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Faith leaders urge UK to embrace diversity ahead of CHOGM

COMMUNITY: UK faith leaders

LEADERS OF the largest faith groups in the UK have joined forces to highlight the importance of celebrating our Commonwealth links.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Westminster and Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, are amongst the high-profile religious leaders supporting Commonwealth Big Lunches - an initiative aimed at bringing people together right across the Commonwealth.

In a display of religious unity, ten faith groups have sent messages in support of the initiative launched by the Prime Minister and created by educational charity the Eden Project, in partnership with the UK Government.

Faith groups have expressed their support ahead of leaders from across the 53 Commonwealth countries gathering in London to encourage more people to come together in celebration of our shared Commonwealth connections.

The religious backing follows royal support from TRH’s The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who all attended Commonwealth Big Lunch preparations last month.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in a letter to all Diocesan Bishops, said: “As the part of the Anglican Communion, the body of Christ, we are connected with our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth.

"The Commonwealth Big Lunch is a wonderful opportunity for parishes in your diocese to celebrate the Commonwealth diaspora in their local community, as the Big Lunch can be teamed with a street party, discussion, sports, debate, or other event to bring the community together. “

Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster commented: “I am sure that many Catholic parishes will be holding parish lunches. Special occasions like this can build enduring warmth, friendship and understanding between people. I hope many people will take part and I send my prayers and best wishes to all involved in organising it.”

Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth added: “I am delighted to send my very best wishes to all those ‘breaking bread’ with one another, as part of the Commonwealth Big Lunch, from 12th March to 22nd April 2018. In Jewish tradition, when we make a blessing over bread, we thank God, “who brings forth bread from the earth”."

"Yet, as we know, God Himself does not provide the bread. He provides the grain and the natural conditions from which people are able to make bread. The blessing teaches us the powerful lesson that the Almighty expects us to meet Him halfway. If we take responsibility for investing the effort into growing the crops, processing them into ingredients and then taking the time to mix and bake them, only then will we be rewarded with the staple food for our physical sustenance?”

With 2.4 billion citizens across the Commonwealth spanning 53 countries and six continents, Commonwealth Big Lunches will provide a unique opportunity for people to unite over their shared Commonwealth links.

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