Thursday, 18 December 2014

Jay Phillilps Center for Interfaith Learning

For your edification and education and exploration - a very interesting interfaith site...

The Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning is a collaborative enterprise of the University of St. Thomas and Saint John’s University (MN), and it also serves the College of Saint Benedict (MN), which shares a common curriculum with Saint John's. Its mission is to promote interfaith learning, friendship, and service among people of various religions.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Multifaith Advisory Group (MAG) and Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV) respond to #SiegeSydney

Faith Leaders Call for Unity and Peace
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 
The members of the Victorian Multifaith Advisory Group (MAG) and the Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV) would like to offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the victims of the Sydney hostage crisis and their families.  We also extend our sincere gratitude to the police and emergency services personnel who put their lives at risk in the service of others.
We are shocked and saddened by this terrible act of violence and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragic event.  
Australia is a diverse and harmonious place where people from many different cultures, religions and spiritualties have made their home.  Together, we live in peace and respect one another.  
We support the National Board of Imams and the wider Muslim community who have stated that the beliefs and acts of the individual responsible do not reflect the teachings of Islam, nor the desire for peace of Australian Muslims.  
During this sad and difficult time we call upon all Australians to unite in affirming peace and continuing to support one another.  
The overwhelming community support, including the #illridewith you Twitter campaign is heartening and reflects our shared humanity and values.  
We encourage all people to reach out to each other in the spirit of peace.     
The MAG consists of approximately 20 senior representatives from Victoria’s diverse faith communities, including the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and interfaith communities. The MAG represents the voice of Victoria’s faith leaders to the Victorian Government.
The FCCV is an umbrella multifaith body contributing to the harmony of the Victorian community by promoting positive relations between people of different faiths and greater public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, customs and practices of Victoria's diverse faith traditions.  
This statement is supported by the following MAG members:
  1. Anglican Archdiocese of Melbourne
  2. Baha’i Community of Victoria 
  3. Coptic Orthodox Church Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions
  4. Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria
  5. Gary Bouma, Chair of Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific region
  6. Hindu Council of Australia, Victoria Chapter
  7. Hindu Foundation
  8. Interfaith Centre of Melbourne 
  9. Islamic Council of Victoria
  10. Jewish Communities Council of Victoria
  11. Lutheran Church of Australia, Victorian District
  12. Rabbinical Council of Victoria
  13. Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, Australian and New Zealand Diocese
  14. Salvation Army, Victoria
  15. Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria
  16. Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria & Tasmania
  17. Victorian Council of Churches
  18. Victorian Multicultural Commission
Media contacts: 
  • Bishop Phillip Huggins, Anglican Archdiocese of Melbourne, 0418 799 515 
  • Nail Aykan, Islamic Council of Victoria, 0430 545 800
  • Rabbi Ralph Genende, Rabbinical Council of Victoria, 0411 417 174

#illridewithyou is surging forward, breaking down barriers and building community

Please go to the ABC site for a larger version of this
and the accompanying article.

Not just interfaith - it's community

Love this pic from the SBS site.
Australians are catching on - this not just interfaith, it is community!

A reflection on the sad events at the Lindt Cafe...

Below is an excerpt from a thoughtful and well-reasoned article in New Matilda yesterday.  
Please go here to read the article in its entirety.

16 Dec 2014

The Narrative Must Shift: Randa Abdel-Fattah On The Need For A New Conversation

By Randa Abdel-Fattah
The exploitation by media and some in our community of the events of the Lindt Cafe siege compel a different response, writes Randa Abdel-Fattah. 
It’s an ISIS flag. No it’s not. It’s a flag with Islamic writing. Wait Islamic isn’t a language. Sydney is under siege. Well, actually a man has taken hostages in a chocolate cafe in Sydney. The police are working on the situation. No Ray Hadley is… no the police are… no Ray Hadley… Devices have been planted around the city. We’re not sure how we know this because no contact has been made with the gunman but let’s whip people into a frenzied panic anyway. People have evacuated nearby buildings… except for those who were taking selfies one hundred metres from the café and posting them on social media.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Unlike people, heartache doesn't discriminate ...

Words are insufficient to express our sadness - but, Sydney, we are with you


We are one but we are many and #illridewithyou

We are one - But we are many 
And from all the lands on earth we come 
We'll share a dream - And sing with one voice 
I am, you are, we are Australian

Read this below and then go to the original article:
With hostages still in danger and central Sydney in lockdown, residents have turned to social media to spread a message of tolerance.

Locals have became concerned about the potential for rising intolerance or aggression towards people wearing religious dress.

One woman started what soon blossomed into a social media campaign to stand in solidarity with the city’s Muslims.

Tessa Kum, a TV content editor and writer living in Sydney, told Guardian Australia she acted after seeing a tweet from Michael James.  She then posted offering her company to anyone in religious attire on her route.

Fellow Twitter users swiftly joined in, offering their support.

Others picked a broader context to reinforce the statement.  And, much like the #putoutyourbats tribute to Phillip Hughes, the idea has caught on.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Comprehending the message: The difference between the Shahada and the ISIS flag

 The Shahada on black background on the left.
The Islamic State (ISIS) flag on the right.

What Is the Shahada?

The Shahada (also spelled “Shahadah”) is the Islamic Creed,
one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The word “Shahada” comes from the verb shahida,
meaning “he testifies” or “he bears witness.”
In reciting the Shahada, a Muslim bears witness
 that Allah is the only true god,
and that Muhammad is Allah’s prophet.
The shortest form of the Shahada would be translated:
“There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
Longer versions are common, especially those beginning with
 “I bear witness” or “I testify,” e.g.:
“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah,
and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
The question then is:
Are sympathisers with Islamic State appropriating the Testimony
for purposes which endanger human lives?
Postscript 2014-12-16
The Sydney Siege ended at 2 a.m,
The answer to the question above is:
A resounding yes.

A thoughtful post script from The Conversation 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The 160th Anniversary of Eureka will be celebrated at historic St Paul's on Bakery Hill - details below.

Father Constantine Osuchukwu is pleased to welcome you
to a very different celebration of Eureka
- at St Paul's we are celebrating humanity:
the international people of Ballarat 160 years ago
and the multicultural city that Ballarat is to-day.
There will be music, poetry, spirituality - and supper.

PS: Father Constantine is a member of Ballarat Interfaith Network 
and is the Interfaith Officer for the 

This week - on Wednesday December 3 - 
the 160th Anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion
will be commemorated and celebrated in Ballarat.  

and there is

And this year there is a new - and somewhat different - event 
on the Eureka Calendar - at St Paul's Bakery Hill in Ballarat.
St Paul's is the site of the establishment of the Ballarat Reform League.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Ballarat Community Garden is hosting a Multicultural Lunch: Sunday 16 November

Ballarat Community Garden
has a special occasion planned -
a Multicultural Lunch.
The garden is located on the corner of Dyte Pde and Queen St., Ballarat, 3350
Enter from Dyte Pde.
What a good way to make new friends!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Peace, harmony, inclusion! Happening in Ballarat on 8/9 November at the One Voice Fair

Ministers of Religion and leaders in faith organisations: The Working With Children Check briefing on changes to the Working With Children Act 2005.

The letter and the attached poster have come to the B.I.N. email box this week and the B.I.N. social media editor is publishing the documents here to provide easy and public access for Ministers of Religion and leaders within faith organisations to whom the Working With Children Check applies. The information poster can be read from this blogpost or downloaded and printed direct from the blogpost.


Attachments22 Oct (3 days ago)
to me
Good afternoon,

I am writing to invite you, or other representatives of your organisation, to an education session about recent changes to the Working with Children Act 2005. These changes broaden the legal obligation for ministers of religion to have a Working with Children (WWC) Check.

From 26 October 2014, all ordained or appointed religious leaders in Victoria (lay or ordained, paid or volunteer) are required to have the WWC Check, unless their contact with children is only occasional and incidental. 

The details of the education sessions are:
Date:Wednesday 5 November
Times:11:00am – 12:00pm and 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Location:Herring Room
Heritage on Lydiard
115 Lydiard Street North
Ballarat 3350

Light refreshments will be provided.

We would be grateful if you could promote these education sessions with members of your network.

Please be aware there are penalties for non-compliance with the Working with Children Act 2005. For individuals, there are fines of up to $35,426.00 and / or up to 2 year imprisonment. For organisations there are fines of up to $177,132.00.

To register interest for these education sessions, please or call 03 8803 8574.

Kind regards,

Martin West
Public Interface Officer
Working with Children Check Unit
Community Operations and Strategy
Department of Justice
GPO Box 1915 MELBOURNE  VIC  3001
( 03 8803 8574  Ê (03) 8803 8504  

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A new United Nations document urging more effort on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world

 From a World Council of Churches Press Release:

New UN document enables churches to do more for indigenous rights

New UN document opens door for churches to do more for indigenous rights
The WCC Indigenous People’s representatives in New York for the UN World Conference on Indigenous PeoplesScattered throughout the recent history of Indigenous Peoples are national treaties, declarations and laws that languish in obscurity or are brushed aside and ignored.
Scattered throughout the recent history of Indigenous Peoples are national treaties, declarations and laws that languish in obscurity or are brushed aside and ignored.
Adding insult to injury, when many national and local churches attempt to speak out about the denial of rights of Indigenous Peoples they are told by governments that the church has no place in politics, effectively being seen but not heard.
Yet a new “outcome document” of the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is about to turn that perspective on its head. The world’s governments are now inviting churches and other civil society groups to be seen and heard when it comes to advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ human rights.  [To read further please go here]

Friday, 26 September 2014

#BlessedAreTheCrazy - Breaking the Silence About Mental Illnesss, Family and Church

For Interfaithers who blog, please consider this synchroblog which is happening NOW!  Details below >>>

There is a synchroblog coming up. This is the facebook site which references it >>> The details below are copied from the site:

To commemorate the launch of Sarah Griffith Lund‘s new book — Blessed Are The Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church — and to participate in National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 5-11), we invite you to join in a Synchroblog on mental illness, family, and church.

Break the silence by sharing your personal story of how you’ve been impacted by mental illness in your family and/or in your faith community.

NOTE: We are joining with another synchroblog for this event, so the posting date and instructions are a bit different. This is also coming up quickly!

First, publish your post by midnight on MONDAY, October 6th. Post the links in the comment section here as normal. We at the synchroblog will post all your links over at the Facebook event for the other group.

If you want, you may also use the hashtag ‪#‎BlessedAreTheCrazy‬ when you post your links to your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Follow the hashtag:

Second, we will put up the full link list on Tuesday, October 7th for you to publish at the end on your blog post.

We hope you will participate and break the silence by sharing YOUR story!

Here is the Synchroblog post for this event:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Victorian Interfaith Network Conference 2014 - Sunday 23 November

The Faith Communities Council of Victoria, in association with Monash Interfaith Gathering and City of Monash, would like to invite you to the 2014 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference on Sunday, November 23rd 2014.
The Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference (VINC) is a grass-roots conference which aims to help build the capacity and sustainability of existing multifaith/interfaith networks, bring people up-to-date with current multifaith/interfaith matters and provide networking opportunities
Mulgrave Community Centre
The 2014 VINC will be held at Mulgrave Community Centre - 355 Wellington Road, Mulgrave Victoria (Melway 80 D1).
The City of Monash is one of the most culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse communities in Victoria with at least 45% of Monash residents born overseas, 69% with at least one parent born overseas, 48% speaking a language other than English at home and over 30 religions represented in the Monash Municipality.
Monash Interfaith Gathering and City of Monash look forward to hosting this annual multifaith event and creating an opportunity for dialogue, sharing of good practice examples, networking and relationship building.
  • 12:00pm-1:25pm Registration and Lunch (lunch closes 1:15pm)
  • 1:30pm-2:15pm Honoured guests and keynote speech on Domestic Violence: Why Faith Communities need to be involved
  • 2:20pm-3:15pm Workshops and Plenary sessions
  • 3:20pm-3:45pm Afternoon Tea
  • 3:50pm-4:45pm Workshops and Plenary sessions
  • 4:50pm-5:00pm Closing ceremony
Workshops & Plenary Sessions:
  1. Finding & writing grants for interfaith networks
  2. Ideas on what programs to run in your interfaith network
  3. Domestic Violence – why faith communities must be involved
  4. The role of interfaith networks in a growing multifaith Victoria
Enrolment for workshops and planery sessions can be made on the day of event. Each attendee can enrol in up to two sessions. Please arrive early to ensure you enrol in your preferred sessions. For more information on each session click here.
Registration:To register for this free event please go to - click on the green Register button, fill out your name and email address, and let us know of any special dietary requirements. Please note, places are limited so register early.
Further information:For more information on the 2014 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference please contact:
This event is proudly supported by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Faith Communities Council of Victoria, City of Monash and Monash Interfaith Gathering
Media release can be downloaded from here

Other material relating to the conference can be read on line and/or downloaded from the inclusions below:

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Confronting Modernity - why the revival of Sufism matters

Confronting Modernity: 
Why the revival of Islamic Sufism matters
by Shaheen Whyte

The Muslim experience of the modern world has been brutal. Colonial rule left behind it a legacy of interminable conflicts and political upheavals across much of the Middle East and North Africa, together with a desperate struggle on the part of Muslims themselves to find an appropriate political system that is capable of unifying their ethnic, religious and territorial divisions.
It is in this context that Muslims need to explore alternative approaches to the failed ideologies of the past, or indeed revive some of its lost traditions that for so long kept its civilisation intact and immune from dogmatic and violent discourses. This lost heritage is, of course, Islam's mystical or esoteric path -Sufism.
To get an understanding of Sufism, please check the following sites:

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

COMMON celebrates UN International Peace Day at Melbourne's Unitarian Peace Church. Museum of World Religions for Melbourne is on the agenda.

invites you to:
UN International Peace Day event - Sharing our Heritage

Date: Sunday 21st September 2014  
Time: 2-5pm
110 Grey Street, East Melbourne

Every religion, faith & belief has had an impact in history. Through the lessons of the past, we can acknowledge and move forward. Especially at this time, we must learn about each other. In Taiwan there is a Museum of World Religions. Could a Museum of World Religions, faiths and beliefs play a  role in Australian society?   
Representatives from the various museums in Melbourne including Jewish, Islamic, Indian, Unitarian and Aboriginal communities will be talking about their experiences.
Glenda Smith from Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House, Canberra) is our Special Guest.
Light vegetarian refreshments served. 
Places are limited. So please book early.
RSVP via: Email: SMS: 0411 300 655

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Compassion - an essential ingredient for a better community. Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council and Ballarat Interfaith Network come together to host an important conversation

Picture above:
Margaret Lenan Ellis (Public Relations Officer, Ballarat Interfaith Network),

Last Friday night, a successful interfaith public forum was held by the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council and the Ballarat Interfaith Network around the topic of Compassion - an essential ingredient for a better community. The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.) was the venue for the evening.  Here is a taste of what went on!

Table discussions ---- with food and friendliness.

Question time

Every war, every conflict between human beings has come about 
because of some argument about how things are described.
This craziness is totally unnecesary!

Just beyond the words that push us apart, a table waits. Hospitality. Companionship.
They wait for us to make ourselves comfortable.
What we praise is one!

It makes sense that the praise is also one!
So many jugs are emptied into an infinite basin.
So many religions. So much singing. Just one song!

The differences are merely illusion. Or maybe pride.
Sunlight itself looks slightly different on this wall rather than on that.
It may look quite different on a third. Yes, it’s just one light.
These clothes, these personalities: all borrowed from that same light.
When we praise with a full heart, we return light to Light. ------------- From Rumi

Video by Ian Hall

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Buddhism and Universal Responsibility

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche gave a one-day seminar on 
the topic of Universal Responsibility to students at Harvard Divinity School. 
For more about this

A speech by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama Of Tibet

The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama