National interfaith honour for young Leeds priest

A young Leeds priest has received national recognition as one of 21 young champions of interfaith engagement as judged by a panel made up of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders across the country.

The Revd Heston Groenewald (37), Pioneer Minister at All Hallows, Leeds has been chosen as one of seven Christians, seven Jews, and seven Muslims to be commended  for the 21 for 21 awards, a joint project between the Church Times, Jewish News and British Muslim TV.

The 21 for 21 project has been commended by the Prime Minister - one of the judges was the Prime Minister’s special adviser on communities, Jonathan Hellewell.

Heston was singled out for his work in building strong relations with local Muslim and Hindu leaders. His church café attracts customers of all faiths.

Nominating Heston was  Near Neighbours Co-ordinator (West Yorkshire), Kaneez Khan, who described him as a “caring individual who opens his arms to all communities.”

Heston opened a Syrian Kitchen in 2016, which enables Syrian refugees to spend the day at his church cooking meals and talking about their culture with others. He also recently joined Muslims and Jews to lead a counter–demo against a far-right gathering in Leeds.

Heston sees interfaith work as a natural part of his role as Priest-in-Charge of All Hallows Leeds. “Unity and diversity can happily co-exist”, says Heston. “Where we can create a space where people of different faiths can meet each other and become friends – that’s where the seeds of love are sown.”

The Church Times described the 21 for 21 project as “the best sort of talent contest…. None of the 21 people chosen by the judges put himself or herself forward.”

Commenting on the accolade, Heston said, “It's a lovely honour and affirmation, but I feel like a bit of a cheat really to get an award for doing what millions of Christians do every day- looking to encounter Christ in our diverse and fascinating neighbours!

“It is good to have interfaith work spotlighted and celebrated. I just wish there was room on this award for 10,000+ names. But [I am] privileged to receive this on behalf of many people of all creeds and colours, who share this joyful wonderful ministry day in and day out.”

 

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