The theme of the 5th May 2020 meeting of York Interfaith was on the use of information technology for its purposes. It became more than a theoretical discussion amongst its members.
No one could have imagined, in September 2019, when planning the 2020 York Interfaith programme, how the subject of one meeting in May 2020 would be at the core of people’s lives months later.
Penny Siddall, a member of the Church and Secretary of York Interfaith Group, sat alongside fellow members Sister Patricia Harriss, a Catholic nun from the Congregation of Jesus, and Sue Maskell of the Methodist faith on the planning committee, to bring together the ideas and suggestions of its members into a structured and workable programme of monthly meetings for 2020.
One of the subjects suggested for the programme was to discuss how faith was impacted by social media and technology, in what became titled ‘Faith, Technology, and the Internet’. Daryl Watson, the UK Communication Director for the Church agreed to come to York and host the discussion. But, sadly, monthly meetings had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown. As time moved on, it became apparent that it would be impossible to hold the 20th May meeting in the normal way. After embracing the technology for its Interfaith committee meetings, and with a desire to reach out to members and support them, it was decided to see if Daryl could still host a ‘virtual’ meeting in May, which he happily and gladly agreed to do.
With some trepidation, and seeing the irony of it, York Interfaith held its first virtual monthly meeting on May 5thand discussed how important and powerful digital media can be, in communicating beliefs to many near and far, and in inspiring and uplifting others.
Many faiths participated, including Muslim, Church of England, Baha’i, Sikh, Hindu, Quaker, Buddhist, Unitarian, as well as members of the Church. There were 35 individuals in attendance. The technology allowed York Interfaith to reach beyond borders and countries and include a member of the Church from the Grand Canaries. Sister Patricia said, “I thought it was fast-moving and fun, and expertly presented”. Dee Boyle, Vice-Chair of York Interfaith, commented, “It was really a great session. Daryl made it seem like a fun night out as well as an informative evening”.
What great blessings the tools of technology and the internet were that night. To share over great distances laughter, friendship and learning. The technology allowed some to attend who otherwise would not have attended. Daryl asked what the highlight of our day had been at the beginning of the meeting. The chair of York Interfaith, Avtar Matharu, on closing the meeting commented that the event itself had been the highlight of his day; it was lovely to see so many new faces.
How blessed are the children of a loving Heavenly Father who knew how much they would need the technology in their lives at this time, to enable them stay connected with family, friends and with other faith congregations.