UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE Southeast Asia & the Pacific Regional E-Newsletter


Healing Love, Healing Land

The Centre Of Melbourne Multi-faith and Others Network (COMMON) celebrated the UN International Day of Peace 2007 with unity in diversity and interfaith understanding as they organized the Multifaith Week from September 21st– 27th, 2007 in Melbourne.

Launching the week-long event on the 21st September, Peace Day, was the Multifaith Healing Conference dubbed: HEALING LOVE, HEALING LAND. The day opened with a calming and welcoming traditional Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony. The Procession of 40 people circled a fire and “received the smoke” whilst the enchanting sounds of the didgeridoo, played by Uncle Reg Blow transcended the everyday setting.

The tree planting ceremony marked the birth of a new connection with the Maya Aboriginal Healing Center, as Erryln Nundle (Aboriginal center coordinator) blessed the tree saying, “our spirit and our strength will be instilled in the tree when it grows and your strengths and your spirits will grow in it too.” A sense of community evolved as we continued with prayers from each of the faiths.

The panel of speakers from different faiths shared their personal wisdom and how this helped them move towards a culture of peace and a healthy relationship with others, and the land.

Eva Wakim (Jewish panel member) expressed how her cultural backgournd made her “feel closer to people and not separate” and blew into the ‘Shofar’ explaining the significance of the shape. The Muslim speaker mentioned how balance and knowing that everyone is part of God is at the heart of the Qur’an, that there is a purpose to this life. Each speaker spoke with great eloquence and with wisdom beyond “mind” knowledge.

Christian speaker, Chris James had everyone in shock and hysterics as he juggled with a knife and apples, symbolizing his journey through evangelism and self righteousness… to an understanding of unity of the human race and presenting “love” to all who m he meets.

Questions followed and a deep discussion with the audience and panel looked at how we can begin to connect though all the difficulties of the modern era – concluding that we must trust the guidance of the divine, listen and look out for the signs.

The afternoon was spent in workshop small groups discussing how we can create deep connections with one another, and those who are in need around us. The day ended with Dya Singh performing some spiritually uplifting music on the harmonium and tabla.

URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East

(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)

As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.

As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.

We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:

* To stop the violence immediately.

* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.

* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.

We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.

And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.

URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.

We, the members of the Global Youth Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, wish to express our concern at the current situation in Gaza. Conflict creates hardship and fear for people on both sides and takes its toll on civilians, both young and old, and the livelihood of communities and economies.

As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.

We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.

They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.

We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.