Town centre visitors are encouraged to take a break from their Saturday morning shopping and listen to debates about their community and beyond in a series of Saturday morning monthly events at Christ Church, Woking.
The Woking Debates, arranged by Woking Action for Peace and supported by
Churches Together, Friends of the Earth, the Quakers and Surrey Faith Links amongst others, have been designed to encourage peaceful, united responses to underlying issues facing Woking and the wider community.
Speakers introduce topics ranging from housing to conflict resolution and equality for 20 minutes before the subject is thrown open to the floor in the sessions which run from 11am-12.30pm.
Surrey Faith Links Adviser Kauser Akhtar led Februaryâ€™s debate entitled Cultures and Faiths: Do they Strengthen Woking?, said: â€œThe Woking Debates have been arranged to encourage residents and people from farther afield to take time out to look at wider issues and perhaps draw conclusions together.
"I raised the question as to whether a multi-faith community is strengthened or weakened by its mix of different cultures, and was delighted to hear so many different views put together constructively.
â€œI spoke of the positive impact faith organisations have on society and the importance of distinguishing between faith and culture. People in Woking - where I live - have slowly started to interact with people from other faiths and cultures but a lot more work is needed to promote this sort of engagement.
"Encouragingly for us, we heard from a Sikh policeman who had moved to Woking from the Midlands and felt that the community here was much more integrated.
"The debate was courteous, caring, amusing and inspiring. There was agreement that the mixture of faiths and cultures in Woking was positive and that we can learn from each other and create together a more open and caring society.
"Looking ahead to the forthcoming programme I would encourage people to take some time out â€“ maybe after a coffee in Christ Churchâ€™s cafÃ© â€“ and join in the debate.â€
The debates are held in the Gallery at Christ Church and are free of charge, donations welcome. Future debates are -
16 March: Is Woking becoming a sustainable town? Ray Morgan, Chief Executive, Woking Borough Council
20 April: Where will our children live? Woking? The Revd John McCabe and a young person in need of housing
18 May: Can we become a more equal society? Sean Baine, Chair of the Equality Trust
13 June: Conflict resolution in divided societies: does it work? Andy Baines, postgraduate researcher on conflict resolution in Divided Societies
For more details contact Keith Scott on 01483 824980 or firstname.lastname@example.org