World Interfaith Harmony Week Logo

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event in the first week of February each year. For the 2013 celebration in Parliament House, Melbourne, Religions for Peace Australia was one of the sponsors.

A Morning Tea was hosted by the Interfaith Centre of Melbourne on Friday February 1st in Queens Hall, Parliament House Melbourne for religious, spiritual and community leaders to celebrate the 2013 World Interfaith Harmony Week. The Chair, Religions for Peace Australia, Prof. Des Cahill of RMIT University, and Dr. Sue Ennis, Secretary, represented Religions for Peace at this celebration.

About World Interfaith Harmony Week

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed by HM KIng Abdullah II of Jordan before the United Nations General Assembly on September 23rd 2010.

On October 20, 2010, the Resolution was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and the first week of February was proclaimed as the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.

The Resolution also "encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world's churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, based on love of God and love of one's neighbour or on love of the good and love of one's neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions."

The sponsoring partners this year were the Faith Communities Council of Victoria, the Islamic Council of Victoria, Religions for Peace Australia, the Shepparton Interfaith Network and the Australian Multicultural Foundation. Invited speakers were Mr Andrew Elsbury MLC, representing the Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Bishop John Bayton AM, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, and Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim, Abbess of The Seon (Zen) Centre, Kinglake, Victoria.

Guest Speakers and presenters at World Interfaith Harmony Week, Melbourne, 2013

Rev Helen Summers (Interfaith Centre of Melbourne), Mr Andrew Elsbury MLC, representing the Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Ms Nur Shkembi (Islamic Centre of Victoria), Bishop John Bayton AM, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, and Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim, Abbess of The Seon (Zen) Centre.

Principal Guest Speakers were Bishop John Bayton, who spoke on Evolution. You may download Bishop Bayton's talk here. Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim, Abbess of The Seon (Zen) Centre in Kinglake, Victoria, spoke about Love of the Good, Love of Neighbour in light of the experience of disaster in Australia. Venerable Chi Kwang was surrounded by a ring of fire during the Black Saturday Bushfires. You may read Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim's talk here.

The DVD "Harmony" was launched, illustrating the Confucian concept of "Harmony", a beautiful and dynamic interaction between different elements within a whole, as explained to the General Assembly by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, Personal Envoy and Special Advisor to the King of Jordan, on October 20th 2010.

Weaving in images of people, words, places and sacred artworks, the DVD exemplifies the common values that bind us together as community, as well as respecting the differences. The images exemplify Love of God and Love of the Neighbour or Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour.

Helen Summers, Director of The Interfaith Centre of Melbourne and Nur Shkembi, Arts Officer for the Islamic Council of Victoria, curated the images of people, places and sacred artworks which illustrate 'harmony' as defined in the Confucian concept of beautiful and dynamic interaction between different elements within a whole.

Participants at the World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebration, Melbourne, 2013

Participants at the World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebration, Melbourne, 2013

Religions for Peace Australia strives to create multireligious partnerships to confront our nation and our world’s most dire issues: promoting the right to freedom of religion and belief, ending poverty and protecting the Earth. Religious communities are the largest and best organized civil institutions in the world, claiming the allegiance of billions across cultural, racial, language, class and cast divides. As grassroots organizations, they have country-based and culturally-based infrastructure and resources to mobilize people as necessary and to deploy assistance and support to where it is most needed.

The mission of Religions for Peace Australia is to work for interreligious peace and harmony and for social cohesion in Australia as well as upholding the universal values of authentic religion and spirituality. Its aims are:

  • (a) to work with faith traditions and religious organizations for interreligious understanding and harmony in Australia, including the right to freedom of belief, and across the world
  • (b) to highlight the salience of religion in multifaith Australia, highlighting its resources and the importance of religion and spirituality in national life
  • (c) to work with religious and interfaith organizations as well as with government and civil agencies in achieving social cohesion in Australia
  • (d) to create social wealth for the Australian nation, ensuring that the role of religious bodies is positively appreciated
  • (e) to sponsor activities and events, including research and evaluative studies, into the multicultural and interfaith perspective in society
  • (f) to work with educational bodies to educate the different levels and sectors of society about religion itself and the many faith traditions
  • (g) to support national and local interfaith organizations in Australia in their work in local government areas
  • (h) to organise meetings of religious leaders at national and local levels and with political and civic leaders
  • (i) to encourage interfaith activity and the formation of interfaith organizations among particular groups, including the young

Religions for Peace Australia has sponsored World Interfaith Harmony Week since inception, and encourages its branches and affiliations in all states and the Australian Capital Territory to conduct World Interfaith Harmony Week events such as interfaith breakfasts, interfaith celebrations, talks, speeches and presentations to schools and academia.

Harmony Video: Celebrating 2013 World Interfaith Harmony Week

Harmony from Interfaith Centre of Melbourne on Vimeo.

All contributed individual works of art in this video, by individual artists, remains the property of the artist, and each artist retains copyright of his or her work.

  • Asher Bilu: Cosmotif Series 1
  • John Bayton: The Love of God is in the Dance of Joy
  • John Bayton: Greater love has no man than this, to lay down one's life for one's friend.
  • John Bayton: Love is poured out in Creation
  • John Bayton: My love reaches to the heavens
  • Peter Gould: Ishk
  • Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori: Dibirdibi Country 2011
    (Synthetic polymer paint on linen, 151 x 168 cm
    Image courtesy of the Artist, Mornington Island Art, QLD and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne)
  • Marianne Baillieu: Prana Portrait III 1998
    Mixed Media on Plywood, 240 x 120 cm, Collection of the Artist
  • Philip George: Paradise Suite
  • Ray Messner Photography, www.raymessner.com
    Flickr Account, Parliament of the World's Religions Melbourne 2009
  • Ahmad Sabra Photography: www.lahza.com.au
  • Tom Fantl: : Photograph of Marianne Baillieu

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