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It was once again time for the ever aging over 18’s youth to collate together. This time we were off to Bradford, but this was a weekend with a twist. We were not only going to take part and meet our Moravian family at Horton, but we were also going meet some members of the other faiths that make up the multi-cultural region that Bradford is.  First thing, we needed to get to Bradford to meet at the Culture Fusion Centre. There was a new guy, tall, slim, clean shaven with a fresh, stylish, haircut. I thought I knew everyone who was coming this weekend? It took awhile for me to realise that this was no stranger, it was Andrew Kitson! I didn’t think I could handle any further surprises for the weekend. After Cassie’s arrival in the depths of the night, we spent the rest of the evening catching up and relieving old summer camp memories of years gone by in the delightful Culture Fusion. I should say more about this place. Run by the YMCA, this is a great find and has great facilities including a kitchen, meeting/conference room, a recording studio, a gym, a café and most definitely the weekend favourite Peace Pod, which has the largest and most comfortable bean bags you’ll ever lay witness to, laid out in front of a huge television. All at a price that was next to nothing.

The following morning we began our tour by visiting a Hindu temple. We had a very good impromptu chat about how the temple runs before we were able to observe a Hindu morning service in action and observe the way in which their gods are worshipped, with a good running commentary of all that was happening. We left with gifts of fruit or chocolate that are brought as offerings to the gods and normally distributed among the followers after the service. We left with a warm feeling and moved on to our next venue. 

Next on the agenda was the Sikh Gurdwara. We were greeted at the door by a sizeable gentleman who introduced himself as ‘Biggie’ (this really needs no further explanation). We were taken around the Gurdwara and then we sat in the main room of worship and listened to an excellent talk about Sikhism, its origins and the role the Gurdwara has in its local community. ‘Biggie’ was actually a trainee teacher and in the short time we had met him I had no doubt in my mind he was a person Bradford’s youth would gain much value from. We heard some of the teachings from the high priest and heard him sing some of the Guru Granth Sahib, their holy book. It’s a Sikh custom to feed anyone who walks through the doors of the Gurdwara and boy were we no exception. Put it this way, by the time we left, both brain and stomach had been ‘enlightened’.
After a quick visit to Horton to set up shop for the following day, we moved on to our final stop at the mosque. Again, we received a warm welcome and listened to another great talk that gave insight into the foundations of the Islamic faith, how they pray and an explanation of Hajj, the pilgrimage they aim to make at least once in a lifetime. We then observed a demonstration of how they pray and were particularly impressed by a young man who had learnt the Qur’an off by heart. When I challenged him to it, he even said he could start it at any point you gave him and begin reciting. I didn’t challenge him on anything else. We were then taken around the mosque and were able to see the things they had done to help the community including a library and computer room that would soon be open for all to use. After yet another delicious meal of giant succulent samosas (of which Cooper and Kitson ate a least 3) we left and ended what had been an excellent day.

After a brief siesta, we headed out for the famous Bradford curry, which didn’t disappoint and the evening ended with a Back to the Future bonanza, of which I understand nobody managed to stay awake till the end of! The following morning, a little weary and still exceedingly full from the heavy eating the day before, we headed to Horton to join and help with morning worship. As with every over 18’s weekend we do we received an extremely warm welcome and we sat down to a very special lunch that we shared with the whole congregation. I sat next to two lovely elderly ladies who were like walking talking Sky Sports News, as their hobby was watching any sport. They could tell me exactly where and when Andy Murray’s next tournament was and probably the pros and cons about Alex Fergusons squad rotation system. I’ve now got both their phone numbers.
This was an amazing weekend for two reasons. Firstly it was a privilege to be invited into others peoples place of worship and come out with a better understanding of them. Religion takes a lot of bad press these days and it was nice for us to go a learn about the Hindu, Sikh or Muslim person that you sit next to on the bus or stand next to on the train, because for sure a better understanding of each other can only help us to live together in the right way. A massive thank you must go to Eleanor and Elisabeth Hollindrake for organising the visits, the accommodation (and all the food and home comforts in it!!!) and the members of the Temple, Gurdwara, Mosque and Horton Moravian Church for welcoming us (and feeding us!) over the weekend. Secondly, despite us having left Summer Camp many years ago, the youth of our church still keep strong bonds and ties regardless of the distance between us. Kid you not, owing to various commitments there could well have been a least double the number of people in attendance this weekend and this is a great thing. If you don’t believe me, ask a certain lady in her early hundreds at Horton Church, who was brought to tears on seeing so many of the Moravian youth together and enjoying experiences such as the wonderful one we had this weekend.

Phil Ferdinand