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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

You can buy Zaytoun Medjoul Dates right here at GRASSROOTS! Full of mineral and vitamins, they are a true superfood, and come in a number of sizes:

  • 5KG - £45.00
  • 900G - £10.00
  • 500G - £7.50
  • 250G - £4.00
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If you are interested in buying some, simply get in touch with us on email at admingrassroots@btconnect.com or by calling 01582 416946. They can be collected at 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW, but delivery is available in special cases - contact us for details! 

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Your are invited to the Luton Diversity Day, led by the Community Cohesion Champions. Following last year's huge success in creating a day celebrating all that is good in Luton, this year's event looks to be even bigger and better!

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Join us to celebrate diversity and enjoy complimentary foods from different cuisines, an opportunity for a penalty shootout with Luton Town Football Club and a cricket coaching session with Wicketz, and a guest performance from Rhythm Junkeys and much more happening on the day!

Date: Sunday 13th May 2018
Time: 12pm-4pm
Address: Chaul End Community Centre, 515 Dunstable Road, Luton, LU4 8QN

Download the full flyer here!

 

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A campaign run in partnership between the Fairtrade Luton Steering Group and Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF) has successfully raised £1000 in order to purchase Fairtrade sugar for the Luton Foodbank, which supports many of the neediest families in Luton. Launched during Fairtrade Fortnight 2018, the project was supported by a number of Luton’s faith communities, who kindly raised funds to buy sugar, one of the most in-demand food items for the thousands of food parcels they supply each year.

A special presentation of the sugar took place at the Luton Foodbank on Friday 13th April 2018, with representatives from some of the faith communities that fundraised also in attendance.

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“We offer our sincere thanks to everyone who has kindly donated towards this campaign, and all others who continue to support the work that the Luton Foodbank does in other ways” said Thakor Morarji, a board member at the Luton Foodbank, adding “Buying Fairtrade sugar does not only help farmers and producers around the world but is also helping our own community, right here, in our town”.

Maqsood Anwar from the Madina Mosque in Bury Park, which greatly supported the campaign added “it was a huge privilege to be able to support this important project and the amazing work that the Luton Foodbank does in helping to feed those that are most in need in Luton”.

For more information about the work of the Luton Foodbank, how you can donate food or if you feel you are also in need of assistance, please visit wwwlutonfoodbank.org.uk for more details.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

This is the story of GRASSROOTS, from its inception by founder David Cowling to the work of today.

Featuring reflections from past and present team members, 'Partners in Mission', trustees, funders, partners, volunteers and more, it is a story of our 25 years of work in Luton, presented in just 25 minutes! Thank you to Luke Middleton for making our dream become a reality in putting this documentary together.

Please also download our 25th Anniversary Souvenir Booklet by clicking here!

So now... grab some popcorn and make a nice cup of tea, settle back and watch. Please feel free to send us any reflections or thoughts you may have about our documentary to admingrassroots@btconnect.com - we really hope you enjoy it!

We also have a wonderful animated video which explains the context into which GRASSROOTS was born, what work we have engaged in over the years, and how our work continues to influence and be influenced today! If you enjoy the video above, please check out this one too by clicking here.

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AuthorGrassroots Luton

Nearly 400 guests from different faiths and cultural backgrounds attended Luton based GRASSROOTS Programme’s 25th Anniversary Celebrations on 22nd March 2018. As an ecumenical Christian programme of community engagement, GRASSROOTS has been delivering with and alongside other Churches and other faith communities, a wide range of programmes enhancing community cohesion and developing positive relationships locally, nationally and internationally.

Attendees included past and present 'Partners in Mission', trustees, staff, partners, supporters, funders, friends, family and more!

Attendees included past and present 'Partners in Mission', trustees, staff, partners, supporters, funders, friends, family and more!

In the opening act, a candle was lit by 4 different Christian denominational leaders signifying the work of GRASSROOTS which is about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.

(L-R) Rt. Rev. Peter Doyle, Bishop of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton; Rev Dr David M Chapman, Chair of Beds, Essex and Herts District of The Methodist Church; The Venerable Paul Hughes, Archdeacon of Bedford in St Albans Diocese of The Church of England; Rev Dr Andrew Prasad, Moderator, Thames North Synod of The United Reformed Church)

(L-R) Rt. Rev. Peter Doyle, Bishop of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton; Rev Dr David M Chapman, Chair of Beds, Essex and Herts District of The Methodist Church; The Venerable Paul Hughes, Archdeacon of Bedford in St Albans Diocese of The Church of England; Rev Dr Andrew Prasad, Moderator, Thames North Synod of The United Reformed Church)

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis and Mayor of Luton Cllr Mohammad Ayub congratulated GRASSROOTS and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Mr Vinod Tailor gave the prestigious High Sheriff Award to GRASSROOTS in recognition of its services.

(L-R) GRASSROOTS Director, David Jonathan; High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Vinod Tailor; GRASSROOTS Chair, David Lawson

(L-R) GRASSROOTS Director, David Jonathan; High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Vinod Tailor; GRASSROOTS Chair, David Lawson

The evening’s celebrations were enriched by the very lively and colourful Indian (Gujarathi), Polish and Zimbabwean Folk Singing and Dancing, along with a Circle Dancing display provided by a member of the GRASSROOTS team and other dancers.

Luton & Dunstable Polish School and Community

Luton & Dunstable Polish School and Community

In marking the celebrations, GRASSROOTS Team gave away, besides its Souvenir booklet, report and newsletter, also the small jars of locally produced ‘Peace Honey’, packs of Bee friendly seeds, and a small Fairtrade Candle for people to light to defeat darkness wherever they are.

It was all funded by Awards for All from the Big Lottery Fund and the Bedfordshire & Luton Community Foundation. Event sponsors were Bedfordshire Police, The Mall Luton, Bartham Group, Vauxhall, Friends of the EarthBEH District of The Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton. We thank them all for kindly sponsoring our 25th Anniversary Celebration and making it possible!

David Jonathan, Director, GRASSROOTS, pondered in his reflection over the increasing (not just religious but also) political fundamentalism, majoritarianism and general intolerance and committed not to be a commentator or spectator rather become an active participant.

GRASSROOTS Director, David Jonathan

GRASSROOTS Director, David Jonathan

Quoting from an earlier event held in partnership with Luton Council of Faiths, he said, “We need to write the alternate narrative, not the next one. We need to find peaceful acts of defiance to counter the challenges that we face.”

Click here to see many more photos of the night!

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Fairtrade Fortnight is almost upon us - running from Monday 26th February – Sunday 11th March 2018. When Tokkie Bowman, a banana farmer visited Luton a few years ago, someone asked him why we should buy Fairtrade. His answer was simple and yet very deep! He said: “When you buy Fairtrade, you buy a little bit of humanity too”.

During the Fairtrade Fortnight 2018, Places of Worship can make or renew a commitment:

  • Pledging to buy and use Fairtrade products for meetings and events etc
  • Encouraging members to do the same in their individual households

What is Fairtrade?
We all know that Fairtrade guarantees producers and farmers a fair price for their produce and labour, which not only helps them stay in business, but also provides to support their families, education, healthcare and sustainable farming methods. Moreover, Fairtrade helps us to eat  wholesome food, and not synthetic, artificially manufactured and chemically engineered food.

How can you further do justice during this Fairtrade Fortnight 2018?
HELP US RAISE £1000 FOR FAIRTRADE SUGAR & RICE!

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You and/or your congregation/group are encouraged to donate any amount up to £50 or more, to help us meet our target collection of £1000. With this money, we shall buy Fairtrade Sugar and Rice to supplement a stock shortfall, especially of sugar, at the LUTON FOODBANK.

How to make your donation/contribution?

  • Cheques payable to ‘GRASSROOTS’ and sent to 47 High Town Road, Luton, Beds, LU2 0BW
  • BACS Transfer – The Cooperative Bank - Sort Code: 08-92-99 / Account No: 65797798
  • Cash donations can be delivered (at the address above) or call 01582-416946 for a collection to be arranged!

THANK YOU for any support you can provide! Please download the above information in letter format here if needed.

For & on behalf of the Luton Fairtrade Steering Group

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AuthorGrassroots Luton