The Hindu-Christian Forum (HCF) came into existence in 2002, following initial meetings in September 2000 and March 2001. It was constituted first as the Hindu-Christian Dialogue Group-UK at a meeting on 3rd November 2002, and then as the Hindu-Christian Forum by the end of 2003. A great deal of hard work went into formulating the best objectives and work programme for the Forum. A Goodwill Statement on the topic of conversion was agreed, and meetings were held two to three times a year, alternating between London and Leicester, and between Hindu and Christian venues. These meetings also included a day conference in Birmingham in July 2005, on the topic of suffering.

During the course of the following years there was a constant change in membership and it was gradually felt that the HCF needed to be linked more closely with local and regional activities, and that the overall direction it needed to take was not sufficiently clear. The group recognised that the future direction would need to be well-informed, realistic and creative in its approach to helping Hindu and Christian communities. As a result it was agreed that a research project in the form of a “listening exercise” attending to the voices of Hindus and Christians throughout the community, should be undertaken to lay the foundations for a new and revived Hindu-Christian Forum.

The HCF received a grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government with which to undertake this research, and in October 2009 it proposed to use focus groups and interviews to obtain in-depth information exploring the issues that affect Hindu-Christian relations. The interviews would represent a range of perspectives, and would focus on key concerns and possibilities, while seeking to remain inclusive. This would be used to generate ideas for the future direction of the Forum.

Researchers at De Montfort University helped to shape the first proposal for the research, and the project was then passed to the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) which, in consultation with the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, completed the proposal and began the research in earnest.

Bridges and Barriers to Hindu Christian RelationsThe subsequent findings and published report ‘Bridges and Barriers to Hindu Christian Relations’ by Dr Jessica Frazier of OCHS helped to formulate the future vision, aims and objectives of a national forum for Hindus- Christian Relations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams described the report as a “very creative and stimulating piece of work, which provides an enormous resource for reflecting on how dialogue can be pursued, and how at the grassroots level it is to be understood and worked with.”

On 23 November 2011, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Sri Shruti Dharma Das Ji launched the Hindu Christian Forum at Lambeth Palace, at an event which featured addresses from Andrew Stunell MP, Baroness Richardson, Lord Popat. The launch was introduced by Ven Richard Atkinson, Archdeacon of Leicester and Ramesh Pattni, Inter Faith Chair of the Hindu Forum of Britain.

HCF

Archbishop of Canterbury: 2002 – 2012, Rowan Williams (Photo Myles Fisher)

HCF

Sri Shruti Dharma Das Ji (Photo Myles Fisher)