THE mayor of Redbridge has spoken of his pride in the men appointed to serve in what is believed to be Britain’s first multi-faith chaplaincy.
Councillor Muhammed Javed appointed representatives of five different faiths to serve as the borough’s official chaplains earlier this year.
The Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths are all represented, and the chaplains have been taking turns leading prayers before meetings of full council.
Cllr Javed said: “To my knowledge it’s the first time this has happened in the country.
“Redbridge is a multicultural borough and I was very keen for that to be reflected in the chaplaincy.”
Rabbi David Hulbert of the Bet Tikvah Synagogue in Perrymans Farm Road, Barkingside, said he enjoyed leading the politicians in prayer last month.
“I told the councillors about the Jewish New Year and explained it is a time to say sorry to all the people you have been horrid to,” he said. “They all had a bit of a laugh about that.
“We live in a very diverse part of London where, in the main, people respect each other and I think it is right that should be reflected in the chaplaincy.”
Father Stuart Halstead of St Alban Church in Ilford will lead prayers around Christmas time.
His church is on the same road as the Ilford Islamic Centre mosque where Muslim chaplain Ghulam Alam worships.
Father Halstead said: “Around three or four years ago we had some money stolen from a donation jar and the mosque donated some money to help us.
“We already enjoy a very good relationship and hopefully the multi-faith chaplaincy will strengthen those ties.”
The men will stand alongside each other as the borough marks Remembrance Sunday next month.
Cllr Javed said: “One of them will speak on behalf of all of them, which symbolises everything I want the chaplaincy to be about.”
And Mr Alam added: “Whoever speaks on that day will speak for us all.
“By appointing us, the mayor has sent out a message that everyone, no matter what their race or creed, is welcome in Redbridge.”