Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrated in Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand - New Zealand, like many countries, has become a melting pot of cultures and faiths. However, this multicultural environment historically has not always been harmonious, so the promotion of World Interfaith Harmony Week by the UN is a great opportunity to address this issue.

In Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city and most diverse in culture, it was very appropriate to celebrate this week.

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To mark this occasion, UPF held an event at the Peace Embassy on February 2. Leaders of diverse faith communities were invited to share readings from their holy scriptures on the theme of interfaith harmony and contribute musical offerings. Although the gathering was intimate, it was very powerful in that those who spoke were respected and influential leaders in their communities.

The program was opened by UPF-New Zealand Secretary General Geoffrey Fyers, who welcomed guests and gave the background of the UN Interfaith Harmony Week, followed by readings from each faith group. Sacred readings and messages of peace and harmony were shared by leaders of the Catholic, Muslim, and Sikh faiths. Highlights included comments by an Anglican minister, Rev. Rob McKay; he had just attended his church’s conference on hermeneutics (interpretation of scriptures) and described some disagreements on the interpretation and application of scripture. He said thfor different faiths to come together as in this event seeking to create better understanding and harmony was a great achievement.at

The President of the Auckland Interfaith Council, Mrs. Ruth Cleaver, shared insights about the interfaith work that she is involved in. She shared that through interfaith engagement, people of diverse faiths can undergo a process by which ‘tolerance’ develops into ‘understanding’ and eventually can lead to unity of heart and meaningful relationships.

Rev. Julius Gicole of the Family Federation for World Peace read from Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s autobiography on the topic of his work to bring faith groups together after 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Towers in New York City.

In the audience were other faith group leaders who were not able to share their scriptures and comments at the podium but took time to introduce themselves to everyone and express their appreciation.

Contributed by G. Fyers.

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