Talia Smith
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29 March, 2016

Creating dialogues around forgiveness

In 2015, Howard Grace and Talia Smith delivered over 40 events around the country using Initiatives of Change's award winning documentary film Beyond Forgiving.

Over 1,600 people watched the film, including over 1,000 children. Partners and hosts for the events included Feltham Youth Offenders Institute, London Interfaith Centre, Newbury Women's Group, UK Progressive Christianity Network, Hounslow Somali Community, Women’s Interfaith Network, Restorative Justice Hub, Winchester University, the London Central Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre and others.

Horsham Interfaith Forum

On 27 February, in partnership with Horsham Interfaith Forum, Talia and 24 others gathered to watch Beyond Forgiving. Horsham Interfaith Forum was established in 2004, working to promote understanding by the sharing of knowledge about the beliefs and practices of different faiths and the importance of spiritual aspects of life. The afternoon session was a deep exchange of personal stories of forgiveness and a sharing of experiences from people that had visited South Africa and the consensus of the troubled times the country is currently in (legacies of Apartheid). The discussion ended with comments around, not only the similarities of forgiveness as a virtue in the different faith traditions, but also the differences. For example in Buddhism forgiveness is seen as a practice to prevent harmful thoughts (linked to mental karma). In Sikhism it is seen as a remedy to anger. The theological basis for forgiveness in Hinduism is that not only should one forgive others, but one must also seek forgiveness from the individual wronged, as well as society at large, by acts of charity, purification, fasting, rituals and meditative introspection.                              

The World Healing Crusade Centre in Blackpool, UKOn 10 March, Talia went to Blackpool to share the film with 14 people at an event hosted by the World Healing Crusade, an organisation that base their work through the universal teachings of Jesus and other faith leaders and gurus. Their work includes interfaith dialogues, events, practising stillness and meditation workshops, publishing books and praying for individuals, communities and humanity as a whole. World Healing Crusade is a values-based fellowship established in the 1950's by a charismatic leader, Mandus Nyquist, who travelled around the world delivering healing and prayers. The group also values the practise of stillness and faith in their work. Interestingly, an AA group meets weekly at their centre. The team were intrigued to hear that the AA grew out of the Oxford Group in 1935.

The audience at the evening event was a varied, interested group of people, including a Restorative Justice Manager from the Lancashire Constabulary, a Hindu gentleman that has an OBE for his community work, and a few new faces to the group. The discussion flowed around what people were struck most about the film (eg the resilience of the protagonists), revenge and restorative justice. The Restorative Justice Manager told the group about his experience of witnessing victims forgive offenders and that the emotions are often from the offenders, after noticing Letlapa’s intensity and emotions when Ginn forgave him (the protagonists in Beyond Forgiving). 'It was like being struck by a bolt of lightning' Letlapa stated in the film.

The World Healing Crusade team hosted Talia fantastically, providing care, insights, great hospitality and new friendships.

Howard has three occasions with Beyond Forgiving coming up shortly, including one in Coventry which emerged out of the intergenerational training organised at Coventry University by Amina Khalid and Peter Riddell.

If you know of a group/ organisation/ network that would value having an event with the Beyond Forgiving film, please get in touch with Talia.

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