The Revd Devin McLachlan tells us more about his background and journey to his role as a Bishop's Advisor for Inter-faith
I was ordained in the Episcopal Church (in the USA) nineteen years ago (in 2004), having as a young adult returned to the calling I’d first heard as a child. I’ve served in churches and chaplaincies in both the US and Cambridge — including at the University of Chicago; St Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle; Jesus College, Cambridge; and Great St Mary’s, Cambridge. During that time I’ve been blessed to be involved with local interfaith groups, as well as briefly working the Parliament of the World Religions; along with that interfaith experience, I have bachelor’s degree in Folklore & Mythology as well as a Masters of Divinity. It’s been a blessing to celebrate and encourage local Christian engagement with other faith communities in our midst. As a Christian, I believe that building relationships with other religious communities can strengthen our own faith – recognising our differences as well as our commonalities, and learning fresh perspectives about the world and about how the Church is perceived outside our own walls. I also believe that working alongside other faiths is an effective strategy for Christian relevance in the face of both secularism and sectarianism.
I’m looking forward to encouraging and facilitating interfaith connections between our church communities and local non-Christian faith groups - and to celebrating the interfaith connections that have already been going on for years in the Diocese of Ely. The language that the Church of England uses is Presence & Engagement. In other words, effective multi faith work is about engaging locally with our non-Christian neighbours, on a personal and community level. There is already excellent theological and academic work being done, but it’s our local community relationships that are at the heart of Christian interfaith engagement. In an era of rising sectarianism and nationalism - both at home and abroad - multi faith relationships continue to be an important, Gospel-driven antidote to the language of division and isolation.
As an American, the subject of RE is new to me - a topic we rarely cover in American state schools. I’d love to help as a resource (or resource-finder) for parish schools when it comes to non-Christian RE; if this is something you are interested in, please do be in touch. I would love to enable PCCs, deaneries, RE teachers or classes, and other church groups to visit with non-Christian faith groups in our midst. In Cambridge the new Cambridge Central Mosque and the recently renovated synagogue at Cambridge Beth Shalom are very open to welcoming visitors; there are also growing communities in Ely and Peterborough and in our growing market towns who are looking to engage with their neighbours in new ways. If you think your parish or school could benefit from learning about another faith, please be in touch with me!