Annie’s personal experience of how…

Interfaith Vision original founders
Original founding group; Nigel Anthony, Alan Bayes and Annie Blampied

Interfaith Vision came into being

I was attending a weekend conference put on by the Wrekin Trust, at Hawkwood college in Stroud, in September, 2010.  Janice Dolley, the then director of the Wrekin trust,  (and who now facilitates the One Spirit Alliance) introduced me to an Anglican vicar from Swansea, called Rev Alan Bayes, (who had never met an Interfaith minister before) and a new age activisit, called Nigel Anthony who had run an interfaith café, also in Swansea. The three of us realized we all used the term Interfaith, but that it meant different things to each of us. Nigel suggested that we host a gathering to explore this very question, and thus our first event, the retreat in Glastonbury, held in October, 2011, was conceived.

Some years ago, I had been touched by something I read in A Course in Miracles:~ “A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible, but necessary”.  This made perfect sense to me. We are never going to agree on what we believe to be true…..(like the sages arguing about the true nature of an elephant. One thinking it is the snake like sensitive trunk, another the curved ivory tusks, another the tree like massive legs, another the great round heavy feet, and yet another the spindly tail ~ all aspects of the elephant, but together making a wholeness bigger than the parts).

As an interfaith Minister, learning about another’s religion has greatly enriched my own spiritual life. I have found that the deeper I go into a religion, the more I come across the universal spirit, beyond doctrines, dogma and belief.  What a joy it has been to find colleagues with different faith from my own, who also sense a universal spirituality beyond, or within, and want to explore what that means!

At our first retreat in Glastonbury, the blueprint was created in a spontaneous and intuitive way, for a successful way of working that we have been following ever since. Based on the idea I mentioned above, about the need for universal experience, I invited musician and fellow Interfaith Minister, Rev Razia Aziz to join us for this retreat, to lead us in experiences of listening to music and her singing, and also joining together in singing devotional music from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions.  Music is for me, one of the most powerful ways of going beyond theology to a shared experience of the Presence of Love.

I also invited an inspirational speaker, Rev Ray Gaston, author of “a Heart Broken Open” to lead us in thinking about new encounters in Interfaith work, and sharing with each other about our personal spiritual experience.

Razia, and later, Ray joined our core group team.

From the beginning, we discovered another leitmotif of our work together, which is to freely worship and express our love for the Divine, through creating, in collaborative ways, services of worship, prayer and meditation.  This engenders trust and creativity, and a spontaneous and intuitive way of being with each other, making space for the voice for God to be heard in the how of doing things together.

Since then we have held several other gatherings and events which you can find out about on our What we have done page.  June Boyce Tillman and Amanda Edwards have also joined our core group team. Nigel Anthony was part of our group from the beginning until April, 2014.