Event Schedule: Sunday, December 6th

Programming for Sunday, 6th December included:


War and Peace in Al-Islam: the Prophet's Struggle


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Dr Tariq Ramadan, Dr William F. Vendley, Rabbi Michael Melchior

The concerted struggle for peace consumed the life of Prophet Muhammad. However, there is the perception that war was a dominant factor during the formative years of Islam and that Muslims are consequently predisposed to violence and war. During this session, internationally respected Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan discussed the Prophet's life in regards to war and peace, how misinformation about these issues affects current prospects for peace, and what lessons about peace can be gleaned from the Prophet's example as we move forward. This session also included an interfaith panel of respondents who are leaders in peace building among the faith traditions. This program was one of six sessions in the Islam 101 Series designed to highlight critically important issues regarding Islamic beliefs, practice, and history that are all too commonly misunderstood.


The February 2009 Bushfires in Victoria: Religious Response in the Role of Recovery and Renewal


Reverend Chi Kwang Sunim - Korean Zen Buddhist Nun and Kinglake resident
Christine Nixon - Chair of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority
Brother Trevor Parton - Christian Brothers Centre for Ecology and Spirituality in Glenburn
Paster Russel Wright- Global Care Kinglake

The Victorian bush fires in February 2009 were among the most devastating natural disasters in Australia. Reverend Chi Kwang Sunim, a Buddhist Nun and survivor of the Kinglake fires, discussed with Christine Nixon and religious leaders, about their roles in working with emergency relief, suffering of loss and grief and rebuilding community. The presenters also shared stories of outstanding acts of kindness, in accommodating the personal, social and environmental needs, of the Kinglake Ranges in recovery and renewal.



Taking our Place in the Interreligious Movement: Women in Society, Peacemaking, and Interfaith Dialogue


Pushpa Wood, Wellington Interfaith Council & Believing Women for a Culture of Peace; Trish Madigan, Women’s Interfaith Network (WIN); Shehara Viswanathan, Young Women's Interfaith Network; Narcis Jafari, Young Women's Interfaith Network; Dr. Sussy Nyakan Gumo, Maseno University, Department of Religion; Natalie Lindner, Believing Women for a Culture of Peace

At the 2009 Parliament, this international panel called for the full engagement of women in local interfaith and institutional work. Within a historical context of political, social, economic and spiritual marginalization, the speakers described experiences and models that support full participation of women in peacemaking, in leadership, and in the interfaith movement.



The Sacred Journey


Dr Marjorie Rose Tidman, Yerrinbool Baha'i, Western Australia; Dr John Davidson, University of Tasmania

According to a Baha’i tradition, the sacred journey of the soul in search of the Beloved passes through Seven Valleys: love, knowledge, unity, contentment, wonderment, true poverty, and absolute nothingness. This workshop explored each of these Seven Valleys through various forms of art. It concluded with a segment on the Baha’i center of learning in Tasmania, its green design, and its educational work.



Families: Family and Kinship in Contemporary Indigenous Communities


Margaret Lokawua (Karimjong:Uganda), Anna Pinto (Meitei:India), Omie Baldwin (Dine’:USA)

The inclusion of extended family in all aspects of life – including child rearing – is a traditional strength of many indigenous cultures. In some cases, government policies have intervened to place children outside the family circle, robbing them of their cultural heritage, language, and values. This panel presented examples of the impact of such policies on indigenous families.



Spirituality and Healing in Melbourne’s North


Pastor Esme Atkinson, Barak Christian Ministries; Uncle Reg Blow, The Maya Living Free Association; Elizabeth Pike, writer of 'River Dreaming'

This panel highlighted the ways that Aboriginal and Indigenous communities and individuals have adjusted to the challenges of living within the larger social and cultural context: Aboriginal Pastor Esme Atkinson provided insight about Barak Christian Ministries the only Indigenous (Pentecostal) Church in Melbourne, highlighting its uniqueness in Melbourne’s diverse faith communities. Reg Blow, CEO of the The Maya Living Free Association, spoke about the counselling, workshops and training Maya provides, with the aim of strengthening the connections of Aboriginal families, communities, land and culture. Elizabeth Pike described the experiences of the offspring of the Stolen Generations through the eyes of an Aboriginal myth which is consistent with her own life story.



Aboriginal Reconciliation in Melbourne


Peter Lewis, ANTAR Victoria; Vicky Walker, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne; John Bond, former Secretary of the National Sorry Day Committee

Peter Lewis is the Co-Chairperson of ANTAR Victoria Work, a state based organisation that is engaging with local groups and a national body, to build trustworthy and just relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In this presentation, Peter discussed how to initiate and develop campaigns to stimulate awareness and create effective change, generating moral and legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in accordance with UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Peter also provided information on how to bring together non-Indigenous Australians to inform, educate and shift attitudes so they may play an active role in reconciliation and in recognising Indigenous rights.



Breaking Barriers. Global Women of Faith Network, Religions for Peace

Sr Patricia Blundell RSM,Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Women of Faith Network, Religions for Peace; Dr Lilian Sison is Co-ordinator, Asia & the Pacific Women of Faith Network/ACRP Women's Committee; Anna Halafoff, Monash University; Jacqueline Ogega, Director, Women's Mobilization, Religions for Peace

The Religions for Peace workshop invited women of faith to collaborate on deeply held and widely shared concerns about peace building, reconciliation and advocacy for justice. This interactive workshop began with an international panel of speakers sharing experiences of peace building and development. The second half of this workshop encouraged the forming of partnerships, by providing an opportunity for women of faith to interact with one another regarding how to strengthen the Women of Faith Networks internationally.


Removal: The Indigenous Reality – Youth Session


Darlene St Clair, Bdewakantunwan Dakota; Visopiano Sanyü , Indigenous to Nagaland

At the 2009 Praliament, this workshop allowed participants to listen to the stories of Aboriginal Australians, Native Americans, and the indigenous people of Nagaland, as they spoke about the impact removal has had on them and their communities.


The Calling to Interfaith Ministry and Interfaith Practice


Robert Hrasna, A World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy; Tim Miner, Order of Universal Interfaith; Robert Sellers, Logsdon School of Theology, Hardin-Simmons University

At the 2009 Parliament, this panel described two new organizations that have been formed to support the growing number of ministers who have answered the call of the expanding and dynamic Interfaith movement. It examined the application of interfaith cooperation and mutual learning in relation to Christian leadership, to scholars, and to adherents. It also discussed the environmental challenges faced in common by people of all faiths.



Come into the Presence of God: A celebration of the Divine in Words, Music & Silence Embedded Image



Reverend Dr Stephanie Dowrick, Interfaith Minister (Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney), best-selling writer and columnist, retreat leader; Dr Kim Cunio, Sacred music specialist. composer and musician; Heather Lee, Renowned soprano - who will be supported by musicians from diverse religious/cultural backgrounds; Reverend Hilary Star, Interfaith Minister, Auckland, NZ, convenor of tertiary training programmes throughout the Pacific; Robin Ramsey, Actor, writer, film-maker, long-time meditator; Charlie Hogg, National Director, Brahma Kumaris, Australia; Jolyon Bromley, Writer, teacher, interfaith activist

This exquisite multi-art form programme weaved voices from all the sacred traditions into a single spiritual unity. Moving from the ecstatic to the visionary and the meditative, it celebrated the Divine and our human relationship to the Divine through words - poetry, scripture, revelation - as well as inspired music from leading sacred musicians, and brief but powerful silence. The invitation is to know ourselves to be, always and inevitably, in the presence of God. The emphasis was on receiving the great universal teachings of love from East and West and especially on those that effortlessly lead us to an appreciation of love at the centre of our lives and as a unifying and healing force for all of humanity, through the most profound expressions of the numinous and Eternal.



Evening Plenary:



Sacred Music Concert


At the 2009 Parliament, this concert included performances of the world's sacred music and movement by world-class musicians from diverse religious and spiritual traditions. It included Muslim singer-songwriter Zain Bhikha; Indian flautist Natesan Ramani & singer Manjiri Kelkar; Jewish vocalists and ensemble of Dr Kim Cunio and Heather Lee.

More information on Artists and Musicians



Films included:


An Islamic Conscience: The Aga Khan and the Ismailis


Shamir Allibhai

The Aga Khan has been the spiritual leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims for the past five decades. Born into wealth and privilege, he has devoted his life to eliminating poverty and inequality. At a time when Islam is at odds within itself and with the West, this film presented the Aga Khan as a voice of moderation, speaking out for pluralism, and promoting dialogue between civilizations.


With One Voice


Matthew Flickstein

With One Voice brings together mystics from fourteen different spiritual traditions to share their perspectives on the unifying truth that transcends all religions. In this documentary, these teachers address profound questions about life and love, the existence of God, the path to spiritual awakening and the way to true peace in the world. They ask us to look within our own hearts and listen deeply, so we too can join the conversation and speak With One Voice.