The faith part of their learning was facilitated by Andrew Pratt at Lancashire Faith Forum. He invited representatives from all the different faith communities to come and speak about their faiths. I represented Paganism. During the three sessions I was there I met representatives from the Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish faiths.
The 80 pupils on the residential scheme were split into 4 groups. The faith representatives took it in turns to speak to each group for half an hour. At the end of the talks the groups came together in one room to pose questions to all the representatives about the similarities and differences between their faiths.
During the individual sessions I gave a basic overview of Paganism; the sacredness of nature, the wheel of the year, gods and goddesses and ancestors. I also spoke a little about my own experiences and recited a poem as an example of Pagan practice.
The part I think everybody found most engaging was the question and answer sessions. The most common questions were 'how did you become a Pagan?' 'If Pagans venerate nature can they eat meat, use cosmetics, drive cars etc?' 'What are your views on the afterlife?' More difficult questions to answer were 'how do you talk to a god, or a tree?' 'How do you pray?' as these are more a matter of personal experience. One of the potentially most sticky questions, which came at the end and was posed to the representatives of all the faiths was 'what do you think of each other's religions' (!).
On the whole I think these sessions were a big success. I hope to do some more Interfaith work with young people through Lancashire Faith Forum in the future.
Blog post by Lorna Smithers