New York Inter Faith Exchange Visit 17 June 2009
We all arrived safe and sound and settled into Union Theological Seminary on Broadway, New York City in the heart of the university district and what a beautiful building it is. On the first day we travelled upstate to the Stony Point Centre for a two day inter faith retreat on the theme of Immigration: estrangement to engagement. This was organised by the Inter Faith Centre to inform and mobilise religious leaders to play a prominent role in meeting the needs of in coming communities.
One of the main impacts of this day was that we are addressing similar issues in Scotland with regards to the problems that arise for refugees/asylum seekers. The number of people these NGO’s are working with in NYC is obviously much greater than in Glasgow. Numerous faith based agencies are working to address the many needs of immigrants through advocacy, education projects, financial advice, legal advice, and services for adults, children and families. We also heard from Health services, the police (NYPD) and NGOs. During the retreat members of our group were filmed for a community TV station and Pramila was requested to speak about immigration in Scotland.
For me, this retreat was a unique experience and one that I found both informative and enjoyable. I felt like an explorer discovering new ground, new insights and new concepts. The spirit of fellowship with which the religious leaders and others sought to find out more about each other was wonderful and the thought provoking programme was at once stimulating heart rending and motivating. I have no doubt everyone got something to take back with them.