During his recent visit to Luton, Revd Dr Andrew Prasad, Moderator of the United Reformed Church (URC) Thames North Synod, applauded the work of GRASSROOTS Programme and particularly the Church Related Community Work (CRCW) Project led by Karen Campbell in partnership with Bury Park Beech Hill Council of Churches.

CRCW Project has been sponsored by the URC and supported by the Methodist Church, for nearly a decade. He was pleased to learn how Karen and others in Luton were able to create ‘Touching Places’, enabling people across faiths, cultures, ethnicities and nationalities to meet-greet and befriend one another, thus dispelling myths and prejudices about one another.

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Acknowledging it is the Fairtrade Fortnight from 25 February until 10 March, he warmly approved the Fairtrade ethos and congratulated GRASSROOTS and Luton for achieving a Fairtrade Town status. He shared an aspiration to make URC Thames North Synod, a Fairtrade Synod.

David Jonathan, Director GRASSROOTS said, “It was a privilege for us to host Revd Dr Andrew Prasad in Luton. He was encouraging and inspiring as he shared some positive ideas of developing our work further, in the years to come.”

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Near Neighbours Luton won the Strengthening Communities award at the Bedfordshire Police Cohesion Awards on 1st February 2019.

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Near Neighbours is a national body, with Kim Greig as the lead in Luton (who is based at GRASSROOTS) and is known to care deeply for local communities.

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Near Neighbours provides small grants for projects or one off events to bring people of different faiths and ethnicities together in local communities in order to build stronger relationships and develop understanding.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Hundreds across the country were welcomed at the House of Lords Last week organised by Near Neighbours programme. Friends, partners, faith leaders, activists, politicians were hosted as guest of The Baroness Eaton DBE DL for an afternoon tea. The evening was a show of appreciation for the work in local communities that promote positive integration and challenging hate and intolerance.

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A delegation from Luton coming from Luton Council Faiths, Grassroots programme, the Luton Irish forum, ATTENTIVE Social Enterprise,Tokko Youth Space and Shri Guru Ravidaas Sangat represented Luton. The Near Neighbours director Paul Hackwood gave an overview of the national picture sharing some great examples as good practice while raising Brexit concerns over issues of relationship and friendship.

It was encouraging and affirming that Luton was mentioned in a very positive way, in the presence of Baroness Eaton, Lord Bourne and many others. Sanjeev Kumar from Luton spoke about Luton and shared the cooking book that the Shri Guru Ravidaas Sangat produced while working with the Luton Irish Forum. The team was cheered with a surprise visit by Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Simply bake a cake using Fairtrade ingredients and bring it along with the empty wrappers from at least THREE Fairtrade ingredients you have used!

There will be a Fairtrade prize for the best looking and best tasting cake - and a Fairtrade raffle too!

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This Fairtrade Fortnight 2019 event is due to be held on:

  • Date: Saturday 23rd February 2019

  • Time: 2-5pm

  • Venue: St Christopher's Church Hall, Felix Avenue, Luton LU2 7LE

For more details download the flyer here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

"In Memory of Mr Natwar Sinh Solanki, fondly known as Natu Bhai" of Luton Hindu Community and Vice Chair of Luton Council of Faiths, who sadly passed away on 11th Jan 2019.

You are invited for a gathering on Thursday 28th Feb at 6:30pm for 7pm start at the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ to honor his selfless service and dedication to the communities in Luton and to pay our tribute to him & his family.

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Parking Options are:

  • Luton Library Car Park LU1 2TR

  • Luton Central Car Park LU1 2HN

  • Dunstable Place Car Park LU1 2QT

A donation box will be available to support charities that were dear to Natu Bhai:

  • Cancer Research

  • Great Ormond St Hospital

  • Keech Hospice

Please let us know if you wish to come so we can cater for the correct seating arrangements and refreshments. Please let us know at either:

  • jgrassroots@btconnect.com

  • 01582-416946

  • 07886 350 854 (text only)

You can download the invitation here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

'Women & Well Being'

GRASSROOTS is happy to announce that it's annual 'Precious Pearls' event will be taking place once again for International Women’s Day, celebrating women across faiths and cultures. At this event you can:

  • Share the talents of Luton women 

  • Meet women from different backgrounds

  • Enjoy yourself with different cultural entertainment

  • Peruse the Fairtrade Stall

  • Enjoy the refreshments provided!

This event will take place on 7th March 2019 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at High Town Methodist Church Hall, 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A WOMENS ONLY EVENT

For more information please contact Ghar se Ghar or GRASSROOTS:

  • Call 01582 416946  

  • Email gharseghar@btconnect.com

  • Download the poster here!

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Following Natu Bhai passing away last week on Friday, it was heartening to see many of you on Monday 14th January at Hindu Mandir Hall to meet, greet and console Natu Bhai's family. Your presence meant a great deal to the family. They are truly grateful to you all.

Many thanks to you all who wrote emails or text messages and Facebook messages expressing your condolences and support for the family. All those messages have been passed on to the family.

Natu Bhai's FUNERAL has now been arranged and it will be held on:

  • Date: Saturday 19th Jan 2019

  • Time: 2pm

  • Venue: Vale Crematorium, Butterfield Green Road, Luton LU2 8DD 

You are invited to join in for light Lunch after the Funeral at the Hindu Mandir Hall, Hereford Road, Lewsey Farm, Luton LU4 0PS.

You can also find all these details on the funeral notification sent by Natu Bhai's family here.

It will be great if you are able to make it on Saturday 19th January 2019 at 2pm at Vale Crematorium, Butterfield Green Road, Luton LU2 8DD.

With fond memories of Natu Bhai,

David Jonathan (Johny)
GRASSROOTS & LUTON COUNCIL OF FAITHS

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

TORN FROM HOME

Programme to include presentations from victims of genocide, spoken word / poetry, drama performance from the students of Stopsley High School, and an exhibition by Anne Frank Trust (refreshments will be available).

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Date: Thursday 24th January

Time: Commencing at 5:30pm / Main Programme at 6:30pm

Venue: Room G101, Campus Centre, University Square, University of Bedfordshire, LU1 3JU

For further information, download poster here, or contact:

Ann Loeffler - 01582 546033

Maureen Drummond - 01582 547228


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AuthorGrassroots Luton

It is with great sadness, deep pain and a heavy heart that we share this news that our friend, colleague and LCoF stalwart Mr Natu Bhai Solanki (Vice Chair of Luton Council of Faiths), passed away on 11th January 2019 at 7:30pm at L & D Hospital. His grieving wife, children & their families are all trying hard to come to terms with this bitter reality.

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We kindly request that we all hold the family in our thoughts and prayers and pray that Natu Bhai's kind and noble soul rest in peace.

For those who knew Natu Bhai we will deeply miss him 😥

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Christmas celebrations, with 25th Stopsley Guides at the Parish of Luton C of E St Anne with St Christopher, included 50th Anniversary of fun and interactive Christingle Service, raising monies for the Children’s Society.

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The orange represents the earth God created and the red ribbon represents the love of Jesus wrapped around the world.  On the cocktail sticks are sweets and fruits that tell us of God’s generosity.  Finally, a candle sits in the centre of the orange – the world – that tells us that Jesus brings light into the entire world.

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Prayers and monetary gifts were offered for those children that the Children’s Society supports.  To everyone’s surprise, Revd Anne Crosby had disappeared mid service, reappearing dressed as a life size Christingle, donning an orange fat suit.  People said this was a Christingle Service they would never forget. 

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

The Annual Peace Light Service was held at All Saints Church Luton on Monday 17th December 2018. The Peace Light (flame) is brought from Bethlehem, by the Scouts and Guides and is distributed across Europe at Christmas time, spreading the Message of Peace in all countries. Cllr Naseem Ayub, Mayor of Luton, Maqsood Anwar of Madinah Mosque and Sanjiv Kumar of Guru Ravidass Sangat, were the guests of honour. In their talks all the guest speakers highlighted the need to share this light of peace in our troubled world, stay united and fight poverty, austerity which is increasingly seen teasing us in our faces across the United Kingdom these days.

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In his message Revd David Kesterton, the host Vicar of All Saints Church Luton, reflected on the notion of “Faithful Friends”. This is also a name of a group of 8 people from Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Christian backgrounds, who have become friends. These friends have asked a question – where is your special spiritual place? Answers varied e.g. a Mosque in West Bromwich, Cathedral in Worcester, Beach in Cornwall, Islamic college in Dewsbury, Golden temple in Amritsar etc. For each, there was a place where their faith had become real. The friends toured each of the places in turn – at each place they listened to their friend telling the story attached to the place.

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Revd David continued saying we haven’t done this in Luton, but we do visit each other’s places of worship – and we seek to listen and learn from one another and work together. E.g. this year All Saints Church has

  • done cookery with Guru Ravidass Sangat and have produced a cookbook too

  • done litter picking with Maqsood Anwar and others of Madinah Mosque

  • visited other Mosques in the area

  • helped a group from Harpenden visit central Mosque

These small acts show our common commitment to peace and working to benefit our wider community. At Christmas, Christians think of Bethlehem as their special place where Jesus was born. Bethlehem in the west bank is not the most peaceful place and we are reminded that the peace light comes into a troubled world – from a troubled land. So we pray for peace and justice in Palestine and invite all of us – all faiths and no faith – to live in peace with one another in the steps of The Prince of Peace. May we be faithful neighbours and friends – not just with those we agree with but also with those we don’t.

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Mr Sanjiv Kumar of Guru Ravidass Sangat lit the first candle from the Peace Light and passed on the light to be shared amongst more than 100 people present on the evening.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Please enjoy the following reflection of Pope Francis on Christmas:

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Christmas is usually a noisy party: we could use a bit of silence, to hear the voice of Love.

Christmas is you, when you decide to be born again each day and let God into your soul.

The Christmas pine is you, when you resist vigorous winds and difficulties of life.

The Christmas decorations are you, when your virtues are colors that adorn your life.

The Christmas bell is you, when you call, gather and seek to unite.

You are also a Christmas light, when you illuminate with your life the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity.

The Christmas angels are you, when you sing to the world a message of peace, justice and love.

The Christmas star is you, when you lead someone to meet the Lord. You are also the wise men, when you give the best you have no matter who.

Christmas music is you when you conquer the harmony within you.

The Christmas gift is you, when you are truly friend and brother of every human being.

The Christmas card is you, when kindness is written in your hands.

The Christmas greeting is you, when you forgive and reestablish peace, even when you suffer.

The Christmas dinner is you, when you sated bread and hope to the poor man who is by your side.

You are, yes, Christmas night, when humble and conscious, you receive in the silence of the night the Savior of the world without noise or great celebrations; you are a smile of trust and tenderness, in the inner peace of a perennial Christmas that establishes the Kingdom within you.

A very Merry Christmas for all those who look like Christmas.

Pope Francisco



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AuthorGrassroots Luton

The Season of Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for Christians to welcome and celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

Hence the Nativity Scene at The Mall in Luton has been attracting the busy shoppers, to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, but it was Luton Gospel Community Choir and The Salvation Army Choir & Band, which pleasantly and musically surprised and cheered up the shoppers, with an inescapable performance of Carol Songs in The Mall.

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Besides hot drinks and mince pies, tagged baubles were handed out to people for prayer requests to be written and put on The Prayer Tree, which is a lovely way for people to ask the Churches across Luton to honour their prayer requests.

Michael Singleton, Chair of Churches Together in Luton said, “It was heartening to see people from all the different churches and denominations, coming together to spread the joy of Christmas.”

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

SALAM, PEACE, SHALOMA

This peace light service is open to all faiths to celebrate the arrival of the Peace Flame from Bethlehem and an opportunity to share peace with one another in our community.

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Held with the support of the Sea Scouts, Scouts and Guides.

  • Date: Monday 17th December 2018

  • Time: 7.30 PM

  • Venue: All Saints Church, Shaftesbury Road, Luton

Download the poster here!

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Fundraising to try and help end the horrendous trade of human trafficking. People are not commodities.

One of our close friends and former GRASSROOTS colleague, Revd Jenny Spouge, is raising funds as part of dressember.  

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To find out how your kind donation could help, or to make a pledge yourself, please visit https://dressember-2018.funraise.org/fundraiser/jenny-spouge

Stay up to date about Jenny’s dressember campaign at https://www.facebook.com/WildAngelsTextiles/

 

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

On a rainy day, GRASSROOTS, based in High Town Methodist Church, marked the first event of the High Town Living Advent Calendar, by welcoming the local community with free Fairtrade teas and coffees.

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People bought some beautiful Fairtrade Christmas hampers and other ethical and Fairtrade Christmas gifts including Fairtrade Santas for as little as £5 each.

Sr Maire Hayes, Roman Catholic Northampton Diocesan Inter Faith Coordinator presented a challenging display of Christmas in Other Cultures (below).

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Sam Willis, High Town Community Worker, said, “Traditional advent calendars have chocolates behind their doors, but a Living Advent Calendar can help reveal a surprise in the High Town neighbourhood, on each day in the run up to Christmas. People can take part in all sorts of activities which include singing or dancing, watch live performances, learn how to make Christmas decorations or even help keep High Town tidy.”

Find out more about it on https://www.facebook.com/HighTownLivingAdventCalendar/

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Walking joyfully with the Lord into 2019

A Grand New Year Celebration with 

Food ~ Music ~ Dancing ~ Entertainment

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Tickets only £10 (includes £5 to spend on the Fairtrade Stall!)

  • Date: Friday 11th January 2019

  • Time: 7pm - Late

  • Venue: Holy Ghost Parish Centre, 33 Westbourne Road, Luton, LU4 8JD


Tickets/info from: Karen Campbell (Church Related Community Worker) via telephone on 07957 450 624 or email crcwsmiles@hotmail.co.uk

Download the full poster here!

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

As a voluntary body of members from different faith communities in Luton, we want to put on record our deepest shock and pain at the terrible Anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, USA. This has been responded to here in the UK with prayers and with words of condemnation and strong messages of solidarity with the Jewish community from across the UK's faith communities.

We have seen some great community solidarity in the USA supporting the affected Jewish community.

There is no place in civilized society for Antisemitism or any other Hate crime towards any communities or individuals whether ascribing to a faith or none.

All communities must be able to exist in safety and to practice their faith freely and without fear or intimidation. We condemn extremist violence in the strongest terms and to stand together and to continue to work together with ever greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred.

We call for kindness and human values. We continue to pursue our role in educating and pursuing dialogue in a constructive way despite our differences.

We totally reject and condemn such thinking along with diversity of other individual and institutional voices in Luton.

We stand together as fellow citizens of Luton, as friends and as neighbours in opposing all such evil extremism which seeks to threaten us or divide us.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and a reminder for us to send prayers for the world peace.

Download full statement here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Join us for the 22nd Annual Peace Walk 2018 – an annual public demonstration of community solidarity to build a stronger Luton by fostering better understanding - on Saturday 22nd September 2018.

This year’s Peace Walk will begin by the War Memorial outside Luton Town Hall and will include a number of different events and activities throughout the afternoon. 

The Peace Walk will give you:

  • An opportunity to ask questions about different cultures and faith traditions
  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Taste a variety of snacks along the way!

Please dress modestly and bring a scarf or head covering. 

SCHEDULE

  • 13:30    Gather at the Luton Town Hall War Memorial (Manchester Street, Luton, LU1 2BQ)
  • 14:30    Visit Luton Salvation Army (1 Vicarage Street , Luton, LU1 3HZ)
  • 15:30    University Chaplaincy - the Tree House (Vicarage Street, Luton, LU1 3JU)
  • 16:00    Quaker Meeting House (28 Crawley Green Road, Luton, LU2 0QX)
  • 16:30    Finish at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (39 Crescent Road, Luton, LU2 0AH)
  • 17:30    Officially ends

If you are unable to walk there, please contact us so that we can arrange transportation for you. For more details please contact us on 01582 416946 or info@lutonfaiths.org

You can download the flyer here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton