Yours faithfully

16 October 2004 to 9 January 2005

Please note that this exhibition has now closed

Liverpool is blessed with many unique and diverse faith communities. These are rooted in the city’s history as an international port.

Yours Faithfully recorded a ‘spiritual journey’ undertaken by students from six local secondary schools to discover more about the city’s religious beliefs. The students met with members of ten of the city’s faith communities to learn about their beliefs and traditions.

The students asked each faith representative to share personal items that they use to sustain their spiritual identity. Each representative chose five pieces which went on display in the exhibition, with the significance of each choice explained. They ranged from artefacts readily associated with worship, such as prayer books, to more surprising personal choices like a bag, a pair of trainers and a Pot Noodle. One of the spiritual items is mentioned on each page of the exhibition website, with a quotation from the person who chose it.

The students also travelled to the faith centres to explore some of the communities’ traditions and practices. Along the way the students wrote reports, drew, took photographs, conducted interviews and filmed their experiences. For the final part of the journey, students reflected on their own spirituality and packed their own ‘travel bags’ of spiritually important items.

This project helped to mark Liverpool’s Year of Faith, one of the themed years in the run up to the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations.

'Yours faithfully' logo

Anglican

Sandfield Park School pupils celebrate mass at Our Lady and St Nicholas Church.

Pupils at Sandfield Park School traced the history of Our Lady and St Nicholas, the city’s parish church. The children discovered that the church was built in 1361 when the Black Death struck the city and more burial space was needed.

Its proximity to the River Mersey meant it attracted sailors for many years. The sailors would pray to a white image of the Virgin Mary, asking her for a safe return from their travels. St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors.

Now the church serves the local community, shops and businesses, and is a proud reminder of Liverpool’s past.

Faith item: Pot Noodle and sharps box selected by David Brazendale:

“The Church is a place where those in physical and spiritual need have come … we administer practical and spiritual aid to the City”.

Baha’i

Group of people standing at a front door with a plaque saying 'Baha'i Centre'

At the Liverpool Baha'i Centre

Members of Liverpool Community Spirit Youth Council visited the Liverpool Baha’i Centre and National Teaching Institute. They discovered that the Baha’i faith was founded by Baha'ullah (1817-1892), which means 'Glory of God'. His son and successor visited Liverpool in 1912. Now this faith has over 7 million followers from almost every nation, social and cultural background. Its members work towards the creation of a global community based on unity, equality and universal education.

Faith item: Prayer book selected by Denia Kincade:

“The prophet Bah’u’allah wrote many texts. Most Baha’is believe that the prayers he revealed are more potent than our own individual prayers”.

Buddhism

Group of people sitting in chairs in front of a large statue of Buddha

Calderstones pupils visit the Duldzin Centre

Year 9 pupils from Calderstones School visited the Chiron Centre and Liverpool’s largest Buddhist centre; the Duldzin Centre in Sefton Park. There they examined the teachings and experiences of Siddhartha Gautama, the first Buddha.

The students learnt that Buddhists believe that all people can become enlightened by following the ‘middle way’ of neither luxury nor extreme poverty. Buddhist life is shaped by the need to be aware of the implications of your own actions. They also discovered that Liverpool has many Buddhist groups practising different traditions of teaching.

Faith item: Offering bowls selected by Buddashanti

“…these symbolise the seven traditional gifts in India - water for washing, water for drinking, hard foods, soft foods, flowers, incense and light”.

Catholic

Man in suit and school children standing with his selection of important spiritual items, including Snoopy and some trainers

Snoopy, non-brand trainers and a bible are some of the things held dear by St Anthony’s parish priest, Father Peter Sibert

Campion Catholic High School’s year 10 students visited St Anthony’s church on Scotland Road, the focal point of Liverpool’s Catholic heritage.

It opened in 1833 and served the local community, including many Irish immigrants who fled their homes to escape the famine. Sadly many died as a result of a typhus epidemic. In 1847 alone 2300 people were buried at St Anthony’s.

A new visitor centre opened at St Anthony’s in 2004 to mark its 200 anniversary. The centre honours the memory of the parishioners and Irish immigrants interred in the crypt.

Faith item: Non-brand trainers selected by Father Peter Sibert:

"…they are very cheap, as I object to designer labels and the poor wages associated with them."

Free Church

Group of people holding spiritual items, including a heart shaped cushion

St Margaret’s pupils on their visit to Bridge Chapel

Bridge Chapel describes itself as a big family. It is a free church, founded in 1980 to provide a place where anyone can feel welcome and worship God. It is not attached to any denomination. The chapel’s aim can be summed up by the letters GEM which stand for 'Glorify God, Encourage Christians and Make More Christians'.

Pupils from St Margaret’s High School found that Bridge Chapel is active in the local community, providing training courses and support groups for people of all ages and abilities. It also operates a community café.

Jodie is a member of Bridge Chapel. She has a rare skin disorder and has set up a charity called ‘Caring Matters Now’ for young people with the same condition. It was the support of the Bridge Chapel members that helped her get through over 30 operations.

Faith item: football boots/guitar selected by Reverend Sydney Elliot

“Do all you do just as though you were doing it for the Lord…” Colossians 3:2

Greek Orthodox

Group of people holding spiritual items as described in the text

Icons, holy books and charcoal burners are valued by Louisa Michael of the Greek Orthodox faith

Students from Archbishop Blanch High School, Year 8, met Father Kasinos at the beautiful Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas on Princes Road. The church was built between 1865 and 1870 with money from wealthy Greek merchants.

The pupils learnt that there has been a Greek Orthodox community in Liverpool for about 200 years. Today St Nicholas serves a community of over 3000 people. Many came to Liverpool to work on ships and stayed to raise a family. Others came to make a new life here after the invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Faith item: Icon of the Virgin Mary selected by Louisa Michael:

"…when I was 16 I had to evacuate to Northern Cyprus … all I took into hiding was this icon, it came everywhere with me…"

Hindu

Group of people holding spiritual items as described in the text

Bisakha shows the girls how to dance

The Hindu Temple and Cultural Centre on Edge Lane was the destination for Year 8 pupils from Archbishop Blanch High School. There they met Bisakha Sarker who showed them around, and told them wonderful stories about the Hindi gods, some of which are shown in the beautiful paintings on the temple wall.

Bisakha taught the students to dance a story about Ram (an incarnation of the god Vishnu) and his devotion for the goddess Durga. Hindus see the presence of god in all living things, and love to use all the arts, including dance, to honour the gods.

The cultural centre holds many social, educational and cultural events for people of all ages throughout the community, as well as religious ceremonies.

Faith item: Bengal hand-painted scroll selected by Bisakha Sarker:

“This panel depicts the goddess Durga with her four children – Ganesha, Saraswati, Kartikeya and Lakshmi. It also shows the demon destroyed by Durga.”

Jewish

Group of people holding spiritual items

Pupils examine Jewish items of faith

Pupils from St Margaret’s High School visited the magnificent Princes Road synagogue. The synagogue has been the centre of Liverpool’s Jewish community since 1873. The focal point of the building is the Ark - a large cupboard where the Sefer Torah, the Five Books of Moses, are kept in beautiful covers.

The pupils discovered that there has been a Jewish community in Liverpool since the 18th century. Numbers swelled in the late 19th century when many Jews fled persecution and poverty in Central and Eastern Europe. They passed through Liverpool on their way to America and thousands decided to stay.

Faith item: 8 day Chanuka festival candelabrum selected by Michael Swerdlow:

“…celebrating the miracle of one day’s worth of lamp oil giving 8 days of light in the Jerusalem temple…a message from God acknowledging our faith, hope and desire to rebuild the desecrated temple.”

Muslim

Group of people holding spiritual items

Shorefields School pupils explored the Muslim faith with Henna Al Rashid

Liverpool has a very old Muslim community - Britain’s first mosque was opened here in 1889. The main mosque is now the Ar Rahma Mosque.

In recent decades the city’s Muslim population has grown and now covers around 45 nationalities including Arab, Bosnian, Egyptian, Kosovan, Kurdish, Malaysian, Sudanese and Turkish. Throughout this time conversion (or ‘reversion’) to Islam has continued amongst the Liverpool-born Black and white population.

As well as the mosque there are several places that offer support and training for the local Muslim community - the Islamic Institute, the Olive Tree Resource Centre, the Kingsley Road Primary School and the Fountain Community Café.

Faith item: Eid Hijab selected by Henna Al Rashid:

“This head covering would be worn at Eid…a celebratory time when you are allowed to be at your feminine finest.”

Sikh

Group of people holding spiritual items

Shorefields School pupils explored Sikhism

Mr Sohal was the guide for Year 7 pupils from Shorefields School. Like many Sikhs he came to Liverpool after Indian Independence in 1947. With two friends he founded one of the earliest Sikh community centres that unfortunately was destroyed by fire. Even the Sikh holy book was lost. The current temple was opened in 1994, and provided the children with a special and interesting place to visit and learn about.

Faith item: The Insignia of the Sikhs selected by Mr HS Sohal:

“Khanda - the double-edged sword symbolises the supreme power of Waheguru (the Creator). The ring is the symbol of infinity. The two swords stand for spiritual and temporal balance in the universe.”

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