Six faith leaders reflected on eternity when they gathered together in Birmingham for an interfaith conversation recently. They spoke of how a knowledge of eternity can help us to live well now.
Anna Chaplaincy’s church lead Debbie Ducille was there on 27 April for the meeting at the Nishkam Centre, Birmingham. More than 140 people took part in the discussion both in person and online. Read a full report here.
Catholic Archbishop Bernard Longley, for example, said that from a Christian perspective, ‘the starting point for understanding eternity is in our relationship with the person of Jesus Christ – God’s eternal son. We believe through his life, his death and the resurrection – his rising from the dead that grace by grace, God has shared with humanity the fruits of eternal life.’
In the Roman Catholic tradition, at the moment of death, the archbishop said that: ‘prayers are offered which not only bring comfort and consolation to the departing soul but also give reassurances of life – that life which is to come at the end of this earthly life.’
Dr Gopinder Sagoo from the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewa Jatha community in Birmingham said that time for Sikhs is a gift: the gift of human life. ‘When I think of this phrase growing up: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We have a similar verse: as the sun and the sun rays touch; as rivers merge with oceans, so does the inner light connect and merge with the divine light and there find its completeness.’
Debbie enjoyed conversations with the director of The Art of Dying Well, Maggie Doherty, as well as Archbishop Longley and a senior nurse practitioner on the subject of end-of-life care.
Each appreciated reflecting on the rich variety of perspectives on life after death among all the different faiths represented that evening.
Speakers taking part included: Rabbi Yossi Jacobs, the chief minister of the Birmingham Hebrew Congregation, Singers Hill Synagogue; Simon Romer, teacher of Buddhism; Anjana Shelat, Midland region coordinator of Hindu Mandir Network UK, a trustee at Shree Laxmi Narayan Temple; Dr Gopinder Sagoo, from the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewa Jatha community in Birmingham; Mohammad Asad MBE, lead Imam at Birmingham Central Mosque; and the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Roman Catholic archbishop of Birmingham.