On Sunday 10th April 2022, an interfaith ‘Fast for Peace and Reconciliation’ was held in the metropolitan Borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire.
Organised by the Huddersfield Stake but promoted among those of all faiths, and none, participants were invited to fast in accordance with their own traditions or preferences, and to donate the value of food not eaten to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)¹.
Residents and religious leaders from various faith groups posted supportive video messages on Facebook and Instagram pages, inviting others to participate. The fast was supported by the local Ukrainian association, enthusiastic local Church of England vicars, as well as the Borough's Hindu and Quaker congregations.
Father George Spencer, of St Saviour's Church at Ravensthorpe near Dewsbury, commented: 'When we fast, we double our efforts to offer our practical help, as best we can, to the people in Ukraine and other conflicts. But we also in our hearts lift them to the Lord, wishing for hope and solace.'
In all, it is estimated that over 1,500 people responded to the invitation, including members of Huddersfield Stake, other congregations, community groups, and wider audiences through social media.
The fasting campaign was to help build solidarity and understanding across the community, to spread a message of peace, and instil a desire to help those suffering across the world from conflicts, including Afghanistan and Ukraine, where the DEC is active. The initiative was inclusive of all communities, politically neutral, and explicitly recognised the many tragic conflicts around the world.
President Bridgstock of the Huddersfield Stake said, 'We know that the Prince of Peace is the answer to reconciling conflicts. He expects us to work in unity with everyone who desires peace. We felt strengthened by our joint community efforts to raise money, awareness and positive action for those in conflict situations.'
1. The DEC is umbrella group of UK charities that coordinates and launches collective appeals to raise funds to provide emergency aid and rapid relief to people caught up in disasters and humanitarian crises around the world.