Mark Hutchings is youth pastor at Bethnal Green Mission Church in London’s East End and joined the Christian-Muslim Forum as the Christian youth specialist in 2011. He has 25 years’ experience of inner city youth work and teaching. He is chair of the Feast Tower Hamlets, a local expression of The Feast, a national youth charity which “brings together teenagers of different faiths to build friendships, explore faith and change lives”. He leads a youth inclusion project, the Gap Project which works with young people from a variety of faith backgrounds who struggle to engage with education. Mark completed an MA in Youth & Community Work & Applied Theology at the Centre for Youth Ministry in Oxford and Bristol and focused on Muslim and Christian youth perspectives of tolerance for his dissertation. He is passionate about mentoring and justice issues amongst young people and is an advocate for Christians to have a global mindset in local and international issues and to welcome people of different faiths to friendship and dialogue.
Wahida Shaffi is a freelance consultant and researcher. Wahida is a qualified social worker with a background in social and community work. She has worked with children and families, youth and older people, providing support and advice on a broad range of issues to both practitioners and the wider community. She is currently the coordinator of the Women Working Towards Excellence OurLives Project in Bradford working closely with Muslim women. She completed her MA in International Politics and Security Studies/Conflict Resolution at the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford.
Since then she has gone on to facilitate, deliver training, complete research and deliver public speeches on a wide range of issues related to equality, diversity, participation, community cohesion, governance and conflict both locally, nationally and internationally, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Romania. Her specialist areas are women and young people and she is the Muslim youth specialist for the Christian Muslim Forum. She continues to work closely with many groups and organisations of diverse backgrounds.
Forum's reflections on Youth
The members of the Youth Specialist Group have established a mutual commitment to enabling, supporting and empowering young people; celebrating what is good and facing up to the very real challenges that young people face.
We are committed to:
recognising the wide range of contexts and beliefs within and between our faith communities.
creating opportunities for Christian and Muslim young people to meet and build friendships
recognising the importance of creating opportunities for intra faith dialogue and creativity
equipping young people to speak of their faith to people of another faith
training youth leaders in Christian Muslim dialogue and facilitating learning
aiming to develop new and creative methods which can be replicated elsewhere
learning and developing our own knowledge and practice
Christian and Muslim Young People
Growing up in a faith community in Britain is both a joy and a challenge. Many young Christians and Muslims find themselves torn between the culture and values of their faith and that of the wider society. For some young people growing up is a time when they live very much within their faith community and meet few people of other faiths. For others school or college life is a place of diversity where meeting people of other faiths is a daily occurrence. For both groups there comes a time when they move out of their familiar surroundings and find themselves meeting people different to themselves. Equipping young people to live out their faith in the society they find themselves living in is important for both our faiths. This increasingly requires that we help young people express their faith amongst peers of different faiths.
The Youth Specialist Group recognise these challenges and wants to be a means of
modelling good practice in facilitating dialogue with young people
giving young people a voice in Christian Muslim Dialogue
Equipping others to run dialogue events for young people
Exploring new ways of engagement between Christian and Muslim young people
Our targets for 2006 - 2008 are:
awareness raising amongst youth workers and youth organisations
training for those working with Christian and Muslim young people
running a regular series of dialogue events for young people
raising the profile of Christian and Muslim young people within the wider dialogue world
Andrew Smith & Wahida Shaffi
Our Youth Leaders' conference was held in Birmingham on 22 February 2007. 'Getting Engaged' is about Community Cohesion through Christian and Muslim Youth Work. The speakers are Revd. Steve Chalke and Muhammad Khan.
This Christian Muslim Forum project, led by Andrew Smith and Wahida Shaffi, was supported by Scripture Union's Youth Encounter programme and East + West.
The following link contains further information and a booking form publicity.pdf
Further details of the conference will be added in due course.
The venue was The Second City Suite.
Training in Syria
This link Invitation.pdf describes the conference in Syria organised by the Middle East Council of Churches and held at a Greek Orthodox venue where Wahida delivered seminars on East-West understanding. You can view some photographs from the conference here.
We held a youth dialogue meeting for young Muslims and Christians on 3 December 2006. Read what they thought of it here.
Faith Adventure Weekend, July 2007