Author: Kat Brealey
Date: 22 February 2016
Rev Richard Martin has been Diocesan Interfaith Adviser for Rochester for just over a year. We spoke to him to find out how he's settling in, what his role entails, and what excites him about interfaith engagement.
So Richard, apart from being Diocesan Interfaith Adviser, what is your day to day role?
I am priest-in-charge of Holy Family Gravesend with Margaret Ifield (Kent). I have one day per week for my interfaith work.
How did you get involved with interfaith work? How have you been involved with it over the years?
My parents used to borrow Bishop Kenneth Cragg's car! When working in insurance I was dealing with Middle East agencues and for the first time came across Ramadan and Islamic finances. I then did a BA in Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds. After working in Halifax I was in charge of a part of the Dewsbury team parish in Batley Carr, where there was a majority Muslim population. Then I taught RE in secondary school. I became involved in interfaith work in Rochester diocese after expressing an interest in Scriptural Reasoning.
In your diocese, what are some of the key issues related to interfaith engagement?
I am very new in this role so it is hard to say. Some parts of the Diocese have established inter-faith work eg in Medway, North Kent and towards SE London. In other areas it has not been a priority, except for some individuals. Those involved in chaplaincy have perhaps a more day-to-day involvement. Speaking personally, I am especially keen to explore closer working with Sikhs in Gravesend, where there is a magnificent Gurdwara and a very well integrated community.
As interfaith adviser, what are the main things you've found yourself doing so far?
I began in September 2015. I have been catching up with thinking, writing and practice since I did my BA, by taking the “Theology in Dialogue” module at Queen’s (Birmingham), and now the “Christian Practice in Multi-faith contexts” module. I have begun with a colleague to develop links with the Dialogue Society who have their SE office in Chatham. Also I am exploring with Cambridge Scriptural Reasoning Dept and the Gurdwara the possibility of establishing SR with Sikhs.
What is it about the interfaith adviser role that excites you?
The chance to enrich my own faith in conversation with other people of faith, and then to encourage and enable other Christians to experience this opportunity for growth.
Thanks Richard! We wish you all the best with your developing work.