THE BISHOP of Kingston, the Rt Rev Richard Cheetham, has said he is looking forward to the ‘tremendous opportunity and privilege’ he has in becoming the new vice chair of the Christian-Muslim forum.
Bishop Cheetham takes on the role in the organisation from the former Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Rev David Gillett, who retired earlier this month as the group’s chair.
The Forum is now chaired by Musharraf Hussain, and was set up in January 2006 to build bridges between the two faith communities in the UK and increase opportunities for dialogue.
Last weekend the Forum organised an event in conjunction with Scripture Union, which saw young Christians and Muslims in Birmingham come together for a debate with a difference.
The teenagers met up in Aston Parish Church centre and produced a musical response to the ‘Common Word’ statement sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope and other Christian leaders from a group of 138 senior Muslim leaders. Speaking about his new role and the recent event in Aston, Bishop Cheetham said: “I think this kind of engagement is hugely important and I hope will help promote mutual understanding between the faiths.
“We live in a time when there’s a lot of misunderstanding between religions and it is easy in that sort of climate for fears to be generated. “That’s why regular contact between different groups is vital, and it is important Christians play a part in that.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity and privilege for me to be able to serve in what I consider to be a key area.”
The Christian-Muslim Forum has a number of events coming up in the next few months, including a residential meeting in Leicester, a conference for Christian and Muslim teachers in Daventry, as well as an Imam/Christian Ministers meeting in Leeds in April.