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

Updates from COMMON CC - Australia

Sharing our Space: Multi-faith Healing Conference held by COMMON CC

Held: 21st September 2008: 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Venue: Aboriginal Advancement League, 2 Watt Street, Thornbury, Victoria

VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA-- In celebration of the UN International Day of Peace 2008 Center for Melbourne Multifaith and Others Network (COMMON) CC successfully organized the annual MULTI-FAITH WEEK that kicked off with a Multi-faith Healing Conference entitled: SHARING OUR SPACE—held on its first day on September 21, 2008.

Sharing Our Space was a free event held at the Aboriginal Advancement League in Thornbury, Victoria. It aimed to demonstrate the support of the interfaith community for the Commonwealth Government’s apology to the members of the Stolen Generation and to build on the foundation laid down by Australian Prime Minister Hon. Kevin Rudd.

Organized in cooperation with the Victorian Multicultural Commission and AALI, the multi-faith healing conference was a process of recognition, reconciliation and learning between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. The conference featured interfaith prayers and solidarity messages from leaders and representatives from different religions and spiritual traditions (Aboriginal, Native American, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Sikh, Hindu, Baha’i, and Buddhist). Together the community recognized what they all have in common and shared the sacred space with each other.

The Multi-faith Week 2008, which ran from the 21st to the 27 of September, featured open house invitations to a particular place of worship of a different faith for each day of the week. Among the activities and faith communities that opened their doors to the public were: Langar (communal kitchen) and congregation at the Sikh Gurudwara Sahib in Blackburn; Buddhist meditation at the Fo Guang Art Gallery in Melbourne; Catholic mass and prayer service at the St. Francis Church in Melbourne; Soul-food meditation and devotional gathering at a Baha’I house in Hawthorn; Islamic weekly prayer at the City Mosque in West Melbourne; Hindu Pooja at the Murugan Temple in North Sunshine; Jewish Shabbat at the Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne; and an Aboriginal culture, spirituality and art tour at the Koori Heritage Trust Cultural Center in Melbourne.

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.