The children at Bhaktivedanta Manor school seize the relatively quiet month of January as an opportunity to visit various local faith communities. They use this time to be shown around various places of worship, ask questions from other religious practitioners, and actively engage in understanding a little bit more of a faith other than their own. This year the school visited St. John the Baptist Church in the village of Aldenham, where the children not only heard from Vicar Robert Fletcher about Christianity but also made historical links to their study of the Second World War. This very old church was damaged by a nearby bomb and some of the congregation at the time of the war fought on a ship call the Aldenham. So a bit of history was learnt as well. The children were truly amazed at the beauty of the different stained glass windows, woodwork and very grand pulpit.
The children next ventured to the Sikh Gurudwara in Watford, where they observed the priest reading from the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, watched a video about Sikhism and participated in a question and answer session.
Their final visit was to the Bushey United Synagogue where Rabbi Salasnick engaged the children in an in-depth discussion about the similarities and differences between Judaism and Vaisnavism. They had the wonderful opportunity to see a holy scroll uncovered and to also learn of the history of some of the scrolls, again in relation to the Second World War and the Holocaust, which the children had just learned about. The children were fascinated by the handwritten Hebrew script and the parchment upon which it was written. It was a thoroughly absorbing morning.
Later this year the school hopes to visit the Buddhist Monastery in Hemel Hempstead. In this way the children are developing a broad understanding of their faith in relation to the faiths of others.