A New series from CTL -Spotlight on The Feast, Luton

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What does The Feast do?

Our aim at The Feast is to raise up resilient young people who are confident in their identity and beliefs, but open to those whose identity and beliefs are different to their own. We teach teenagers and young people to be comfortable to discuss challenging issues and equip them to be committed to living well with their neighbours, especially those who are not like them, for the good of society.

The way we do this, is by running youth encounters. These are events where they come together with peers from a different group, providing opportunity to connect with other young people they may never otherwise meet to engage with. There are three elements to a Feast youth encounter: fun, food and dialogue. We have enjoyed all sorts of fun activities together, such as trampolining and bowling, Escape room and visiting different places of worship.

We always have an element of intentional dialogue at our encounters. We might have “getting to know each other” questions such as: “What is your favourite day of the year and why?” or “What is the festival most meaningful to you?”
We might have more searching questions such as “What are your thoughts about prayer?” or “Which person featured in your Scriptures would you most like tomeet and why?”
Once the young people are more confident with one another, usually once they have met several times, conversations might revolve around more sticky topics. We talk about how we can  really make a difference, or ask questions about what we don’t understand about someone else’s faith. At one encounter we ended up discussing Andrew Tate!

The young people are often a little unsure when they first come to an encounter. But most of them have come to more than one. They tell us the impact engaging positively with someone from a different culture or faith has on them: “I spoke to people I normally wouldn’t have and learnt more about them whilst having fun.”   “I feel more confident speaking about my own beliefs and learning about other people’s.”

Our young people have told us that, through engaging with The Feast, they have become more confident in their own faith. Maybe it comes from having to explain your beliefs to someone  who doesn’t necessarily share those in an open way. Being able to share your beliefs without feeling like you have to defend them is really powerful!

We manage the dialogue part of our encounters quite carefully. They are framed by our Guidelines for Dialogue

Everyone who has engaged with these guidelines has found them to be transformational and powerful. They work! They encourage us to listen to someone else with openness and in order to understand, whilst at the same time helping us to express our own beliefs in a respectful way. Especially in discussions where people do not share a point of view. Our aim is not to find the lowest common denominator and conclude that really we are all the same (which is nonsense). Our aim is to create engagement with one another that fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of what the world looks like from someone else’s perspective.

Again and again, we hear how people have learnt to be more open towards those of a different faith by using our Guidelines for Dialogue. They have experienced that having the openness to someone else’s perspective that they don’t agree with is not the same as watering down your belief. And that the openness and understanding that we foster towards one another creates an acceptance of the other which leads to better relationships, and then to the possibility of working effectively together for the good of our town.

2024 marks the 15 year anniversary of The Feast. We will be holding celebratory events – will you join us?

To be kept informed, please contact Ulrike
The Feast Luton
Ulrike Hunt – Luton Development Manager: 07833 146155