for the West Midlands) was also among the speakers. After hearing the detailed account of the aims and timescales of the project, she spoke about her thoughts on the research: “Heritage is about the intangible – you can’t touch stories. People from all walks of life can contribute to the various histories and shared experiences.” Rachel poignantly added that we have “more in common than our differences.”

Ajit Singh, Contracts Manager (Nishkam Centre) and Inderdeep Kaur Shambi, Project Lead, gave a detailed account of how the project started, and the proposed deliverables.

The project aims to record and collate 30 oral histories, ranging from first generation migrants to the present, and whilst doing so, recruit and train a large number of volunteers with a variety of skills. Photographs will also be collected, which will be used in the touring exhibitions at a number of high profile locations, including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, University of Wolverhampton among many others.

A website will also be developed, to include all the collated research in an accessible and user-friendly format. The project will leave a visible legacy after its completion, in the form of a publication and all contributions will be archived at the Library of Birmingham and Sandwell Archives and an education toolkit will be developed for local schools, encouraging young students to learn about oral history, stories and migration in fun and engaging ways.

The launch received positive feedback from those who attended, Ravinderjit Kaur Briah, a lecturer at De Montfort University, said the project

Listening attentively on how ‘My Story – Our Journey’ will be encapsulated

Listening attentively on how ‘My Story – Our Journey’ will be encapsulated

was an “inspiration”, and this had been a “long time coming and well overdue”. She added that the project would “provide a springboard for so many other projects, and will leave a lasting legacy.”

The ‘My Story-Our Journey’ project has already received coverage from BBC Midlands Today and is capturing the attention of not only the Sikh community, but also all those intrigued by remembering and sharing stories which would otherwise be left untold and

uncaptured.  Satnam Rana (Midlands Today) discussed with the team possible future input and her own very personal stories.

In order to create a full tapestry of Sikh migration in Birmingham and The Black Country the project is looking to interview and collaborate with a diverse range of Sikh voices as well as collate personal photographs that depict moments in time.

The project is also keen to capture experiences of non-Sikh people who have had experiences or opportunities of working or living with Sikhs.

If you would like to share your story or volunteer to help with the project, please get in touch with Inderdeep Kaur at inderdeep.kaur@ncauk.org or visit http://nishkamcentre.org/arts-culture-heritage/birmingham-black-country-sikh-migration-story/volunteer-project/

bnf   nc

Birmingham & Black Country Sikh Migration Story project up and running thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund

big-lottery

The Nishkam Civic Association has been granted £80,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to develop and deliver a project on ‘The Birmingham & Black Country Sikh Migration Story’. The project will capture the retrospective journey of the Sikh population in Birmingham and the Black Country, from the first generation to the current day.

The research will explore the sociological, political and economic perspectives to gain a rounded, contextual understanding of the migration. The project will not only focus on the history of the collective migration drivers, but also on individual narratives, to truly understand the change and impact on each migrant life. The famous Mandla vs Lee case will be explored, as an example of how the migrants worked with, and mostly resolved, the inevitable clash of cultures and ideals.

Vanessa Harbar, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “We’re delighted that HLF support will enable the Nishkam Civic Association to capture the rich heritage of Sikh migration in Birmingham and the Black Country. The research will help members of the Sikh community, as well as the wider community, to explore and appreciate the economic, cultural and social contribution of their forebears. Thank you to the National Lottery Players who have made this possible.”

The project which has taken nearly two years to develop will involve collaborations with a number of organisations, including Birmingham Museum Trust, University of Wolverhampton, Library of Birmingham, Sandwell Archives Services, Nishkam School Trust, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Sandwell MBC and many more.

Volunteers for the project will engage with first, second and third generation Sikhs to capture their individual stories of migration, and historical research will be carried out to contextualise the Sikh migration experience. A touring exhibition will also be curated for display in the main gallery of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for a number of months, after which it will be displayed in other prominent locations over the West Midlands.

Toolkits will be developed for local schools to accompany their learning, and a publication will also be produced, capturing the research and outputs of the project. A microsite will be will be used to collate the research, share the oral history ‘stories’ and photographs, videos and other findings. Archives will eventually be deposited at the Library of Birmingham and at Sandwell Archive Services, so the history of how the Sikhs came to Birmingham and the Black Country can be accessed by all now and in the future.

Sewa Singh Mandla (Trustee, Nishkam Civic Association) stated: ‘We greatly appreciate the contribution made towards the project by HLF, as it will mean the history of the Sikhs migrating to Birmingham and the Black Country will not go undocumented. The research will give us a deeper insight into how lives were (and are) impacted by this change, and will allow us to reflect on the great endurance and strength demonstrated by the Sikh migrants.’

For more information about the project, please contact Ajit Ubhi, Nishkam Civic Association.

 

ENDS

Notes to editors

About Nishkam Civic Association

The Nishkam Civic Association (NCA) was established in 2003, a relatively new and unique organisation charged with the task of developing a dynamic Sikh faith inspired civic agenda. It is one of the Five Centres for Excellence founded by Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ), a Sikh faith-based organisation dedicated to nishkam sewa (active, selfless volunteering) to serve the common good. For more information, visit http://www.nishkamcentre.org/about-us/

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK.

http://www.hlf.org.uk

For further information, images and interviews, please contact

Ajit Ubhi at Nishkam Civic Association on ajit.singh@ncauk.org.uk

 

 

Students host exciting interfaith concert

Start Now Oxford performers 2Talented students from local Christian schools and the Nishkam School, supported by musicians and a whole host of volunteers will make special appearances during the “Start Now” concert with international musicians Gen Verde, on Wednesday 2nd December, 7.30pm at Elgar Hall, University of Birmingham.

The Gen Verde band are members of the Focolare Movement founded by Chiara Lubich, and this concert project is a creative partnership with the Nishkam Educations Trust

From Sunday 29th November the young local performers will be rehearsing with Gen Verde at Nishkam School, getting ready for Start Now Oxford performers 1aWednesday’s concert, when it is hoped many family, friends and members of the local community will attend this celebration of hope and shared commitment to build a better society through religious principles.

Accomplished drummers from our community will welcome Gen Verde to the stage ready for a concert of musical styles that reflect the 13 different nationalities among the band, as well as the contributions of our Birmingham youth.

Songs will express themes such as compassion, peace, forgiveness and ecology.

For more information or to reserve tickets please ring Patricia Whitney or Mary Cass on 0121 406 3650 / 07790 716887 /or email patriciawhitney@gmail.com

 

 

St Chads Cathedral vigil for Syria and refugees attracts cross community support

Some of the invited guests at the Vigil (Picture courtesy of St Chad’s Cathedral website)

Some of the invited guests at the Vigil (Picture courtesy of St Chad’s Cathedral website)

On Tuesday 6th October, Birmingham’s St Chad’s Cathedral hosted a vigil for all the refugees that were suffering across the world and in particular Syria. The event saw people from all walks of life and faith denominations come together to show solidarity with refugees.

The Vigil was open to all. Representatives of many faiths were invited and prayers and reflections were recited on the night. The aim of the event was to remember the thousands who had died escaping war and its consequences, to recognise the plight of those who have fled and now languished in refugee camps. The formal part of the evening started at 7pm and concluded at 8.15pm followed by refreshments and an opportunity to speak to some of the refugees present and those involved in providing essential services to them. The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley made the formal welcome to the Cathedral.

The Nishkam Centre Director, Amrick Singh, said ”We were glad to have been there amongst friends. The solidarity shown and the genuine heartfelt belief that together we must do something was good to see. To have talked to and heard the recollections from asylum seekers and refugees from Syria, the Ivory Coast Sudan, Eritrea, Iran and Nigeria was emotionally distressing and moving”.The essence of the prayers and hymns was to remember the refugees who had died seeking safety from conflict and those who were still suffering. The general feeling of many was they felt quite helpless yet turned to faith for solace and to pray for those affected. So far more than 2,600 migrants are known to have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Amrick went on to applaud the selfless service undertaken. ”The service provided across the City of Birmingham by those of faith and no faith is quite remarkable. St Chad’s Sanctuary in collaboration with the Salvation Army offers a hearty welcome and support to destitute refugees on a daily basis; the food banks providing essential supplies and the Nishkam Homeless Help project and Midland Langar Sewa providing hot vegetarian meals, is a show of that solidarity and humaneness that we desperately need to see more of. We are reminded by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who recently said that we should all remember, ‘I am not my brother’s keeper; I am my brother’s brother’. If we all remembered that lives of many would improve substantially.

It was evident that the refugee situation had affected people of all ages and this was evident by the diversity of ages represented at the vigil. Our very own Nishkam Primary School and Nishkam High School uniforms we clearly and proudly donned on the night.  At the beginning of the vigil the Most Reverend Bernard Longley announced to the congregation the presence of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha and Nishkam representatives and formally welcomed them. He later spoke passionately to the Nishkam School students and reminded them that St Chad’s was the Cathedral where Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE received his Papal Knighthood in 2014.

END

Notes to Editors:

For more information:

 

 

Health experts and faith communities explore the way forward on End of Life Care

GNNSJ (c) 2015 - 25

The Nishkam Healthcare Trust held a conference on 18th May on ‘End of life care – the Role of Faith and Hope’. The event was a collaboration with Birmingham healthcare commissioners in order to give voice to community needs at the end of life. Faith communities took to the stage to offer personal experiences and reflections on the role of faith, and the Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG were given the opportunity to engage with the public on their new End of Life Care model.  The conference theme of ‘faith and hope’ was reflected in the keenness to share insights at a human and inter-religious level to further enhance services for End of Life Care.

GNNSJ (c) 2015 - 3The event coincided with the Health Service Ombudsman’s recent announcement concerning end of life care that, “doctors and nurses must involve patients and their families in decisions about their care’’. Transparency was a key theme for the event, presenting the opportunity to inform and involve the public on a new strategy for end of life care.

The conference began with a prayer and reflection.  The opening theme was on ‘what one wishes to know about one’s faith, regarding end of life’. Perspectives from the Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Rastafarian, Hindu and Sikh traditions were heard loud and clear, giving a unified voice to the dignity of faith at such a crucial time of end of life.

The theme of ‘a good farewell from a faith perspective’ was by explored by Bhai Sahib (Dr) Mohinder GNNSJ (c) 2015 - 10Singh OBE, who as chair of the Nishkam group of organisations and is both locally and internationally recognised for his faith and interfaith leadership in developing innovative approaches to social provision.  His overriding message that “our prayers can be different, but our tears are the same” offered food for thought to the diverse audience.

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh observed also that, in order to bid the last farewell, the three constituents of the human being – mind, body and soul/spirit – need to be considered, and that the role of the spirit as the spark of life becomes clearer at death, when just the mind and body remain.  With respect to spiritual dimension he commented:

“While seeing is believing – for many, believing can also lead to seeing.”

GNNSJ (c) 2015 - 8Finally, Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh added some thoughts regarding the role of ‘assumption’ and ‘confidence’ in each step we all take in life, from the act of speaking to boarding a plane.  We take it for granted that the brain will activate the necessary neurotransmitters and that the pilot is competent to take us to our destination, otherwise we would not attempt to say anything or to fly.  Similarly, for those who assume and have confidence that God exists and He is kind, the fear of death diminishes.

Medical professional, Dr Ross Bryson, GP from Karis Medical Centre, reiterated the need to look after the soul, especially towards the end of life and opportunities for dialogue in the conference highlighted a number of areas where services could be improved and enhanced.GNNSJ (c) 2015 - 11

With the hope that this initiative would be the first of many between faith communities and the NHS, Dr Manvir Kaur Hayer, Chair of Nishkam Healthcare Trust said, “This conference has begun an important dialogue between the public, faith leaders, and health practitioners, and we look forward to continued collaboration towards delivery of values-led care, especially towards the end of life.”

The conference additionally offered an opportunity for Nishkam Healthcare Trust to highlight its advanced care planning booklets, which help patients review and document their needs at the end of life. The conference team found that advanced care planning booklets offer a useful introduction towards planning for the end of life, but that the process, nevertheless, requires continuous conversation with individuals and their loved ones throughout the journey.
GNNSJ (c) 2015 - 23The event also showcased AnonCare (www.anoncare.com), a faith inspired digital network for community care, which brings together patients, carers and the wider community for the shared management and responsibility for the well-being of others. The system demonstrated the impact faith can have in technology and healthcare.

Following on from the conference, Dr Ayaz Ahmed, Clinical Service Lead for Palliative care in SWBCCG quoted “Nishkam have got a niche into ethnic minority populations that the CCG may not be able to reach”.

To view photos from the event, please click here.

Event documents:

Health experts & faith communities explore the way forward on End of Life Care – Nishkammediacentre.com

Nishkam 5 Centres of Excellence

Lee Stoneking Addresses UN General Assembly

Ross Brysonn – A Christian Perspective on End Of Life Care/ A Jesus Perspective on End Of Life Care

Jasvir Singh Grewal – END OF LIFE

Jyotveer – Link to Share Compassion Today video

Dr Ahmed CCG – End of Life Care Services for Sandwell and West Birmingham Population

Anna Lock – Advance Care Planning

 

Sikhs honoured to have displayed floral arrangement at St Chad’s Cathedral Annual Flower Festival

ik onkarSikhs from the Nishkam Centre and the parent organisation, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) were privileged and honoured to be invited to participate in St Chads’ Cathedral Flower Festival in Birmingham which took place on the 20-22 June 2014. Organised by the St Chads Cathedral Association the event was a resounding success at bringing together beautiful floral arrangements and encouraging people of all faith to participate. GNNSJ and the Nishkam Centre were pleased to have been invited and are always keen to work with other faiths and communities.

The Sikh floral arrangement showing ‘EkOnkar’ is the symbol that represents the “One Supreme Reality” or “One God”. Prepared by the Flower Shop Birmingham – a business that forms part of the Nishkam village and started by husband and wife team Ranjit Singh and Hardip Kaur, the floral arrangement stood proud and seemingly not a bit out of place within the great Cathedral. Hardip Kaur said that “it was an honor and privilege to be invited to take part in such a wonderful event”.

The annual event hosted at the picturesque St Chad’s Cathedral which was designed by Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852) and completed in 1841 was a fitting venue. The standard of the flower arrangements was quite incredible and each could have been a winner in its own particular way. There were about 400 people at the final concert and at least 1,500 people visited the Cathedral over the whole weekend. They included, the Church of England, the Polish Community, the Caribbean Community as well as many Catholics Parishes and Schools and of course the Sikh Community.

The Judges had their work cut out as the flowers were so impressive. The flower festival involved teams from across the city. The winning design, was by Minh Lane, who works at the Cathedral and produced the display called, “Will these Dry bones Live?” It was the display set up on a sand base representing the desert with drift wood as the dry bones. It had two snakes made of fir cones and the seeds of the cones represented new life. The green Chrysanthemums were the beginning of new life. She got her idea from a book of the bible called Ezekiel. As the Archishop, Bernard Longley, had been called away, the prizes were presented by Cathedral Dean, Canon Gerald Breen.

The Flower Festival 2014 as usual invited people from all walks of life to participate and attend to contribute to its great success. The festival concluded with an Orchestral Concert followed by canapés. The soloist this year was Prof David Saint who played with the orchestra and some organ pieces of his own. Anne Symonds, one of the key organisers is noted to have said, “We set out to give our flower festival as strong an ecumenical flavour as possible. This year were hoping to spread our net even wider and attract yet more ecumenical friends”.

Anne concluded with, “Next year will be a very special year for the Flower Festival and we hope the Sikh community will think about taking part again and this might encourage even more faiths to