David Gray appeared in an hour-long TV discussion on 9 December with two colleagues from Manchester’s interfaith community — local rabbi Warren Elf, and the well-known Muslim writer Qaisra Shahraj — which was screened live on cable channel That’s Manchester. You can watch a video of the event on YouTube here.
Pictured: David Gray and friends delivering presents to the Together Trust hospice in Manchester this week
Speaking before the event, David said: “We will be highlighting how we value each other’s festivals, and emphasising the message at the heart of the Christmas story about a refugee family fleeing a tyrant, that urges us all to see the divine in each other and vaue all humanity.”
‘The Big Debate’ programme aimed to challenge the accusation sometimes heard at this time of year that non-Christians are hostile to the celebration of Christmas. “This isn’t our experience here at all,” said David. He and the other two speakers are all active in Faith Network for Manchester, formed 10 years ago to promote dialogue between different faith groups.
“We always have a Christmas meal together, and an Eid meal together, and so on, to celebrate each other’s stories,” said David. Faith Network for Manchester also sends leaders from different faiths into schools in pairs or small groups. “It’s so important for children to see an imam and a rabbi, for instance, respecting each other’s faiths and enjoying each other’s company.”
David Gray was for over 20 years a member of the Franciscan Tertiary order, and for 12 years an Anglican priest, until he trained with One Spirit Interfaith Foundation (ordained in 2010) and “stepped into ministry as an independent”. He is UK servant leader for the Progressive Christian Alliance, and is involved in many community-building initiatives from his base at St Francis Monastery in Gorton, Manchester.
St Francis himself “was as much a Muslim and a Pagan as he was a Christian,” adds David. “And that of course is true of anyone who has made that breakthrough in their spiritual journey”.