Getting to know Islam and other faiths

GETTING to know Islam and making friends with Muslims was the theme of a recent presentation at St Augustine’s Parish Yass.

Rev Dr Patrick McInerney, the co-ordinator of the Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations at the Columban Mission Institute in Sydney gave the presentation to an ecumenical group of 50 people.

It was the latest gathering in a series of six talks so far on the theme of ‘Learning of Other Faiths’.

Most of the talks have taken place in the original church of St Augustine, now known as the Lovat Chapel and which had its foundation stone laid by Archbishop John Bede Polding in 1838.

Dr McInerney’s ‘Getting to know Islam’ talk followed on from his earlier homily on the same topic.

He placed high importance on devotion to God and began with a prayer which had originated in the culture of the Sufis.

The Sufis were mystics who emerged in the Islamic world some nine to ten centuries after the birth of Christ and who sought to understand the presence of God in human lives through meditation and prayer.

In a recent Facebook post, Dr McInerney shared the words of President Stuart McMillan on Christian-Muslim relations at the last Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, saying: “As Christians our task in the presence of other faiths is to rediscover our own Christian discipleship, as a reconciling, prophetic, hospitable way of life, as a witness and sign of God’s loving purposes for all humanity.”

Yass Pastoral council member Dr Bryan Coleborne, who has particular responsibility in the parish for Ecumenism, said the series was arranged by the parish in conjunction with the Yass Ministers, whose clergy comprise the leaders of six Christian congregations in the Yass Valley Shire.

“These talks, mostly on Sunday afternoons on themes of faith, belief and religious practice, have been well attended by people from these congregations and beyond,” he said.
“They have been open to ideas on spirituality and the importance of building harmony in society through understanding.”

Learning of Other Faiths series hosted by St Augustine’s Parish Yass

Talk 1 – Rabbi Alon Meltzer, of the ACT Jewish Community, gave an introduction to Jewish faith.

Talk 2 – The late Eric Bell, OAM, Ngunnawal elder and Yass community leader, in association with Peter Bindon, formerly of the West Australian Museum, ethno-botanist and authority on indigenous culture, addressed themes of body and soul from an Aboriginal view.

Talk 3 – The Venerable Karen Kime, a Birripi woman, the first Aboriginal woman to become a priest in NSW in the Anglican Church in Australia, and Indigenous Academic Fellow at Charles Sturt University, reflected on ideas of country and spirituality in South Eastern Australia from an indigenous perspective.

Talk 4: Karan Gabriel – Founder of Yass Rural Australians for Refugees, formerly Managing Editor of The Yass Tribune and currently public sector worker and student of law, spoke on the work of human rights advocacy through Yass Rural Australians for Refugees.

Talk 5: Pastors Ruth and Dr Gary Jones – Medical Officer at the Yass Hospital and Pastors at the Eagles Nest Church in Yass, conduct an annual medical mission in West Kenya. They introduced the theme of building faith there amongst people living with established religiousness and the reality of oppression.