From Richard Skinner, St Marks Baptist Church
“What is a Baptist?”
“Why don’t you have icons?”
“Do we worship the same God?”
These are some of the questions Richard has been asked by students who come to visit the church several times a year as part of a Foundation Year course at UWE. They are studying Interreligious Relations in Communities.
A teacher on the course contacted him a couple of years ago, and has been bringing a group of International students regularly ever since. They visit the nearby Mosque, Sikh Temple, Hindu Temple, and Synagogue, in addition to spending time at St. Mark’s Baptist Church. The students come from many places, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Jordan, Morocco, and India, and the majority of them are from a Muslim background. They may have been inside a church before, but it would more likely be Catholic or Eastern, and the limited number of Christian symbols or icons at St Marks surprises them.
“They really enjoy coming to us. Last time they wrote a card to say thank you” Richard commented. Although he acknowledges that the unusual proximity of his church to such a variety of places of worship makes St Marks ideal for this purpose, it might still be worth contacting a local college or university and seeing whether your church could offer something similar.