It was a privilege to be hosted once again at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine for the Faith & Leadership Residential 2017. Last year the residential was a close to the programme, giving participants a chance to step back out of the busy schedule of the LSE and reflect on the key issues surrounding faith and leadership in such a diverse world. RFSK is a perfect setting for this, a retreat centre very close to Shadwell, but a bit of tranquillity in the midst of a city that never stops.
This year, the Faith Centre ran the residential earlier on in the programme, giving students a chance to get to know each other more closely, to eat together, to discuss themes brought by inspirational speakers and form a closer group for the duration of Faith & Leadership which runs until March.
The first afternoon consisted of a stellar panel to open, with Jonathan Hellewell, the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor for Faith Communities, Francis Campbell, former Ambassador to the Holy See, and current Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University, and Baroness Butler-Sloss, Chair of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life. The panel reflected on the relationship of faith to politics, how we make space for diverse opinions in public life, the challenges of this and the work that remains to be done in this burgeoning area of academic and public interest.
For the second Saturday session we welcomed Jasvir Singh OBE, family barrister and Chair of the City Sikhs Network and Foundation, recently recognised for his outstanding contribution to interfaith relations, Barbara Ridpath, Director of the St Paul’s Institute, and Professor Nava Ashraf, Director of Research at LSE Marshall Institute and from the Baha’i faith tradition. Following a scrumptious dinner, the group reconvened to hear Dr Desmond Biddulph CBE, President of The Buddhist Society reflect on The Buddhist Imagination.
On our final day, Revd Canon Dr James Walters, Chaplain to the LSE presided over an optional Eucharist in the chapel, giving Christian students a chance to worship in unique surroundings, and participants of other faiths a chance to experience an act of Christian worship.
The residential sessions on Sunday focused on the concepts underpinning leadership. Ruhana Ali, CEO of Nasiha Consulting, Programme Director for Common Purpose and LSE alumna led an energising interactive session on faith and values-driven leadership, including how to have conversations that go deeper, build genuine connections and inspire communities to movements for change. The residential finished with two intensive workshops on the four temperaments of leadership led by Krish Raval, Director of Faith in Leadership.
With much gratitude to our incredible panellists and speakers, our hosts at RFSK for making it such relaxing stay, and David Beecken, LSE alumnus for his generous funding which makes the residential possible.