One hundred and fifty members of Sydney’s Abrahamic faiths gathered at Parramatta Mission Fellowship Hall on 26 August for the annual Abrahamic conference.
Rev. Dr Manas Ghosh, the Convenor of the UCA Synod of the NSW and the ACT Relations with Other Faiths group welcomed the crowd that included representatives from a range of Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions.
The theme of the 2015 conference was “Respecting the Other’s Religious and Cultural Narrative.”
The keynote speaker was Executive Officer of the United Muslim Women Association Maha Krayem Abdo OAM.
The winner of last year’s NSW Human Rights Award spoke about her own Muslim faith and the respect that Islam calls her to show for Jesus, Moses and others who Islam considers as prophets.
“For me as an Australian Muslim woman I am obliged, I have no choice but to respect, not tolerate. You can tolerate a toothache. You can tolerate a headache. But to respect it has to come from here,” said Ms Abdo pointing to her heart.
Ms Abdo commented on how far interfaith dialogue had progressed since she first came to Australia from Lebanon in 1970, the sacredness she experienced in visiting the Vatican and Assisi with a Catholic religious group and the strong friendships she had made through interfaith activities.
Rabbi Gad Krebs from the Kehillat Masada Jewish community and Alice Priest a chaplain from St Scholastica’s Catholic College joined Ms Abdo on a panel to share their perspectives.
The discussion flowed freely between members of the audience as they sat in table groups and discussed the understandings they’d come to when they found themselves “in someone else’s shoes.”
The annual Abrahamic conference is co-sponsored by the Affinity Intercultural Foundation, the Uniting Church in Australia Synod of the NSW and the ACT, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Columban Mission Institute.