Multi-Faith Worship: St John’s, Waterloo

In the run-up to International Women’ Day, the Inclusive Mosque Initiative organized an inclusive jummah salah on 6 March 2015, led by Dr Amina Wadud and hosted by St John’s Church, Waterloo, in the diocese of Southwark. Set against the background of the so-called Southwark Declaration[1] it is unsurprising that the event drew criticism from within the diocese and elsewhere, examples of which are included in the Thinking Anglicans post Muslim prayer in church building generates controversy and the guest post by Peter Ould on Psephizo Can Muslims worship Allah in an Anglican church? Not all comments were critical and  Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, was supportive in his post Welcoming Muslims into church.

The event and the associated criticism triggered three formal responses: one from Canon Giles Goddard apologizing “for the offence caused and any infringement of Church of England’s framework and guidelines”; a statement from a diocesan spokesperson asserting that “it is quite clear that Islamic prayer should not take place in a consecrated building”; and further confirmation by the Bishop of Southwark that “it is clear that an act of worship from a non-Christian faith tradition is not permitted within a consecrated Church of England building.”

The bishop’s statement acknowledges the importance of building good interfaith relations, and Canon Goddard indicated that he is seeking ways of building a better understanding between faiths. It is useful, therefore, to examine what constraints currently exist within ecclesiastical law in relation to multi-faith worship, Continue reading