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Interfaith Pilgrimage

The Interfaith Pilgrimage around Watford became an annual event in 2009 during National Interfaith week. Members of the public are invited to walk around Watford and visit the various places of worship of the town. The pilgrims spend 20 minutes in each place of worship and receive a bite-sized introduction to different faiths and their community. Refreshments are provided along the way. The 5 to 6 most frequently visited places are: Watford and District Synagogue, Watford Central Mosque, St Mary's C of E Parish Church, the Al-Zahra Centre, the Holy Rood Roman Catholic Church and the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha but it can include other places. It varies every year.

Group photo

The most uplifting Interfaith Pilgrimage (2023)

On National Interfaith week Watford Interfaith Association organised its 14th annual interfaith pilgrimage around Watford visiting 5 places of worship starting at St Mary’s Church, the Al-Zahra Centre, Beechen Grove Baptist Church, the Central Mosque and ending up at the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara. For security reason we couldn’t start at the Synagogue like we usually did previous years however a representative of the Synagogue walked with us all the way.

On Sunday 19 November people gathered at St Mary Church and were warmly welcomed by the vicar, Reverend Tony Rindl. Various distinguished officials gave inspirational talks: the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Liz Green, Watford Elected Mayor Peter Taylor, Watford Town Centre Chaplain Geert Tap, Cllr Mark Watkin and Harjit Singh Chair of WIFA. Revd Rindl then spoke about his faith, his church congregation and St Mary been the oldest church in Watford.

We then walked to the Al-Zahra centre, the home of the Shia Muslim community. Now over 70 people joined the pilgrimage and listen to a presentation on the origin of the Shia Muslim faith and its basic beliefs. After some Q&A, we moved to Beechen Grove Baptist Church where a Romanian wedding was taking place. At an appropriate time in the service Reverend Simon Heard invited us to walk through the central aisle of a packed church. Beechen Grove Baptist Church is a large church holding 8 different services every Sunday.

Our next destination was the Central Mosque. We took off our shoes, the ladies covered their heads and we all sat in the main hall. Esoof the muezzin performed the call to prayer and introduced us to a summary of Islam. His presentation was concluded by a prayer for peace in our world which moved us all deeply. As we walked out of the prayer hall, Esoof met the Jewish man and a friendly conversation developed between them comparing their faiths. You say ‘Salaam Alaikum’ and we say: ‘Shalom Aleichem’. At this time when the world is in turmoil with the conflicts going on in Israel Palestine here in Watford, we are coming together in peace and friendship.

After some delicious samozas, the pilgrimage took off on their last stretch to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara. Harminder Singh welcomed us, introduced us to the tenets of Sikhism and answered our questions. We then walked around the canopy where laid the Sikh Holy book the Guru Granth Sahib. After a demonstration of gatka a Sikh martial art used for defensive purpose only we were welcomed to a warm delicious vegetarian meal.

Before leaving the High Sheriff, who had been with us the all-time, thanked WIFA for organizing the Pilgrimage. She said that she had learned a lot and: ‘If the world would follow Watford’s model it would be a much better place’.

Thank you everyone for helping to make this pilgrimage a wonderful witness of the friendship between all our faith communities in Watford and for the support of Watford residents who attended the Pilgrimage.

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