St Laurence Church Opens It’s Heart!

FOR anyone approaching Stroud last Saturday night the familiar spire of the Town Centre Church of St Laurence looked very different.

Intriguing illuminations heralded the launch of ‘Open Heart’, a Stroud-based inter faith community arising initially from the Stroud Sacred Music Festival.

Approaching the Church close up the stained glass windows radiated with multi-coloured lights, which spoke of the warmth and welcome that awaited the whole community within the Church walls.

The Open Heart initiative is headed by Reverend Simon Howell who explained: “Our intent is to honour, lift up, and learn from friends in other faith traditions, so we can go deeper into our own”.

The date chosen for the launch allowed for a celebration of three great spiritual festivals - the Spring Equinox, the Annunciation and the Ramayana.

Families with young children made a scale model of the Angel of the North as a symbol of the Angel that spoke with Mary, teenagers engaged in protest art with spray paint, heard a storytelling of the Ramayana epic, spoke with the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco (a world centre of inter faith hospitality), welcomed the turning of the earth towards the light heralded by the Spring Equinox and everyone engaged in meditation.

Seventeen year old Millie Baker from Stroud echoed the comments from a diverse audience of over 300 people when she said there was “a really groovy atmosphere. The music was really fantastic, and it was great that everyone was dancing and smiling, a lovely night.”

The music reflected several faith traditions including Buddhist, Christian and Sikh songs.

Reverend Simon Howell said: “It was an unforgettable carnival of inter faith harmony through the arts.”

The event raised over £700 for the Stroud and District Foodbank.

For anyone interested in getting involved with the team of volunteers who support the Sacred Music Festival and the interfaith work please see or call Kate Marney on 07800 717901.