Friday, 21 February 2014

Listening to the Land in Autumn with the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network and the guidance of an Gunditjamara Elder

Listening to the Land (Autumn)

Listening to the Land is an initiative of the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network. It seeks to bring people of different faiths and cultures  together to connect or reconnect with the Land and to be moved to care for the Land.

Our Autumn ‘Listening to the Land’ program is at Green’s Bush, Main RidgeSunday 23rd March, 2014,  11am .We will be celebrating Harmony Day.

Program begins at 11:00am and includes an introductory talk, a listening walk, a meditation and a shared lunch. The walk and meditation will be led by Gunditjamara Elder, Uncle Lionel Lauch.

Please note:
BYO Vegetarian food - something easy to share.
Plates and cups will be provided.

Look forward to seeing you there – sunshine or rain. The walk is mildly strenuous. The event is by donation. 
·        Venue: Green’s Bush, Main Ridge, Mornington Peninsula
·        Date: Sunday, 23rd March 2014
·        Time: 11am–2:00pm  (Lunch will be @ 1pm - BYO Vegetarian to share)
·        Cost: By Donation
·        Meeting Point: Baldry’s Crossing Car Park (@ 10:50am)
·        More information: Judy O’Donnell 0400 088 410 
·        Map Route: 
About Harmony Day
Harmony Day (21 March) is a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home – from the traditional owners of this land to those who have come from many countries around the world. By participating in Harmony Day activities, we can learn and understand how all Australians from diverse backgrounds equally belong to this nation and enrich it.

About Greens Bush, Main Ridge, Mornington Peninsula
Greens Bush is the largest remnant of bushland on the Peninsula and is home to various wildlife - Birds on the forest floor, in the scrub, in the tree canopy... there is lots of birdlife in Greens Bush. Look for wrens, honeyeaters, parrots and birds of prey such as the Black-shouldered Kite and Wedge-tailed Eagle. At morning or dusk, you can often see kangaroos feeding in the open grasslands. Black Wallabies prefer the forest and are well camouflaged in the shadows with their darker coat. However, most mammals in the park are nocturnal. As the light fades, listen for the soft twittering of Ringtail Possums or Sugar Gliders. The Little Forest Eptesicus Bat makes a higher-pitched call as it searches for insects, usually eaten on the wing.

The Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network (MPIN) 
acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the land, 
the Boonwurrung/Bunurong people, 
part of the Kulin Nation, and their elders past and present.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

An invitaton to a Women's Interfaith Model Passover Seder - 1 April 2014

The National Council
of Jewish Women Australian (Victoria)
Jewish Aid
 invite you to a:

Women’s Interfaith Model Passover Seder

DateTuesday, 1 April 2014   
Time: 7pm
NCJWA(Vic) premises 131-133 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield
Cost$10 for girls and $15 for adults

The National Council of Jewish Women in Australia (Vic) together with Jewish Aid will be hosting a Women’s Interfaith Model Passover Seder, the purpose of which is to provide opportunities for people of diverse faiths to specifically learn about Jewish festivals and traditions in a participatory experience, while at the same time promoting friendship and understanding.

We would like our participants to be girls about the age of 12 (Bat Mitzvah age) together with their mothers (or significant female such as grandmothers or aunts). In this way, we will be introducing young girls to interfaith dialogue, as well as sharing the richness of intergenerational  relationships and the passing on of family and faith traditions.

We envisage Jewish, Muslim, Christian (of different denominations) and other faiths being represented in significant female-daughter pairs.

We are seeking girls (about 12 years of age) and their mothers (or significant female), who would like to participate in such an event. (Unfortunately we only have space for one adult per student)

The event will take place in the evening of Tuesday 1 April 2014 at NCJWA(Vic) premises 131-133 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield. The evening includes a light kosher vegetarian meal incorporating some Passover/Pesach dishes. Participants will also receive a booklet explaining Passover.

If you would like further information 
please contact us on (03) 9523 0535 
or email
Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.
Please note: This is a womens only event.

 The event is supported by 
the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Celebrate International Women's Day - Friday 7 March 2014 - with a coalition of women's organisations at Dandenong

Download flyer below:

Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Women's Coalition, 
Women’s Interfaith Network Foundation
invite you to:
International Women's Day - 
Inspiring Change

Dandenong Uniting Church
crn Scott & Robinson Street Dandenong VIC 3175
Friday March 7, 2014  
Followed by a Vegetarian Lunch
prepared by the Hazara Women.
Together we can change the world by
Inspiring the old, the young and each other.
Drawing on the wisdom of faith, community and culture.
We can share the stories that make us laugh,
make us cry, make us think, motivate us and inspire us
to be better mothers,daughters, sisters, 
workers, friends, carers, partners, people.

This event is open to all ages, genders and faith communities.
This is a FREE event,
but it is essential you RSVP for catering purposes.
RSVP Contacts:
WIN Foundation:
Jessiee K Singh -  Phone: 0411 300 655

Fatima - Phone: 0421 563 200

Nga Hosking - Phone: 0401 990 055

More information:
See attached flyer or go to:

This event is proudly supported by the
Victorian Multicultural Commission

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Mayor of Ballarat speaks in support of building the city's first mosque

From the newsletter of the Faith Communities Council of Victoria:

Ballarat Mayor speaks out in support of mosque construction

By Lily Partland, 3rd of February 2014, ABC Ballarat
The Ballarat Mayor Josh Morris responds to an anti-Islamic group's opposition to the construction of a mosque. Anti-Islamic group Restore Australia is encouraging Ballarat residents to protest against the development of a mosque in Canadian.
ballarat-mosqueBut the Ballarat Mayor Josh Morris says the city's growing cultural diversity should be celebrated.
"One of the best things about Australia is its religious and cultural diversity.
"It's really important to note that we as a city are growing, we as a city are becoming more diverse, and therefore there's going to be a need in our community for facilities that are going to meet the needs of our growing and diverse community."
The Islamic Society of Ballarat's plans to build the city's first mosque at 116 Elsworth Street East have been approved by the City of Ballarat, with the building expected to provide enough space for 150 people to pray (photo above shows the site of the proposed mosque in Elsworth Street Canadian).
Cr Morris says while elected representatives have a responsibility to take into account the views of the community, objections to planning applications on the basis of political ideology are irrelevant to the planning process.
"Irrespective of faith everybody has a right to a place of worship and that's something that I certainly respect and something that I believe as a society we should respect."
The Catholic Mayor says while living in the United Arab Emirates he was fortunate enough to have access to a Catholic church.
"I think it's really great that we see within an Islamic nation that there was welcoming of people of diverse faiths and people such as myself.
"So I think it's really important that within our society we're welcoming and understanding of everybody who lives here."
By Lily Partland, 3rd of February 2014, ABC Ballarat

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Ballarat Interfaith Network supports the building of a mosque by the local Muslim community

Below is a Press Release from Ballarat Interfaith Network's Public Relations Officer, Margaret Lenan Ellis, to Ballarat's daily newsopaper,The Courier, in relation to previously reported opposition to the building of a mosque in Ballarat.  See previous comment on Beside The Creek here. ~~~~~~~~~

Express diversity in peace, understanding

By Margaret Lenan Ellis
Feb. 7, 2014, midnight
THE views expressed by Mike Holt of Restore Australia in The Courier on February 3 display attitudes which are unwanted and out of step in the 21st century.
This week marks the United Nations' celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which Ballarat Interfaith Network, in conjunction with Ballarat City Council, marks each year with a community flag-raising event.
Religious bigotry and exclusionist attitudes belong in the past, the network says in response to the announcement by Restore Australia that it plans to letterbox people in Ballarat in an attempt to whip up opposition to the building of a mosque in Ballarat.
Ballarat Interfaith Network believes dialogue and conversation to be more effective in establishing social and religious harmony rather than publishing prejudiced statements designed to incite further prejudice.
They see greater benefit in building bridges of understanding, rather than in driving wedges of distrust between people of different faiths.
Ballarat Interfaith Network wants the Ballarat community to feel free to express its spiritual diversity in peace, harmony and understanding, and therefore endorses the building of Ballarat's first mosque in a community blessed with many churches.
In this United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, Ballarat Interfaith Network is pleased that the building of this simple mosque is to proceed and supports "our Islamic friends in this endeavour".

United Religions Initiative Interfaith Gathering with Cultural Infusion and The Interfaith Network of the City of Grater Dandenong - 16 February 2014


Cultural Infusion cordially invites you to the:
United Religions Initiative Interfaith Gathering
Date: Sunday, 16 February 2014  Time: 3pm-6pm
Location: 18-34 Buckley St, Noble Park 3174

Leaders from the United Religions Initiative (URI), a global grassroots interfaith peacebuilding organisation with affiliates in Australia, will visit Melbourne February 14 – 17 and will take part in an interfaith gathering hosted by The Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong on the 16th of February at 3pm.
Kiran Bali, the Global Council Chair of the URI, and Victor Kazanjian, Executive Director of the URI, will attend the interfaith gathering and speak on such themes as:
  •     The importance of intercultural and inter-religious co-operation
  •     Building interconnected communities committed to respect diversity
  •     The nonviolent resolution of conflict
  •     Fostering social, political, economic and environmental justice
Bali and Kazanjian will also visit local organisations affiliated with the URI and meet with local leaders.
This visit is part of a global tour in which Kazanjian, recently appointed Executive Director, is meeting with URI staff and volunteers, and interfaith leaders.
Light Refreshments Provided
RSVP: Cameron Magusic  Phone: (+61 3) 9412 6666  Email:
by Tuesday 11th February (Limited Seats)
Proudly Supported by: United Religions Initiative (URI), Cultural Infusion, & The Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Dealing with the past: the importance of documents, archives in seeking justice, reconciliation and conflict resolution

Importance of documentation and archives in dealing with the past

Importance of documentation and archives in dealing with the pastElisabeth Baumgartner of the Swiss Peace Foundation speaking on “Dealing with the past” project at a WCC Archives event in Geneva.

22 January 2014

In a talk organized by the Archives of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Elisabeth Baumgartner, a Swiss lawyer and head of the project “Dealing with the Past” at the Swiss Peace Foundation (swisspeace), stressed the importance of archives and documentation in dealing with the past, which she said is pertinent to the institutional and informal mechanisms seeking justice, reconciliation and conflict resolution.

Baumgartner addressed the audience of members of local and international community in Geneva, involved with the work of archives, international affairs and peace-building.

Baumgartner’s talk, held on 20 January at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, was organized by the Forum of the Archivists in Geneva in collaboration with the WCC Archives.

Speaking on the issue of “Archives and Dealing with the Past”, access to information and the “right to know”, Baumgartner said that national and international mechanisms dealing with the past, such as investigations, truth commissions and tribunals, have a major responsibility in managing and maintaining the archives containing information regarding human rights violations.

She added that they need to “find a balance between information access and data protection in regard to witnesses and should be really aware of the importance of the archives for a society in a process of transition.”
At the event, Baumgartner also shared examples from East-Timor, Chile, Croatia, Guatemala, Argentina, the Philippines and South Africa on how archives remain sensitive and in danger so far as their use in mechanisms searching for truth and justice.

Baumgartner explained that archives useful for the investigation of human rights violations are to be found not only in the obvious institutions such as the courts, army and police, but also in hospitals, churches and human rights organizations. Therefore, she said that the “unrestricted access of such information to transitional justice mechanisms like tribunals and truth commissions is important.”

Another aspect, she continued, is the preservation, protection, maintenance of and access to archives created by such mechanisms. They constitute an “important legacy which should be made available to the societies” concerned with the human rights violations.

Baumgartner’s presentation particularly noted that the archives are essential to strengthen democratic institutions and law-based state structures after a period of deep crisis.

Baumgartner also introduced to her audience the project “Archives and Dealing with the Past”. The project is a joint initiative of the Swiss Federal Archives, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Swiss Peace Foundation, and it provides support to actors in the field of transitional justice related to the protection, preservation and management of human rights archives.

WCC Library and Archives

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Islamic Museum of Australia - set to open 3 March 2014

Australia’s very first Islamic art museum, the ‘Islamic Museum of Australia’ is set toopen its doors to the public on Monday 3rd March, promising to take visitors on an interactive journey through the arts, history, culture and the stories of everyday Australian Muslims.
Encompassing five permanent galleries, a host of international and local visiting exhibitions, a café, educational resources for schools, a large multifunction centre and theatrette, the Islamic Museum of Australia aims to promote harmony and a mutual understanding between cultures and faiths.
The museum is a not-for-profit organisation with an objective to share the rich artistic heritage of Muslims in Australia, by shining a light on the many contributions Muslims have made to culture and civilization throughout time.
For example, it is a little known fact that Muslims first came into contact with Australia in the 1700s when the Macassan Fisherman traded peacefully with the Aboriginals many decades before European settlement.
Then later in the 19th century, Cameleers arrived in Australia to help build some of Australia’s largest infrastructure projects such as The Ghan, which was named in honour of the Afghani workers – among those from other Islamic countries - who toiled on the project.
Former Masterchef contestant and popular personality, Samira El Khafir will operate the museum’s café, called ‘Modern Middle Eastern.’ The café will serve Samira’s signature Australian-Middle Eastern fusion flavours for breakfast and lunch daily.
Located in Thornbury on the banks of the scenic Merri Creek trail in Melbourne’s north, visitors will be able to access the museum via either the main entrance or the Merri Creek trail, which also provides access to other cultural and environmental icons such as CERES and the Strettle Wetlands further north.
The building itself has been designed by Desypher architects, using a unique melding of Middle Eastern and Australian design techniques that reflect both the traditional principles of Islamic architecture and the surrounding environment.
The concept for Australia’s first Islamic Museum was formed in 2010 by former corporate banker, Moustafa Fahour.
“ We were discussing the importance of education and its role in providing a better understanding of Islam and showcasing the contributions of Muslims to Australia and abroad.
“ I soon met with a number of community organisations to discuss cross-cultural unity and education and it became clear that one of the most effective ways to enhance cultural diversity and social cohesion was through art.
“ I realised there was nowhere in Australia for people of all faiths to learn more about Islam in a non-intrusive way. There was nowhere for school children to learn about the rich artistic heritage of Muslims in a fun, interactive, yet educational way, so we decided to do something about it and the concept of the Islamic Museum of Australia was born,” he says.
At the time Moustafa was just 29 years of age and the Division Director, Key Clients, Australia and New Zealand at Macquarie Bank.
Now, some four years later, and with the support of all levels of Government, community, industry bodies and large-scale international and Australian corporations including Habtoor Leighton Group, Etihad, ANZ and more, Moustafa’s vision for the museum is now a reality.
“ One of the most effective ways to promote cultural diversity and social cohesion is via the universal language of the Arts and education, which is why we have chosen to launch the museum with such a strong influence on education and cultural awareness.
“ Victoria has been home to a Chinese, Jewish and Greek museum for many years so the time is right to reflect Australia’s rich cultural diversity with the addition of an Islamic Museum,” he said.
The museum will open its doors on Monday 3rd March at 10am. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 10am – 4pm and Friday from 10am – 9pm.
The museum is located at 15A Anderson Road, Thornbury Victoria 3071.
For more information on the Islamic Museum of Australia please visit About Us, Contact Us or call 1300 915 171
Download press release as PDF
Help be a part of the Construction of the First Islamic Museum in Australia. Every little bit counts to make IMA possible Support Us!

The Light has come - Candlemas - Nunc Dimittis - Arvo Part

Last Sunday, Christian faith communities int he Western Tradition (the Eastern tradition operates on the Julian calendar, the Western on the Gregorian calendar) celebrated Candlemas.

Below is the beautiful music of the great Arvo Part  celebrating the presentation of Jesus in The Temple. The words of the prayer 'Nunc dimittis' are uttered each day in The Prayer of The Church otherwise known as The Liturgy of The Hours.

Picture above is from here
Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace.
  You have fulfilled your promise.
My own eyes have seen your salvation,
  which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.
A light to bring the Gentiles from darkness;
  the glory of your people Israel.
The Song of Simeon
The Gospel of Luke : Chapter 2 Verses 29-32

Over at Interrupting the Silence, Father Mike Marsh has included in his post for this feast, 
Arvo Part's wonderful Nunc Dimittis performed by The Tallis Scholars.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Anti-mosque and anti-Islamic sentiments: can Islam be singled out like this?

This article has appeared in the Ballarat daily newspaper, The Courier, to-day.  Ballarat Interfaith Network was on to this early this morning and, during to-day, will work out a considered response.  This blog does not want - at this stage anyway - to give acknowledgment to this group and therefore will not name them here nor will a link be given to their website.

However, one thing this post will do is to look briefly at anti-mosque sentiment in Australia.
The Australia First Party is a well known extreme political party in Australia. More could be written about them, particularly their involvement in the Cronulla riots of 2005, but this site does not want to enter into such a discussion.  More could also said about an historic organisation with a similar name and similar prejudices. 

As for Islam in Australia, this Wikipedia site provides a diversity of information both historical and contemporary. 

The movement toward building a mosque in Ballarat has been a slow but progressive one.  Students from overseas came to the University of Ballarat where prayer facilities were established.  The small number of local residents were able to join in.  Because of the close proximity of Ballarat to Melbourne, it has also been possible for residents here to participate in mosques there.  Ballarat Muslims have held land for a while and are now moving towards the reality of a building by going through all the local government processes that everyone has to pursue.

Ballarat Interfaith Network has friendship with a number of Muslims in Ballarat.  We have also, courtesy of the Shepparton Interfaith Network, visited the mosque at Muroopna in Shepparton.

Shepparton is a diverse city and region - with four mosques.  Below is a video of that mosque and what happens there.  On our visit, we were warmly and hospitably received - and had the most beautiful lunch of Turkish food.  We were presented - without charge - with our choice of books relating to Islam.  The video below was taken from the website of the Shepparton Interfaith Network.

All religions - or, at least, a lot of religions - have those within who are 'extremist' or have other adverse characteristics.  If we were to ban or bar them from having facilities, it would be a bare landscape indeed.  Think of some of the adverse behaviours being brought to public view from within some Christian denominations and cultures at this time.

There are many beautiful and wondrous things within Islam.  They are worth exploring.  One particular Islamic contribution is being seriously explored these days by many outside Islam. It is Islamic finance and banking.  The Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have prohibitions against usury.  Judaism and Christianity have 'fallen by the wayside' in a manner of speaking on this topic and its adherents do get involved with financial transactions involving the charging of interest.  Islam is the one 'hold-out' on this and, in this era of ever-diverse financial products, there is currently widening interest  - even from main-stream banking organisations - in Islamic finance.