Thursday, 09 May 2019

Faithful Friends

May has been a very busy month for UCA activities with our friends and partners from different faith communities.

President’s Ramadan message

Dr Deidre Palmer has released a video message to Muslim friends to coincide with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“As Ramadan begins, I am reminded of the values which we share as Christians and Muslims – peace, love for one another and reconciliation,” said Dr Palmer.

“This year, in the wake of terrorist attacks in Christchurch and Sri Lanka, naming these values is more important than ever.”

“Ramadan is an opportunity for the Uniting Church to affirm our long-standing friendship with the Muslim community in Australia. It is a friendship grounded in mutual respect and our shared desire to build communities where we live in peace and goodwill as neighbours.

“To our Muslim brothers and sisters, we thank you for your deep faith modelled in your fasting, your generous hospitality and your kindness to others.”

In 2019, a number of Uniting Churches will again host Iftar dinners with local Muslim communities in a number of states and territories. Please check with your Synod for details of local Iftar events.

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Speaking out against racism and anti-semitism

Members of Uniting Church in Australia/ Executive Council of Australian Jewry National Dialogue have declared there’s “No Place for Hate” in the Australian Election Debate. Meeting in Sydney on 8 May, Uniting Church and Jewish community representatives considered the “spate of racist invective, vandalism and harassment” which is marring the 2018 Federal Election.

The 48th session of the discussed the experiences of candidates across the political spectrum who are being subjected to racist and other vile attacks and candidates who themselves have been involved in “disgraceful behavior” on social media and elsewhere. “We value our freedom of speech and appreciate passionate engagement and vigorous debate, but the quality of our national conversation is diminished by the type of attacks which have been made on far too many candidates.” “It is not just posters and corflutes which have been vandalised, the public discourse has been vandalised”

“Where acts have breached federal or state legislation, we urge authorities to act.” “In all circumstances, we urge not just party leaders but all people in positions of moral authority to consistently, speedily and forcefully speak out against racism and other forms of harassment”

The statement was issued by Jeremy Jones AM and Rev. Dr Matthew Wilson, Co-Chairs, UCA/ECAJ National Dialogue.

The importance of the strong statement was reinforced to UCA ministers and members who attended Yom Hashoah services around the country in early May in remembrance of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

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UCA hosts National Interfaith Dialogue

On Wednesday 1 May the UCA Assembly office was delighted to host a recent meeting of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews

The Dialogue, established in 2003, has three partners:

• The National Council of Churches in Australia (of which the Uniting Church is a member) • The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils • The Executive Council of Australian Jewry

Meeting several times each year, the Dialogue is an opportunity for the national bodies of each faith to come together to build understanding and harmony in the Australian context.

Assembly Associate General Secretary Mr Rob Floyd recently joined the dialogue representing the NCCA.

Meeting in the aftermath of recent acts of violent extremism in places of religious worship including Christchurch, Sri Lanka and San Diego, the group shared their concerns and considered how they might respond together.

All agreed in the importance of presenting a common commitment to peaceful and harmonious relations and denouncing language, labelling and actions wherever they arise that incite division and hatred in our communities, especially on the basis of faith.

The Dialogue hopes to meet with the incoming Federal Government after the election to consider ways we as faith communities in Australia can work with government both in Australia and in our region to further these commitments.

At this time all three Abrahamic faiths are celebrating important seasons in their religious life. The Dialogue members took the opportunity to share the significance of each of these, the Jewish celebration of Passover, the Muslim celebration of Ramadan and the Christian celebration of Easter. It was an enlightening conversation for all and important in better understanding each other.

The meeting concluded with a commitment to continue to gather together and to seek out positive ways to further engage together with government and the wider community.