As the Muslim community in Australia marks the fasting period of Ramadan, Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan offers his good wishes to all Australian Muslims. The Uniting Church will host Iftar Dinners in five states during Ramadan as an expression of our solidarity and friendship with the Muslim community.
We encourage Uniting Church congregations and members to reach out to Muslims in your local community at this time and share with them this message from the President.
President’s Ramadan Message
As-Salaamu Alaikum. God’s peace be with you.
On behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia, I wish all Muslims in Australia a peaceful and holy period of Ramadan.
The Uniting Church has a longstanding friendship with the Muslim community in Australia. It is a friendship founded on mutual respect and our shared desire for peace and justice in our world.
During this time of Ramadan, we pray for the Muslim community in Australia. May your fasting, prayer and good deeds bring you closer to God and enrich your lives and community.
This year the Uniting Church is hosting Iftar Dinners in five states and cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and for the first time, in Hobart and Perth.
The Iftar is the breaking of the fast at sunset each day during Ramadan.
Our hosting of these events is an expression of our solidarity and friendship with the Muslim community in Australia.
Importantly, they offer an opportunity for Christians and Muslims, and people of other faiths and no faith, to sit side by side, share a meal and get to know one another.
In this simple act of breaking bread together, we break down barriers of fear and unfamiliarity. We come to know one another as brothers and sisters with a common humanity.
So often, it is in exchanges like this that we discover there is much we have in common. The same dreams for our families, the same concerns for our world, the same desire to know and love God.
To members of the Uniting Church in Australia, I encourage you to reach out to your Muslim neighbours during Ramadan. Share your good wishes and learn from each other.
The Uniting Church is deeply committed to understanding, friendship and co-operation with people of other faiths.
As Christians, we believe Christ came to the world so that all people might know God’s love for them. Our God delights in diversity and longs for us to live in harmony.
May we all seek friendship with people of different faiths and cultures from our own. In a world that is easily divided by differences, it is so important that people of faith build bridges together.
These relationships are the cornerstone of a peaceful and just world.
Uniting Church in Australia
Mägayamirri Rom means “the way of peace and tranquility, harmony with the whole of creation, be with and within you.” in the Yolŋu languages of North East Arnhem Land.
You can download the President's message below.
Friendship opens doors
Friendship between people of faiths will bring the Australian community together.
This was the message shared by Kamaljit Kaur Athwal, a member of the Sikh community, at the Queensland Synod’s promotional event for the Study Guide to the document “Friendship in the Presence of Difference”.
The gathering was hosted by Moderator Rev. David Baker at the Queensland Synod Office and included Presbytery Ministers from across the State, civic leaders and representatives from interfaith organisations and other faiths including Muslim, Jewish, Baha’i and Hare Krishna.
“Knowing our neighbours and understanding their way of life through culture and faith opens many doors,” said Kamaljit.
“Acknowledging and accepting differences eradicates preconceived thoughts and fears. This acceptance leads to harmony and even friendship.”
The Study Guide was produced by the Assembly Relations with Other Faiths Working Group
Rev. Heather Griffin, a leading author of the resource, said the Study Guide was designed for Uniting Church members to encourage greater friendship with people of other faiths.
“It is our belief that genuine interfaith friendship embraces difference rather than allowing difference to create division and distrust,” said Heather.
“We, as Christians, are learning that to live peacefully in the presence of difference is to also be renewed and transformed in our own Christian faith.”
Brisbane City Councillor Nicole Johnston congratulated the Uniting Church on its example of creating friendship across religious divides. Sgt Dave Lucas from Queensland Police Cultural Support Unit gave an outline of how the police force has recognised the need to work with the community across different faiths and cultures.
South Moreton Presbytery Minister David Busch spoke about how interfaith friendship and hospitality was a part of our Christian call to mission in the world.
In October last year, the Queensland Synod passed a resolution to “strongly encourage congregations to engage in constructive dialogue and fellowship with local communities of other faiths.”
In the spirit of this resolution, Heather urged those present to take up the resource and share it with others.
“I recommend this series of ﬁve studies to you as a user friendly resource which draws on group participants’ personal experiences in parallel with biblical examples.”
“It is deliberately short, easy to read and to discuss.”
Further resources for those who want to go deeper are available on the website assembly.uca.org.au/fipd.
Photos from QLD Synod
Peace Dinner embodies hospitality of Christmas
Leigh Memorial Church, Parramatta Mission brought together people of different faiths and cultural backgrounds to celebrate Jesus’ birth and the peaceful world God envisions for us all.
Faith and cultural leaders as well as members of the wider community gathered for the third annual Christmas Peace Dinner on December 2.
The more hate we see, the more we must love
The Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamad and the President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan have jointly condemned the horrific attack on worshippers at the al-Rawdah mosque in Egypt and lament the terrible loss of lives.
Who is my neighbour?
Speakers from four different faith traditions offered some insights into their faith at the ‘Who is My Neighbour?’ seminars hosted by St Peter and Emmaus Uniting Church in the Perth suburb of Mount Hawthorn.
Around 80 people of many backgrounds and faiths from across Perth attended the evenings held each Thursday night over four weeks in September.
Balancing Religious Freedom and Rights
The 45th dialogue meeting of the Uniting Church and Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) met in Sydney, hosted by the ECAJ at their offices. Six members of the UCA from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria met with five representatives of the Jewish community.
The Dialogue discussed religious blasphemy laws around the world and their implications.
As Gordon Uniting Church marks Interfaith September, I am reading, ‘Without Buddha, I could not be a Christian’ by the Catholic theologian Paul Knitter.
Young people empowered in diversity
In the space of just four hours, I was able to meet people from 10 different faiths, each bringing a unique and valuable contribution to a conversation about how we can change our world for the better.
I was at an event called Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World’s Religions) - what is thought to be Australia’s largest interfaith gathering of young people.
Interfaith learning in Indonesia
April Robinson from VIC/TAS Synod's Uniting through Faiths has returned from an interfaith youth leadership program in Indonesia. This is her reflection.
Last month, 35 people from 14 countries and regions gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia for YATRA (Youth in Asia Training in Religious Amity). I attended on behalf of the Uniting Church.
A Message of Peace
A film depicting how St Francis of Assisi met with the Sultan of Egypt at the height of the crusades highlights how interfaith encounters might lead to peace and understanding today.
About 500 people of different faiths attended the premiere of the docudrama The Sultan and the Saint at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South Campus on 29 July.