Fife Interfaith Group

(An associate member of interfaith Scotland)

Bringing people of all faiths and Beliefs together through mutual understanding of teachings, traditions, and practices

As Soctland moves out of the levels system, the Fife Interfaith Group hope to start holding face-to-face committee meetings. Click here for the Scottish government guidelines on how to continue protecting yourself, your loved-ones, and the NHS Staff.

This is where you'll find out archive of Thoughts. We hope you'll find something inspiring. Our theme for 2020 has been "Connections". An inspired topic? We have no doubt.

June 2020 THeme: Connections

As we come here as strangers, we are connected by our faiths and hopefully leave this evening as friends.

Through our meeting together we gain joy, strength and inspiration from each other.

Our faiths, are partly formed by, our holy words long preserved, which we all hold dear and which are evidently put into practice by people who attend Fife Interfaith.

The other week, we had a power cut, which lasted most of the day. As my husband and I are both working from home, we soon realised that we were unable to continue our work – no power, no internet. Arghh! Ok then, lets’ have a coffee break instead. No power no boiling kettle. Let’s pop the TV on and amuse ourselves that way – no power, no TV. Let’s go and visit someone to fill some time and get a cuppa – oh no its lockdown and we are not allowed to go visiting and there are no coffee shops open…

Without power, we felt powerless. In lots of ways. And that’s how I am sure we all would feel without our faith, we would be powerless. We need that daily connection to our holy words. We also need that connection to like-minded people, to be encouraged to keep on track with our faith, to keep practicing our faith in actions as well as self-nourishment. What an honour it is to be free to share our faith with others, in an environment that connections are there without question as we all have a faith and are accepted as we are. As the common connection of all faiths is surely, love.

On my first visit to an Interfaith meeting, I was nervous to walk in the door. I didn’t know anyone. I only knew a few people who practiced a different faith from the Presbyterian Church of Scotland me. Yet, I wanted to extend my horizons, look out the window and get to know my neighbour regardless of their faith or belief system. After several years of building up courage, to attending my first meeting, I took a deep breath and walked in the door.

Connections made 25 years earlier at Playgroup, were immediately generated and ignited again following a spark of recognition with someone in the room. I relaxed, felt comfortable and by the end of the meeting, knew that the Fife Interfaith group was cooking with gas and I was going to return, to make more new connections!

The new connections which I have made, have been really powerful to me on a spiritual level. I am learning about other faiths and beliefs and in turn I am sharing my new knowledge with friends and family. Opening, their minds to new ideas, breaking down their prejudgments and prejudices born from ignorance and fear. Through these connections I am reminded of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis – Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me bring your love.

Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord

And where there's doubt, true faith in you.

Connections come in all different forms as do faiths, but as long as our connections grow, we too will also grow in our faith.

By Louisa Turner.

July 2020 Thought For The Month - Being Human – Connections

When I started to prepare for this, I just waited for a thought to come. Nothing happened. I tried find out where my thoughts come from – my brain.

Bit of research. Brain: consists of nerve cells, called neurons. 100 billion of them (we're getting used to thinking in billions) (15 times the human population of this planet, imagine the cosmos from the perspective of a neuron). It's the connections between these neurons (another number even harder to imagine), that are central to the processes of the brain. This is described as 'electrical activity, the release of chemical messengers, changes in cell contacts and alterations in the activity of nerve cells'.  I don't know about you, but I have no success in controlling these chemical messengers.

I find that the more I use my brain, (the more different connections I form and use), the better my brain works. I'm usually suspicious of analogies, but tried to compare this, with how I connect with other people.

I am drawn to people who share my worldview, creating a bit of a 'bubble'. My opinions, formed as they are from processes, over which I have no ultimate control, are vindicated. I may put ideas into my memory, to make me look clever in a future discussion. I buy the newspaper, closest to my own views. On social media, the algorithm anticipates what appeals to me from previous behaviour. All takes me down the same well-worn path, with few really new connections.

I thought how different it would be, talking with people who don't share my view. Or better still listening. (Nobody ever learned anything from listening to their own voice).  I determine to buy different publications each week, The Observer, Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, Jewish Chronicle. My views should become resilient the more they are examined. They might even change, in the light of new evidence.

Like my brain, the more different connections I make, the better I work.

By Gordon Agnew

August 2020 Thought For The Month - Being spiritual

Spiritual is defined in the dictionary as “pertaining to spirit, not material, mental, intellectual, divine”.  It has been summed up by the 17th century French Philosopher, Blaise Pascal who said, “When I survey the whole universe and man left to himself with no light, as though lost in the corner of the universe, without knowing who put him there , what he has come to do, what will become of him when he dies, incapable of knowing anything”.  So Man thought there must be someone directing all this and looked and thought in an effort to try and understand.

I admire and really enjoy the programmes on TV by Professor Brian Cox.  He explains everything so well and gives so much information on his concept that everything had been created by chance in accordance with the laws of physics.  But to my mind there are still so many unanswered questions in his explanations.   Why did the big bang happen?  How was life created in a primordial mix of various elements, how did it all develop into the many creatures we have today, some fast disappearing.  Evolution is part of the answer but

to me it seems there must be something directing this, it can't just be accidental.  If things took millennia to change, how did a penguin catch fish before he could have flippers instead of wings?

I have been so excited to have a chance to study and learn so much about other Faiths who all believe in a divine creator and have worked out the answers to the philosopher's question. All have different ways of looking at the situation but nevertheless they do all connect in the outcomes of their teachings, offering similar solutions and explanations.

Death, of course, is the great unknown.  Are we really a spirit going through a mortal experience or is it all wishful thinking.  Are we here because of the laws of physics and biology which meant we were born, live a life here and then just die and decay in the grave or burn in the crematorium?  That all the knowledge we have learnt, all the experiences we undergo are just there because of circumstances and nothing to do with a learning process for our further progression.

My eldest brother Jimmy, always declared himself an atheist, that there was no life after death and we only live on through our children and memories of our family and friends. He did however believe in helping and being charitable and was a very good older brother although a bit dogmatic at times, he was never wrong. Once we were having a discussion and he was dismissing my point of view and I said to him “Well Jimmy if I am right and there is a life after death I can come to you and say, “See I was right.  But if you are right then you can't tell me so I won't have to apologise to you”.  He was not amused!

Only time will tell who is going to be right, we will either be surprised or not know anything more. However we are all entitled to our own point of view and make our own Connections

By Frank Bowness

September 2020 Thought For The Month - Walking Together

In my studies this week I came across a scripture that fits with our year-long theme of “Connections”. The scripture can be found in Amos 3:3 and the King James version of the bible reads like this:

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

There are not two of us who can agree of everything. My wife and I disagree sometimes but we are happy to walk together because we understand that we each look at things with different eyes.

Recently I did a sponsored cycle for Alzheimers. I agreed to cycle 100 miles in July and despite typical July weather, I did it. My effort didn't make a huge difference to those afflicted with this disease but I believe it made a small difference.

As I pondered this scripture in Amos, I realised that although I cycled those 100 miles on my own, I had virtual companions who were all cycling on behalf of the same cause.

So, what connects our disparate group of individuals? I submit that it is our desire to bring people of different faiths and beliefs together, to learn from each other and inclusively service together in the community.

On a person note, I love learning. I enjoy good companionship and the different take we each have on how best to live your lifes. I hope we can all agree that serving our fellow human beings makes us happy, as if God himself is pleased with our efforts.

“We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to 'find' ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”

Spencer W. Kimball (1973 – 1985)

By Iain Liston (Chairperson)