Tuesday, 17 April 2018

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.”

Group shot

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

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