Tasmania, February 2016

Tasmania LogoThe event intended for March, Religions for Peace (Tas) participation in the official opening of the UTAS Multifaith Centre and the planting of a Peace Pole nearby, has been postponed till later in the year, so there won’t be an event for March.

Report on World Interfaith Harmony Week

On Thursday 11 February 2016, Religions for Peace Tas organised an event to celebrate UN World Interfaith Harmony Week at Parliament House. The event was very kindly hosted by Hon Rob Valentine MLC and MC’d by Madam Speaker Hon Elise Archer MP and entitled ‘Reflections on Peacebuilding’.

We would like to thank our elected representatives for their very significant support in allowing this colloquium to occur and the six MPs who showed their interest by their attendance.

Because we understand the value that faith communities bring to social cohesion in Australia, this gathering was an opportunity to celebrate the work towards peacebuilding that is accomplished in the Australian community by faith groups on a daily basis. Faith representatives shared their achievements, challenges and hopes for peacebuilding in our community.

On the panel were Prof Doug Ezzy, Head of Sociology at UTAS, Daniel Albert, President of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation, Very Rev Dean of Hobart, Richard Humphrey from St David’s Anglican Cathedral, Roger McLennan, Hobart Buddhist Meditation Centre, Usman Rana, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia and Narindar Gill, President Guru Nanak Society of Tasmania.

Approximately sixty faith leaders and representatives attended, including

Mr David Reeve, Presbytery Chair, Uniting Church, Julian Robinson, Clerk of the Australian Regional Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker Community), Rosemary Epps, Clerk of the Tasmania Regional Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Uppi Singh, Hindu Society of Tasmania,

Kanwar Mubashar Ahmad, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia, Frederik Mul, the EO of Tasmanian Council of Churches, Marta Hodul Lenton, CEO of Tasmanians for Recognition, Bill Lawson AM, Anna Reynolds, CEO of MCOT.

Some programs that were mentioned from among the attendees were the Emergencies Ministry program run by TCC, Alternatives to Violence Program run by the Religious Society of Friends, the Journey for Recognition of Tasmanians for Recognition, Spiritual Care Australia programs, the Buddhist Chaplaincies at UTAS and RHH and many others.

We would like to thank sincerely everyone who supported the gathering, leading to its very pleasing success. It has been suggested that the event might become an annual event.

World Interfaith Harmony Week Lecture – Victoria

For a fascinating talk, see an article with summary selections from Prof. Peter Horsfield’s World Interfaith Harmony Week lecture from University of Melbourne. The page is here: https://religionsforpeaceaustralia.org.au/2016/02/23/human-existence-religions-and-the-digital-world/

It is an excellent, thought-provoking lecture.

Vegetarian Program

There will be a Vegetarian Cooking class on Saturday 27th February, 1.30pm to 4.30pm at the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Centre, 51 Risdon Rd, New Town. Bookings for this program are required (6278 3788 or hobart@au.brahmakumaris.org) as the class size is limited to enable everyone to view the food preparation process.

Learn about the nutritional and ethical considerations of a vegetarian diet; experience a yogi way of cooking; browse or purchase available literature and cookbooks.

This program is presented as a Community Service. There are no fees, but contributions are welcome to help cover costs.

Spiritual Care Australia – Tasmania

SCA Professional Development Opportunity for the South of Tasmania at Bellerive on 3 March

Everyone is most welcome to attend this first PD event being run by Spiritual Care Australia – Tasmania Branch, for 2016 in the south of the state.

It is a re-run of a workshop that we had at the 2015 SCA Conference in Hobart.

Title: Opening to others through grounding sense of self

Author / Presenter: Mahni Dugan

Role: Counsellor; Co-director of Neuroads Pty Ltd, a company presenting personal and professional development programs internationally.

ABSTRACT: We are able to open to others to the extent that we open to ourselves; to accept others, first we must accept ourselves. Such wisdom, present in many spiritual disciplines, is reflected in the daily experience of people working with people. Evidently, if we judge something in ourselves as unacceptable and therefore needing to be hidden, we cannot fully see or hear or have compassion for others. In this workshop, I aim to challenge common notions that there is something fundamentally wrong with being human, and suggest a different narrative. Fears of difference close people off from each other, and fears of being perceived as different separate people from themselves. Such dissociation perpetuates personal and social disharmony and distress. In contrast, I present a model and understanding of being human that can enable people to open more fully to themselves and others, and to be more deeply grounded in self, place, and spirit. As well as interactive discussion, the workshop includes an exercise providing opportunity for participants to change old limiting decisions affecting identity and agency. I draw on praxis of teaching people, since 1983, how to be open, grounded, and to experience connectedness as carers, teachers, counsellors, and in personal relationships. Plan for participation: Interactive discussion and a meditative, visualisation exercise.

Soul Food

Soul Food Session at the Baha’i Centre

The Soul Food Team will host a special program on Sunday 6th March 3pm at the Baha’i Centre of Learning for Tasmania, 1 Tasman Highway Hobart (behind the ABC building) to honour International Woman’s Day. The theme for this program will be “Two Wings of a Dove”.

The music for this program will be the very talented Tuncay Yildiz from Turkey and Gergana Manoilova from Bulgaria. Both have Bachelors Degrees in Music Pedagogy and will be hosting their own concert at the Baha’i Centre later in the month.

Living from this Precious Moment

Buddhist Contemplative Care Tasmania’s yearly Gathering has been set for March Tuesday 8th – Sunday 13th 2016 at the beautiful Dorje-Ling Buddhist Retreat Centre, Lorinna, Tasmania (ring for directions if not known)

COST: $200 covers accommodation, G/F vegetarian lunches and nibbles. Please bring your own breakfast requirements. Dinner will consist of soup and bread provided by the committee and the valley bread makers. Bring personals and bedding.

(If cost is prohibitive please contact Kate 0432 630 796 for a chat. This gathering is for all regardless of financial restrictions.)

Arrival on site by 5 pm Tues 8th with a bowl of soup and a solid catch-up on offer.

The “loose” program will begin after breakfast Wednesday morning 9.00am . Silence from rising to lunchtime.

The Program will be facilitated by Kate and Mukula and will include:

Spaciousness interspersed with

  • Meditation sits, individual and group, gompa and nature
  • Creative Response to activities
  • Sharing
  • Laughter
  • Resting and Relaxation
  • Walking the Trails

Please bring a journal and pen.

RSVP: Mukula on 0481 465 195 or mukulagrace@gmail.com

St David’s Cathedral:

There will be a special event at 11am on Saturday 19 March at St David’s Cathedral – the Ordination and Installation of the Bishop-elect. See http://www.primates2016.org/ for more infomation.

You may have heard the media coverage about cathedrals offering sanctuary to refugees. This was organised by the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce in response to the High Court’s decision which will mean that 267 people including 37 babies face removal to Nauru after being given 72 hours notice.

The Dean of Brisbane, Peter Catt, the chair of ACRT (Australian Christian Refugee Taskforce) said

“This is a hugely significant action for any Australian church to take. Historically churches have only ever afforded sanctuary to those seeking refuge from brutal and oppressive forces. Many of these people have been brought to Australia for urgent medical treatment after suffering harm in detention. They now face further trauma at the hands of the Australian Government. This fundamentally goes against our faith, so our church community is compelled to act… It is an extraordinary step. It is a step that will attract the attention of church communities around the world. The ancient principle of sanctuary goes back to the Old Testament. Where a government is causing grievous harm, churches can provide sanctuary. While it is not unlawful for the Government to arrest these people in our church, it would certainly be an appalling spectacle.”

The Dean of Hobart has said “at one level it is easy to support this call for sanctuary, because it feels morally right and as far as we know there are no families in Tasmania directly impacted by this decision. However, there are congregation members of parishes who are continuing to go through the immigration process and they may need such protection. This may then become more than a gesture and there may be legal consequences, but this is part of the church’s prophetic role: to call on the State to act with justice and mercy; to care for the victims of the State; and, if necessary, in a Christ honouring way passively resist the State. Please pray.”

Launceston News

Launceston Interfaith Spiritual Community’s monthly gatherings have recommenced. We celebrate and honor diverse sacred expression and our common humanity, learn through and from each other, find friendship, spiritual growth and nourishment in an openhearted, inclusive setting that fosters the promotion of peace and harmony on earth. Reflective sharing, discussion, meditation, sacred music, song, inclusive prayer and a range of guest speakers facilitates this process. All welcome – strictly no proselytizing.

When: the third Monday of each month 1.00 – 2.30 pm. Where: Ida Birchall Room, Pilgrims, 36-38 Paterson St. Please note, doors open at 12.30 for silent, World Peace meditation. For all inquiries: 0431 909 172


Sancta Sophia Meditation Community Warburton, Vic, Australia. Tel 03 5966 2120

BEING PRESENT TO THE PRESENCE. In all the great Traditions the ultimate Goal is to be present to the Presence. What if each of us is so full of Presence that we are at all times shining out like stars, and all that we have to do is to get out of our own way so that we can live within the Presence that we already are? Our Facilitator is Cath Connelly, spiritual director, retreat director and professional Celtic harper. The retreat will include harp music, meditation, ritual, body awareness, input sessions and time for reflection.

Date: August 7, 8, 9.

Cost: Live in $175.00. Live out $135.00.( Saturday only $75.00. Meals provided.)


We offer you an environment to support you in your Spiritual Journey through Meditation, Ritual, Liturgy and sharing the Word of God.

You can join the Community for a quiet day sharing in the community program or an extended stay for a private or directed retreat.

A Hermitage is available for a day or a longer stay. Massage and Spiritual Healing are available on request.

Members of the Community offer Spiritual Counselling and teaching in Meditation techniques from East and West.

Sancta Sophia Community is Directed by Kathleen Murphy, O.P. and Ken Petersen, O.Carm.


From the Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions:

It was my privilege, on behalf of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, to attend the January 25-27 Marrakech Conference on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Lands, conducted under the high patronage of His Majesty, King Mohammed VI, of Morocco. Three prominent leaders had worked on this initiative since 2012—Shiekh Abdallah Bin Bayyah of Abu Dhabi, President for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies; Dr. Ahmed Toufiq of Rabat, Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs for the Kingdom of Morocco; and Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi of Washington, D.C., Director for The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. Through the planning of these visionaries, more than 300 cabinet ministers, imams, scholars and intellectuals, peace activists, and interfaith leaders from 120 Muslim territories were brought together to reaffirm the principles of the 1400-year old Charter of Medina and to discuss its implications for our contemporary world. Joining them were approximately 50 non-Muslim leaders who served as observer-participants in the conference. The Marrakech Declaration—its powerful concepts shaped and debated during many hours of supportive speeches, breakout sessions, and multiple drafts, and its final wording ratified by the impressive range of Muslim signatories—is both historic and inspiring.

On the one hand, the Declaration is historic. It is a groundbreaking effort to clarify and unify the response of global Muslims to the world’s bitter experiences of war and terrorism, hatred and violence, desecration of sacred spaces, ethnic cleansings, forced migrations, and other atrocities perpetrated by “criminal groups” and “ignorant fools” whose vile actions “have nothing to do with religion.” The Declaration draws upon the principles of the Charter of Medina, drafted by the Prophet Mohammed in CE 622 as a means of bringing harmony between his followers and the non-Muslims of Medina, and reflects as well the values of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It challenges Muslims around the world to develop laws that guarantee the equal citizenship and just treatment of religious minorities in Muslim nations. Furthermore, the Declaration calls for all sects and denominations of Islam “to confront all forms of religious bigotry, vilification, and denigration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promotes hatred and bigotry.” The Declaration is historic!

On the other hand, the Declaration is inspiring. Once again—just as was the case in the 2007 Muslim document, “A Common Word between Us and You”—leaders of Islam have drafted a statement affirming their commitment to neighborliness in a world too often marked by religious boundaries and the clash of civilizations. By ratifying this call to harmony and the just treatment of religious minorities, these Muslim leaders have given us who are not Muslims an example that we also must follow. I thus find inspiration in this Declaration for thinking seriously about the rights of non-Christians in Christian-majority nations, like the United States. For example, making the appropriate categorical substitutions, this document can “urge [Christian] educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addresses honestly and effectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies.” Furthermore, the Declaration can “call upon politicians and decision makers to take the political and legal steps necessary to establish a constitutional contractual relationship among its citizens, and to support all formulations and initiatives that aim to fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the [Christian] world.” Not only should we be concerned about the human rights of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority nations, but we must be attentive to the human rights of Muslims in non-Muslim-majority nations. Islamophobia must diminish and neighborliness in the human family must increase. Toward that end, this Declaration is inspiring!

As the Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, may I reiterate my personal commitment to interreligious harmony and cooperation, and on behalf of my fellow trustees and peoples of all faiths who are committed to the interfaith movement, may I say that we will not cease in our efforts to bring about the kind of peaceful, mutually beneficial society around the world that is envisioned in this historic and inspiring Marrakech Declaration.


From Tablet:

Love the Stranger: How Canadian Synagogues started sponsoring Syrian refugees:

It won’t end until we talk:

Drawn together by grief, Israelis and Palestinians who have lost family members in the conflict strive for open dialogue rather than revenge. Find this inspiring article here:

From UCA Relations with Other Faiths

Book Review: Blessed and called to be a Blessing: Muslim-Christian Couples sharing a life together

From Zenit:

INTERVIEW: Chief Rabbi of Rome: ‘The Pope’s Visit to Synagogue Contrasts With Those Who Use Religion to Destroy’

Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni Explains How the Holy Father’s Visit This Sunday Is Awaited, Looking to the Past, Remembers Previous Pontiffs, and to the Future, Regarding the Challenges that Jews and Christians Can, Must Address Together
The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, uses sober and specific words to express his expectations for Pope Francis’ visit to the Major Temple on January 17. He is the third Pontiff after John Paul II in 1986 and Benedict XVI in 2010 or, better said, the fourth, “recalling that the first Pope to enter a Synagogue was Saint Peter,” he stressed.

In this interview with ZENIT in Rome, the rabbi stressed that the memory of the visits of the previous Popes will be the connecting theme of Pope Francis’ visit this Sunday, which will take on new meaning in a historical and geopolitical context marked by religious violence and fanaticism.

“Hence, it will be a sign against those who today use religion to destroy the world,” said the Rabbi, pointing out some challenges in which Jews and Christians can speak with “once voice, “ – in the first place, about life and human dignity.




Huts at the Pontville Detention Centre outside Hobart

In peace,
Convenor RfP Tasmania Branch
6272 6521

Religions for Peace Tasmania

Religions for Peace Tasmania