Interfaith September

We invite you to help us spread the word about Interfaith September. For each week of September, we'll suggest an action people can take to build friendship and understanding across faiths.

You can download the images and share them on your Facebook page, your website or elsewhere. Alternatively, print them as a poster or hand out. 

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

Shareable Week 1 b
Shareable Week 2

WEEK THREE

WEEK FOUR

Attend an Interfaith Event
Shareable Week 4

More

 
god delights in diversity
Friendship presence

To learn about the theology guiding the Uniting Church in its relationships with people of other faiths, you can study the theological resource Living with the Neighbour who is Different: Christian Faith in a Multi Religious World which was adopted by the 9th Assembly in 2000. There is also a Study Group Resource.

To explore how Christians give witness to their faith in Christ while living in communities of different religious convictions, read the statement Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct, written by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) in 2011.  

For schools and young people

Together for Humanity is a multi-faith organisation dedicated to building a more tolerant Australia through online resources and workshops in schools and the community. The online teaching resource Difference Differently includes an interactive Diversity Q & A with diverse Australians sharing thoughts on culture, diversity and belief on video and text. 

Connect with people of other faiths

We have has a list of contacts for religious and interfaith organisations in Australia at national, state and local level. 

Reading

Excerpts from My Way: A Muslim Woman’s Journey by Mona Siddiqui

(In Islam)…God loves when human beings obey. In contrast, Christianity is seen as a religion which is about God’s love for man, not man’s love for God. Here God loves irrespective of whether human beings obey.

There are other pronounced perceptions. Islam is bound by the limits of law, a kind of servile obedience, whereas Christianity believes in God’s unlimited love. Christianity stresses that God is understood to be acting in the course of human history, that God is sustaining the world through an act of will. In Islam, there is a sense that though God is near humanity and guides history, through his transcendence he is external to history. Observing some of the historical and present polemics between the two religions, one could legitimately ask if dialogue is not directed at conversion to Christ or to the event of the Qur'an, what is its real purpose? Yet even if we understand God's interaction with humanity in different ways, I would reply that constructive dialogue does not diminish one's faith but rather enlarges it. What we believe, how we listen to others and how we learn are part of the dialogue journey; we can be interested in learning for the sake of learning, for the hope of self-transformation, quite simply by trying to understand the many ways in which others feel God is a presence in their lives.

...

As a Muslim who has lived most of her life in the West, I have learnt that faith speaks to faith in many ways. Dialogue has been a process of learning and accepting, of questioning and appreciating, of self-doubt and humility. Most importantly, it has been to understand that talking about a common humanity demands much generosity in the face of practical difference. Engaging in dialogue is an extension of ihsan for me, ‘To Act knowing that even if you cannot see God, he can see you.’ Thus, I sit with Christian theologians who are friends, who are challenging, who are suspicious and with those who are just willing to talk. Personally, I am not interested in pluralism, exclusivism or inclusivism as philosophical systems to work within. My interest lies primarily in the diversity of theological debates that both traditions have about human nature, divine nature and the eternal question of the relationship between God and man. We should always feel that we remain open to thinking about God in new ways. As the Qur’an itself says:

And if all the trees on earth were pens and the oceans [were ink], with seven oceans behind it to add, yet the words of God will not be exhausted; for God is exalted in power, full of wisdom.  (Q37:27)

….

Today, belief in God is for most people a personal choice, even if it is viewed as an act of grace. However, I think that once we have committed ourselves to talking about a God who is merciful and loving, a God who intercedes in human history, then we are obliged to rethink not just who we are as people of faith but also what does our faith mean when it comes to engaging with others. When someone stands in front of me, I have the option of listening, holding my hand out in friendship or simply turning away. If we are living in the presence of God, we need to believe in ourselves and in others that our faiths and cultures can have a positive impact and work for the welfare of the wider society, the public good. Silence here is not an option, faith here is not something to be hidden but must be open and generous, especially if it means facing our own fears and prejudices. Our creeds and convictions are intrinsic to our identities but every relationship we have with one another reflects in some way our covenant with God. Life is a series of encounters in which God is always present.

Source: My Way: A Muslim Woman’s Journey by Mona Siddiqui, Chapter Four “Christians, Muslims and Dialogue” pp. 123-4, 141-2. (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2015).

Download this resource as a PDF

 

hands women dialogue

 

1. Seek ways to enter into dialogue with neighbours of different faiths.

Keep an eye out in your community for things like festivals, fetes and open days - they’re a great way to connect.

 

2. Plan dialogue together.

Decide what the focus of the dialogue will be. A common cause or shared local issue is a good starting point to learn about each other’s faiths or simply getting to know one another.

 

3. Be mindful of the religious, cultural and ideological diversity in your community.

Be aware of areas of tension and discrimination in your community. Are Muslim women who decide to wear the hijab or burqa treated differently? What about Sikhs who wear dastaars?

 

4. Allow participants to describe and witness to their own faith in their own terms.

Share openly and honestly about your faith and expect others to do the same. Listen carefully and respectfully to each other.

 

5. Seek to generate educational efforts in your own faith community about other faiths.

Share the insights of your interfaith dialogue with others in your community. Education is an important step in overcoming distorted images and false assumptions.

 

6. Share about your lives together.

Interfaith relationships are grounded in the sharing of our daily lives. Begin by asking a neighbour of another faith to explain the meaning of a custom or festival.

 

7. Look for common activities or pursuits based on a shared concern for humanity.

Different faiths often share the same yearning for a just community. Climate change, refugee policy, youth wellbeing and community welfare are some possible examples.  

 

8. Be aware of the cultural influences we bring to dialogue.

When we meet each other, we bring with us our cultural conditioning and historical memory. Consider these influences on the dialogue process.

 

9. Be open to sharing in each other’s celebrations, rituals, worship and meditation.

These are excellent opportunities to build mutual understanding and respect.


These guidelines are adapted from the World Council of Churches’ Guidelines on Dialogue with Living Faiths and Ideologies. Read the full statement and guidelines at: http://ow.ly/QNlt8

Other helpful links: http://ow.ly/QNluo | http://ow.ly/QNlwf | http://ow.ly/QQiHV

Download this resource as a PDF

 

What is Interfaith September?

Interfaith September is an opportunity to build understanding and friendship with people of other faiths.

As Christians, we believe diversity is a part of God's creation. Our faith in Christ calls us to live together in peace and love and to engage in genuine dialogue with people of other faiths.

In Australia today, there is much work to do healing divisions caused by ignorance, fear and poor understanding. But by reaching out to people of other faiths, we can make a difference.

When we come together, we realise how similar we are. We appreciate our differences in a much more nuanced way. The friendships we make can transform and enrich us.

Standing together, we send a strong message to those around us about our shared desire for peace and harmony.  

We invite you to get involved in Interfaith September in any way that suits you. You may follow the worship resource each week, theme a sermon, use a suggested hymn or host an event. You may choose another time of year that is more suitable. It is up to you. 

This year we have produced four resources:

 

  • Lectionary Guide A week-by-week reflection on the gospels contained in the Lectionary for September with four different interfaith themes.

  • Worship Resource Alongside the Lectionary Guide, the worship resource includes sermon starters, links to other resources, an Order of Service and other ideas.

  • Videos Six videos sharing stories of interfaith friendship. These are matched with the four weekly themes of the Lectionary Guide and could be shared during worship or community gatherings.

  • Interfaith Action Ideas and tips for how you can reach out to people of other faiths and build on understanding and friendship 

We are grateful to UCA theologian Rev. Dr Clive Pearson for his work compiling the interfaith reflections and worship resources.

We look forward to hearing how you have participated in Interfaith September this year.

Wishing you a fruitful and enriching journey!

Rev. Michael Barnes
Convenor, Assembly Relations with other Faiths Working Group


For questions related to Interfaith September, please contact the Assembly RoF Working Group via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read about how some people celebrated Interfaith September in 2015. 

What is Interfaith September?

Building understanding and trust between people of different faiths is more important than ever.

In our communities, we are coming to terms with rising levels of fear and distrust of people of other faiths. However, our faith in Christ calls us to live in harmony with all people and so contribute to a world of peace, justice and hospitality.

Every September, Uniting Church members and congregations are encouraged to respond to this call by seeking out ways to foster understanding and co-operation with people of other faiths.

The Assembly Working Group on Relations with Other Faiths provides the Interfaith September resource to assist people on this journey.

Beginning on the first Sunday of the month, ‘Interfaith September Sunday’, we invite Uniting Church groups, congregations, and any interested individuals to begin conversations on how we relate with people of other faiths, and to explore ways to build interfaith harmony.

It is an invitation to hospitality, conversation and friendship with people of all faiths.

The resource below includes a week-by-week guide to the Lectionary based on four different interfaith themes and four video clips featuring people of different faiths. There is also a tool kit of ideas on how to host an interfaith event, a guide to dialogue and other interfaith resources. We encourage you to use and adapt these resources to suit your own needs.

We offer our sincere thanks to Rev. Dr Clive Pearson for his work in compiling what is an excellent worship resource for congregations during Interfaith September.

We welcome feedback and would love to hear about the ways you have participated in Interfaith September.

Wishing you an enriching journey ahead.

Rev. Michael Barnes
Convenor, Assembly Relations with other Faiths Working Group

 

 

 


For questions related to Interfaith September, please contact the Assembly RoF Working Group via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The best way to build interfaith harmony is in personal encounters with people of other faiths. Interfaith experiences can transform our understanding of other faiths and break through the barriers created by negative stereotypes. We encourage you to take the opportunity to host an interfaith event in Interfaith September.

 

Hospitality 6

Share a meal

The best way to build interfaith harmony is in personal encounters with people of other faiths. Interfaith experiences can transform our understanding of other faiths and break through the barriers created by negative stereotypes. We encourage you to take the opportunity to host an interfaith event in Interfaith September.

 

 

Hospitality 8

Host an Interfaith Panel

Invite a keynote speaker or gather a panel of one or more other speakers. Allow time for the audience to ask questions. Alternatively, you might simply invite a leader of another faith to speak to your congregation or faith group.

 

 

Host an Interfaith Festival

Hospitality 2

Organise a time and space for members of several different faiths to present something of their culture and faith tradition. You might include cultural performances, or time your celebration to coincide with Harmony Day or the International Day of Peace. Plan a program where each faith group can introduce a particular aspect of their faith tradition.

 

 

So you’ve decided on a interfaith event. What next?

  • Get input from those you intend to include.
  • Be clear about the purpose of the event. The aim is to foster an understanding of each other’s faiths. It is about sharing not conversion.
  • Avoid key times of worship or holy days for different faiths
  • Consult on the proposed venue. For example, if you intend on inviting Muslim guests, it would be appropriate to ask if they need access to a room for prayers.
  • If serving food, identify and cater for all dietary requirements of members of different faiths. If you are unsure, ask.
  • Research and be mindful of the etiquette required when meeting people of different faiths

You may have other ideas and these are most welcome. Please share with us your experiences: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download this resource as a PDF

Contact

PO Box A2266
Sydney South
NSW 1235

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 02 8267 4482
Fax:     02 8267 4222

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