Harrow Interfaith

706. Jack Lynes (London)

Jack Lynes's outstanding work has involved an unusually large number of faith communities coming together to foster community cohesion in Harrow, one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in London. 

Jack was first inspired to begin interfaith work during the Second World War when he was evacuated to a small town. With no synagogue for his Bar Mitzvah, he was touched to be able to have the service in a local chapel and immediately saw the potential for encouraging further dialogue between the two faiths.

He has been involved in various interfaith initiatives ever since and, in his current role, leads members of nine faiths – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, those from the Baha’i Faith, Jains and Zoroastrians – and a humanist in various projects to improve life for people of all faiths and none across Harrow. Jack is particularly proud of bringing together Shia and Sunni Muslims on the group’s executive board. 

His pioneering work sees him host places of worship visits, discussions and social events to promote understanding and friendship between the faiths, as well as creating networks with the council, police and other grassroots organisations to ensure a diverse range of community voices are heard.

In a personal letter to Jack, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“Your leadership of ‘Harrow Interfaith’ is bringing people together and fostering community cohesion in one of London’s most ethnically diverse boroughs. Your efforts to promote understanding and friendship between people of different faiths and your work with key community partners such as the police and local council is ensuring that a diverse range of voices are heard across the borough.”

Jack said:

“I seriously wondered if I was dreaming when you advised me of a ‘Points of Light’ Award as whilst I have been honoured by Rotary with a ‘Paul Harris Award’ I have never expected any official recognition of my interest in Interfaith work. Indeed, the rewards have always been the resulting programmes that, over many years, have come about. I am a ‘Progressive’ Jew, (i.e. non-Orthodox) and as an evacuee at school during the war in Marlborough, I have often wondered if the fact that my ‘Barmitzvah’ (Confirmation) actually took place in a Wesley Chapel, may have sewn the seeds of my interests and commitment to Interfaith matters.

“Some few years ago I became involved in what was then called ‘Harrow Interfaith Council’ which had been started some thirty years ago, before even its Parent Body! Harrow, as you may know, has the largest multi-ethnic population in the UK. The organisation was successful, well, up to a point. I thought there was too much patting each other on the back and nowhere near enough effort in bringing more places of worship and individuals in to the organisation. After much effort, the name was changed, the word ‘Council’ was dropped. We are making progress and have now been able to include, as Associate members, Harrow Police Service, and Harrow Voluntary Services.

“This year, for the first time, HIF took responsibility for Harrow’s Holocaust Memorial Day Event, which was very successful. In addition to a Holocaust Survivor telling her story, and another from Darfur, we had songs from Harrow School Choir, a specially commissioned poem from Harrow’s own Poet, a Male Choir, and more. Of particular wonder, was the lighting a candles representing ever Faith, at the start of the evening.

“I am receiving this award on behalf of all those members of Harrow Interfaith who have made, and continue to make, such a valuable contribution to its vital work.”

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