I am Lekan Kayode Ajifowobaje, the coordinator of Solid Rock Men and Interfaith ministry (‘Solid Rock’) of Beaconsfield United Church. This group was formed from the Beaconsfield United Church Refugee Integration Support Programme (BUC-RISP) out of the perception of a need for community building and faith opportunities for men as well as a need to promote interfaith and intercultural understanding in the Nigerian community. We were in part inspired to create this group because of the success of the BUC women’s collective centre. We realized that there was also a need for a ministry that could create community among men, as well as a need for a ministry to address interfaith concerns and understanding. It was out of all of this that we were inspired to form the group, inaugurated on 16th February, 2021 under the leadership of Rev. Shaun Fryday. Below are the aims and objectives of the Group:
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF INTER-FAITH MINISTRY:
- To practically demonstrate and share the love of God with people of all faiths. John 3:16a “For God so loved the WORLD.
- To foster good relationship with people of other faiths through workshops, seminars, and other programs
- Campaigning for the importance of harmonious life among believers of different faiths
- To support other religious communities with any available resources
- To promote peace and non-violent society
- To organize educational programs on interfaith harmony that will enhance interfaith growth
- To promote mutual respect, understanding, protection of fundamental human rights and cultural globalization
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF MEN’S GROUP:
- To render help and physical support to our seniors and adults
- To inspire men to give their talents and time for God’s work
- To inspire men to grow in faith and socially through community activities and events
- To organize multi-faceted programs that will help change our community
- To inspire our men with a vision to impact the community with love of God and to eradicate racism in our society.
Solid Rock was inaugurated because of the need to foster harmonious interfaith relationships as well as the need to launch our men into innovative activities that would positively affect our society. I assumed the position with belief and trust in God for successful works. On 23rd April, we had our first workshop on Nutrition and health. In that seminar, we explored: i. Understanding nutritional values of different foods. ii knowledge of healthy foods for children. We wanted to empower men with knowledge to promote healthy eating for them and their families.
Over the summer, Solid Rock assumed responsibility for hosting the weekly “lemonade on the lawn” social at BUC. These gatherings were very special as they brought our church members together for the first time after more than 14 months of pandemic lock down. People were happy to converge and see one another face to face again and to meet people we had only met over Zoom. The Lemonade on the Lawn events also provided many congregants a first opportunity to see first-hand the renovation work done on our sanctuary during the pandemic. These events were an opportunity for the Solid Rock group to provide support and service to the community.
We had our first Interfaith Seminar on Friday 1st October, 2021. The date was picked because it is Nigerian Independence day. The topic of the seminar was “IMPORTANCE OF INTERFAITH AND INTERCULTURAL HARMONY TOWARDS GLOBAL PEACE” This panel discussion was aimed at promoting culture, peace and nonviolence globally. The workshop included three panelists who shared their experience of interfaith and intercultural exchange from various perspectives, and educated participants on the importance of interfaith harmony. The main focus of the Interfaith seminar was to promote understanding about the importance of harmonious life among believers of different faiths. We wanted to encourage participants to become engaged with the work of promoting interfaith cooperation, understanding and dialogue at this crucial time when a wave of terrorism is high across some countries of the world. In the present time, terrorism is a very concerning issue in the world and we see that we can only tackle terrorism with the promoting of inter-faith harmony, mutual understanding, religious tolerance and inter religious dialogue. We were extremely pleased with the seminar, and hope to put on other similar programs in the future. The feedback we received from participants was tremendously encouraging and motivating. We are excited about opportunities for extending the conversation that was started at this event.
We are inspired in our mission by the idea of world interfaith, which was first proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the United Nations in 2010. This was quickly adopted by the UN General Assembly and a resolution was unanimously passed declaring the first week of February each year as World Interfaith Harmony week, calling on governments, institutions and civil society to observe it with various programs and initiatives that would promote the aim of the WIHW objectives.
My experience so far as the coordinator of this group has been enriching and interesting. There have been various challenges, but by the grace of God I have been able to convert those challenges to stepping stones. My appreciation goes to Beaconsfield United Church for the opportunity, especially Rev. Shaun Fryday for the confidence he has in me by allowing me to lead this group. It is indeed a privilege appreciated.
– Shared by Lekan Kayode Ajifowobaje