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1. The Purpose of an Interfaith Network:

a. to promote peace and harmony in our local communities;

b. to build relationships of friendship and trust among members of the various faith groups in the area;

c. to find ways of improving cross-cultural understanding, respect and tolerance by providing community and school education programmes

d. to identify any social issues - racism, discrimination in housing, employment, access to education or health services and to encourage interfaith grassroots initiatives in addressing issues

e. to encourage local social support networks, service providers and university research teams to assist in identifying such problems in the community

f. to encourage interfaith and civic dialogue at leadership levels both among religious groups, community organisations and at local, state and federal government level.

g. to undertake any other activities which may foster stronger links and good community relationships in this area.

2. Strategies:

a. Use occasions such as significant religious festivals to invite members of other religious faiths to join in the celebrations by sharing a meal, visiting places of worship, offering greetings to the community celebrating a festival of significance

b. Join together during moments of public mourning or celebration to offer prayer and support to the community

c. Work together to ensure that religion has a place in the public life of the community.

d. Invite guest speakers to a number of Interfaith 'breakfasts' or 'dinners' during the year, e.g., Ramadan, Harmony Day, Reconciliation Week, and other national and international Interfaith festivals, e.g. Vesak (Vaisakhi).

e. Identify social issues which may be a cause of tension and friction between communities in this area; support and encourage grassroots Interfaith Initiatives in addressing these issues.

Guidelines for Interfaith Activities

Multi-faith describes a gathering of people of different faiths, each being responsible for expressing something of their faith tradition or experience. Multi-faith gatherings assume respect for the faith expression and beliefs of each tradition and should never be entered into in order to proselytize, argue, debate or confront. They should rather be opportunities to acknowledge our common humanity and diverse spirituality. Interfaith meetings provide the opportunity for discussion and exploration of each others' faith traditions. Respectful dialogue does not compromise individual faith.

There are three kinds of multi-faith gatherings:

1. Civic ceremonies:

Civic leaders may wish to organize a religious gathering to bring together all members of their community - to reflect its multicultural and multifaith nature and to promote harmony and well-being of that community. These occasions demonstrate our understanding of the place faith plays in the lives of many as the motivation of their commitment to the local community, to respect, to understanding and tolerance. If there is to be a religious gathering, religious leaders should ask to be responsible for organizing the program together with the civic leaders. The elements of this gathering should emphasize the local situation and needs of our community, our common humanity, our tolerance and respect for our neighbour who may be of a different faith tradition.

2. Memorial ceremonies:

Such ceremonies are often needed when events occur which the community needs to respond to in faith. Examples such as bushfires, earthquakes and other tragedies, droughts or a national or international event. The leaders of various faith communities should jointly be responsible for organising these events.

3. Interfaith Gatherings:

When we come together as people of faith or spiritual traditions, we are all one in our concern for humanity, but at the same time each religion has its own distinctive set of beliefs. Expressions of those beliefs will determine how we choose to participate and what we will contribute to the gathering. No one faith tradition should dominate the gatherings;

4. Forums:

Interfaith Forums on Culture, Migration, Health, well-being (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual), and community relations.

Photo Credit: University of the Third Age, Shepparton

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