Interfaith Peacebuilding


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Interfaith Programs

Three Faith Leaders Address Auckland Interfaith Program

Auckland, New Zealand - June 10, 2014 was not an ideal day for a gathering, because the weather was rough with strong winds and cold rains as if a storm was coming. However, the bad weather could not dampen the spirit of the interfaith community. The organizers must have been worrying about how many would attend, however they did not need to worry because about 70 people gathered.

The emcee of the event was Mrs. Ruth Cleaver, president of the Auckland Inter-faith Council. She welcomed everyone with appreciation, saying that the people gathered at the event were really champions of interfaith.

The Auckland Inter-faith Council is an incorporated voluntary non-profit association that works towards representing the diversity of religious traditions, fostering mutual appreciation and good relations, and promoting the elimination of religious prejudice. The council has been developing this work for the last ten years, and about 15 faith communities in Auckland work together in cooperation with other cities’ inter-faith councils.

The evening event was hosted by the Kadampa Buddhist Temple in Papatoetoe, southeast of the greater Auckland area where diverse religious communities live together. The program started with prayer offered by a local Catholic priest, followed by greetings from Mr. Fa'anānā Efeso Collins, chairman of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board. The three main speakers were from Kadampa Buddhist Centre, the Baha’i community and Auckland Sikh Society, and they each delivered an introductory talk about their respective faiths.

The first speaker was Mr. David Chen, director of the Kadampa Buddhist Centre, who immigrated from Taiwan. One of main hosts for the event, he is an architect who designed the temple and contributes to their faith community to a great extent. The explanation of the five statues of Buddha was interesting, especially for people from other faith communities who never thought that they were expressions of virtues that they were familiar with.  

The second speaker was Mrs. Jamaliyeh Drake, a member of the Papatoetoe Baha’i community, who immigrated from Iran. Her personal story about her father who was executed because of their faith at the time of the Iranian revolution struck the audience and they were deeply moved.

The third speaker was Mr. Raj Bedi, secretary of the Auckland Sikh Society, Papatoetoe, who had immigrated from India. The audience came to realize the importance of mutual understanding and good relations from the context of his story about India.

A great contribution to the program was a performance of traditional Indian music offered by Sikh members of a music school. A great sense of harmony, unity and being one family of inter-faith had been spread during the event.

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