Embracing Difference is a day conference to be held in Harrogate in June encouraging awareness of the riches and challenges of inter-cultural relationships, marriage in particular, in our diverse and multi-faith society.
The idea for the conference began when a number of people from our diocese heard Janet Fraser-Smith share some of her research into cross cultural marriage. Pat Ainsworth, a trustee of the Mothers’ Union in Leeds Diocese wanted more people to be able to hear of her work and thought Janet’s work resonated with the ethos of the Mothers’ Union, particularly their topic for this year ‘Faith in Action’.
An article in the Guardian last year highlighted the increasing number of people in England and Wales living with, or married to, someone from another cultural group – probably as high as one in ten. It also highlighted the richness that such relationships bring but also some of the extra challenges.
Speakers at the conference, which takes place on 17 June at Harrogate Grammar School include Revd Henriette Howarth and Rt Revd Toby Howarth, Bishop of Bradford as well as Janet Fraser-Smith. The conference is open to all, not just Mothers' Union members.
Henriette and Toby moved to Shipley, in the Bradford area, in 2015 with their three daughters. They met when Henriette, who is originally from The Netherlands studied in England for a year. Together they have lived in a variety of contexts: India, the Netherlands, Birmingham and South London. When they lived in India Henriette was teaching Biblical Studies at a theological college while Toby did his PhD in Islamic studies. They have experience of and are committed to working with communities and churches in multi-faith and multi-cultural areas.
Janet immigrated to Canada as a young child and took a general degree in the USA before returning to the UK as an adult. After her marriage to Revd Keith Fraser-Smith, they worked in Egypt, Jordan, France and Cyprus as well as the UK. Her interest in cross-cultural marriage began as a child but developed as she worked in different places outside the UK. She has spoken and written for many years on cross-cultural marriage.
Based on research and conversations during her time overseas, Janet has written a workbook about cross-cultural marriage: Love Across Latitudes
Co-authored with Grete Shelling, Janet has written a similar book for the secular market: In Love but Worlds Apart - Insights, questions, and tips for the intercultural couple.