Faiths gather to celebrate diversity

Attendees at the National Interfaith Forum (from left) Br Christopher John  (Australia, Christian), Bev Watson (Amberley, Baha'i), Nazarina Jamil (Hamilton, Muslim), Todd Nachowitz (Hamilton, Jewish), Ruth Groffman (Dunedin, Jewish), David Azimullah (Auckland, Muslim), Venerable Zhiming (Auckland, Buddhist), James Low (Christchurch, Buddhist), Sufen Tsai (Auckland, Buddhist) and Steve Lintao Yu (Auckland, Buddhist). Photo by Linda Robertson.
Attendees at the National Interfaith Forum (from left) Br Christopher John (Australia, Christian), Bev Watson (Amberley, Baha'i), Nazarina Jamil (Hamilton, Muslim), Todd Nachowitz (Hamilton, Jewish), Ruth Groffman (Dunedin, Jewish), David Azimullah (Auckland, Muslim), Venerable Zhiming (Auckland, Buddhist), James Low (Christchurch, Buddhist), Sufen Tsai (Auckland, Buddhist) and Steve Lintao Yu (Auckland, Buddhist). Photo by Linda Robertson.

Unity in diversity was the title, and the reality, as Jewish, Muslim, and Christian representatives gathered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Dunedin yesterday, for the National Interfaith Forum.

The event at the St Clair church attracted 110 delegates from around New Zealand.

Dunedin deputy mayor Chris Staynes said at the opening the city had a history of religious diversity. Muslims and Buddhists were among early settlers, alongside Presbyterians and other Christian denominations.

There had been times of conflict, but never enough to harm the fabric of the city, he said.

Dunedin Interfaith Council secretary Suzanne Gillies said guest speakers at the forum included the superintendent minister of the Cathedral of World Methodism in London, the Rev Lord Leslie Griffiths, and New Zealand Human Rights Commission representative Rohan Jaduram.

The three-day event would include workshops and panels on subjects including the harmony of science and religion, and peace-building grounded in faith.

The forum is hosted by the Interfaith Council, a member of a national group set up to encourage New Zealanders to be more inclusive and accepting of religious diversity.

The forums are held every second year.

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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