“As the Uniting Church takes part in 40 days of prayer ahead of our 40th anniversary, we are mindful that this is also a holy time of prayer and fasting for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
“We pray that in both our faiths it will be a time of renewal and drawing closer to God’s peace.”
Mr McMillan said the Iftar dinners were one way of building greater harmony in the community.
“The sharing of the Iftar meal between Muslims and Christians has become a powerful symbol of love for neighbour,” said Mr McMillan.
“I am glad that Uniting Church members will share this time with Muslim friends, particularly as we mourn and condemn recent terror attacks across the world.”
“The greatest defence we have against terrorism is to replace fear and hate with love. Our best response to the attacks in London, Kabul, Manchester, Baghdad and Minya in Egypt, wherever extremist violence takes place, is to try even harder to build a more welcoming, inclusive and peaceful community where we live and encourage others to do the same.”
Ramadan is a sacred time for Muslims, marked by fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam. The Iftar meal is the ‘breaking of the fast’ for Muslims at sunset each day throughout Ramadan, which this year extends from 27 May to 25 June.
The Iftar dinners will take place at Craigieburn Uniting Church in Melbourne on Thursday 8 June, at Parramatta Mission in Sydney on Wednesday 14 June and at the Uniting Church Centre in Auchenflower in Brisbane on Sunday 18 June.
The Iftar dinners are a partnership between the Assembly, Synods and local congregations as well as Muslim partners, including the Affinity Intercultural Foundation in NSW and the Australian Intercultural Society in Victoria. The Sydney dinner, in its fourth year, is also supported by Uniting NSW.ACT.
Convenor of the Assembly Relations with other Faiths Working Group Rev. Michael Barnes said the Iftar dinners will celebrate the diversity of Australia and foster new friendships.
“Muslims in this country experience racism at levels much higher than non-Muslim Australians and Muslim women in particular are the target of physical and verbal attacks in public spaces.”
“We cannot stand by and ignore this. People of all faiths in Australia should feel free to express their faith without fear,” he said.
“As Christians, we believe all human beings are made in the image of God, whatever our gender, our race or our faith.”
“We are thankful to our Muslim friends for their example of great hospitality, welcome, and respect in the sharing of the Iftar meal with people of all faiths.”
“We believe that by coming together, sharing a meal and listening to each other’s stories, our own lives and faith can be enriched,” said Rev. Barnes.
Rev. Barnes encouraged Uniting Church members and congregations to reach out to Muslims in their local community.
“It may be as simple as offering a greeting or sending a message of support to your local mosque, or indeed attending one of the many Iftar meals that are being hosted.”
The Uniting Church co-hosted Iftar dinners will use the hashtag #friendsinfaith. We encourage any Uniting Church members who attend an Iftar meal to use the hashtag when you share your thoughts and photos on social media.