News Release

Wales Interfaith 20th Anniversary

Interfaith Music Choir at the heart of 20th Anniversary Celebrations

Kate McColgan
Kate McColgan
Kate McColgan, Chair of the Interfaith Council for Wales introduces program and guests for the 20th Anniversary of the Interfaith Council on 16 November 2023© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sister Kate McColgan, a member of the Cardiff Stake,  is the Chair of the Interfaith Council for Wales who recently celebrated their 20+ anniversary on 16 November 2023. Chairing an evening of celebrations, attended by more than 200 people, in the Cardiff Stake Centre this in itself represents a maturing of interfaith relationships. Kate recalls when she started her interfaith work a number of years ago “there was a reluctance by particularly other Christian faiths to attend anything held in our chapels”.

A feature of the event was the community based musical contributions which formed the core of the 20th anniversary of the Interfaith Council for Wales. Led by choir director Natalie Davies, the Interfaith Choir comprised 50+ members, began the evening with a Peace Prayer Mandala integrating chants from various faith traditions. They represented the Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Muslim, Native/Pagan/Pantheistic traditions.

The choir members sat amongst the audience and began the chants from their seats, building up the sound as they made their way to the centre, like a gentle and moving flash-mob. Following the choir number, three young men from the Sikh community impressed the guests with their Tabala drumming followed by 3 beautiful Classical Indian dancers with an original dance from Tamil Nadu. A Bahá’í prayer, in Welsh was shared by Fleur Missaghian and Tessa Abbas, whilst Reverend Wynne Roberts, Chaplain Manager of the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, sang a favourite gospel song ‘Help Me’.

From Community House in Newport the ladies from ‘Coffee and Laughs’ sang their own original composition “This is love” which joyfully shared the purpose of the group, which is very multi-cultural.

The musical items were interspersed with messages from well-wishers. Dr. Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury) spoke of the time Rhodri Morgan (the late first minister of Wales) called him whilst still in New York following the 9.11 tragedy and how this led to the establishment of the early Interfaith Council for Wales to try and prevent such a tragedy ever unfolding again.

Jeremy Miles
Jeremy Miles
Jeremy Miles Minister for Education (speaking in place of First Minister Mark Drakeford). Speaks to the attendees. 16 November 2023. He has now put himself forward as a candidate for First Minister in the forthcoming Welsh elections. © 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language and Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip, both spoke about the vital work that had been accomplished by bringing the faith communities together which had changed the social landscape of Wales for better.

Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Social Services, spoke fondly of her late husband, giving the audience an insight into his passion for his work, his wisdom, and his humour. All the speakers recognised that the need for these ties to be strengthened was probably even greater now than ever, with tensions and despair increasing around the world.

Some past members of the Interfaith Council were amongst the guests as were Ieuan Wyn Jones Former Deputy First Minister of Wales, Lord Lieutenant of Cardiff Morfudd Meredith, Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Civil Service, Andrew Goodall, Anthony Beck from Interfaith Network UK, the High Sheriff of Gwent Prof. Simon J. Gibson and Councillor Bablin Molik the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Members of the Senedd Altaf Hussain Conservative South Wales East and Plaid Cymru Member Peredur Owen Griffiths South Wales West.

Of the event Kate received several notes of congratulations one of which is from Siôn Brynach, the Chief Executive of Churches Together in Wales, who wrote “ Many many thanks for yesterday evening’s excellent event – I so enjoyed everything on the agenda and some of the performances were wonderful. A truly great event, so thank you for ALL the work you and the team clearly put into it.”

Another attendee Ron German wrote, “I really enjoyed the experience very much. It was a wonderful experience …without a doubt the power of the interfaith network was evident in the harmony and joy of everyone coming together.”

Said Kate, “It was just thrilling to see so many people of different cultures, faiths, politics and backgrounds and , all enjoying being together. There is such a richness in diversity and my involvement with the interfaith community has blessed my life immensely. Whilst there is still so much more to be done to bring whole communities together, what it demonstrates to me is that the majority of people want to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours”.

It was engaging and uplifting and demonstrates a milestone in Interfaith maturity and an example of such positive Interfaith work. So much good has been accomplished over the past 20 years and the maturity of the group is evidenced by the quality of the organisation, the extent of the participation, and the respect in which it has from the Welsh Government and other civic leaders coupled with the fact that so many people of different faiths were comfortable visiting a chapel of the Church. We are grateful for the work Kate and all those who have worked in the past and others who continue to support this work, do in helping to bless the lives of people in the Wales and beyond.

Peter Trebilcock UK Communication Director  

(with acknowledgements to the Wales Interfaith Council members)

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