A Brief profile

The CCMR came into being following the awful realisation in 2006 that one of the so called “liquid bomb plot” perpetrators had come from High Wycombe. The then Team Rector of All Saints, the town centre church in High Wycombe, invited the leaders of the Muslim community to meet to express his support for them and offered his help in establishing a Council for Christian Muslim Relations. His invitation was very well received and the CCMR came into being and has met bi-monthly ever since.

One of the earliest chapters in the development of the CCMR came when the Council adopted A Common Word www.acommonword.com  as a platform for action. Public meetings for Christians and Muslims were held and an initiative was established of visits to secondary and primary schools of an imam and a priest with a CCMR chair. This initiative continues to the present day and pupils learn that the two religious leaders respect each other and though A Common Word have many things on which they can agree.

The meetings of the CCMR have been addressed by eminent speakers including Muslim academics and representatives of campaigning organisations like British Muslims for Secular Democracy, The British Muslim Forum. On his visitation of the Oxford Diocese, Archbishop Rowan Williams addressed the Council, and an Archbishop from Tbilisi, Malkhaz Songulas visited on more than one occasion and joined worshippers at All Saints and in the Mosque on Totteridge Road.

The Council has issued Press Releases when occasions of violent extremism needed a response. The most recent of these included one following the massacre of worshippers at All Saints, Peshawar and another following the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The former led to a unique exchange between the mosque and All Saints when clergy from many Christian denominations and the area Bishop joined the worshippers at Friday prayers at the mosque and Muslims joined the Parish Eucharist on the following Sunday. The sermons jointly preached by a priest and an imam were the same at both acts of worship as were readings and intercessions.

The Council has been exercised by the challenge of radicalisation. It established a small “think tank” which has also met bi-monthly and which operates under the Chatham House rule. This group has been enabled to study and work together and used Ed Hussein’s The Islamist, and the White Paper on combatting extremism which led to a public meeting on identity, Who am I? addressed by Christian and Muslim speakers. This issue continues to be an important focus for the work of the CCMR

Throughout the focus has been on promoting community cohesion. One highlight of the year is the invitation to Christians to join the procession through the town to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet (PBUH). The processions stops in the Market Square, outside the Church of All Saints, and the Rector and other ministers are invited to address the great assembly of Muslims. A common word was a great enabler in this and in facilitating other inter faith occasions.

The majority of Muslims in High Wycombe are from Pakistan and the links with that country are very strong. The CCMR has decided that a focus for its work in 2015 will be on supporting Christians in Majority Muslim countries like Pakistan. The CCMR has been addressed by a Pakistani bishop, Alexander Malik and other Christian ministers from Pakistan as well as Islamic scholars.

The CCMR, which is over 8 years old, has a proven track record of promoting community cohesion and supporting interfaith initiatives. Its members include the leaders of all of the mainstream churches and mosques. It faces great challenges from radicalisation of some young Muslims but it has created a Council whose members have come to know each other well, trust each other and indeed, in many cases, have become firm friends.

Chaudry Shafique, MBE, Chairman
The Revd Hugh Ellis, Vice Chairman
Laurence Smy, Chairman Think Tank

Dated 5th January 2015