Launch of the National Day of Unity
The Moderator Rev. Myung Hwa Park was part of an interfaith launch at Pitt Street Uniting Church for a National Day of Unity declared on 25 October and participated in the Walk Together event. This is in response to increased racial tensions within the Australian community to help dispel myths and promote social harmony.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith representatives and leaders at the launch called for unity at a time when recent media coverage has stirred hatred. Leaders urged people not to fall into negative rhetoric and to instead be the voice of wisdom. Leaders attending included Shaykh Wesam Charkawi, Samier Dandan, President of the Lebanese Muslim Association and President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev. Prof Andrew Dutney.
The Rev. Myung Hwa Park is pictured here with her friend Maha Abdo, Executive Officer of the Muslim Women’s Association and Rev. Eleni Poulis Uniting Justice.
Maha Abdo at the launch encouraged members of the community to visit a participating Mosque with an open heart and to learn more about Muslim culture. She urged people to continue to protect and to share our Australian values, to stand united, respect each other’s differences, and to preach love and tolerance.
Rev. Andrew Dutney, urged all Australians, whether of faith or of no faith at all, to reach out to our Muslim brothers and sisters in the spirit of friendship and understanding by taking part in the National Day of Unity events.
“Walk together” was held at 1.00 pm on Saturday October 25 at Sydney Town Hall and in Canberra at 1.00 pm at Reconciliation Place (near Questacon) to Parliament House.
About the National Day of Unity
Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders have announced October 25th as a ‘National Day of Unity’, in response to growing reports of discrimination, violence and rising tensions within the Australian community.
Standing together outside Pitt St Uniting Church, the religious leaders invited all Australians to personally take part in visible acts of harmony and understanding on Saturday, October 25th and spoke of two particular opportunities on the day, which will coincide. Welcome to Australia will be hosting their annual ‘Walk Together’ initiative, while the Lebanese Muslim Association will be launching the inaugural ‘National Mosque Open Day’.
National Mosque Open Day, an initiative supported by the Department of Social Services and endorsed by the Australian National Imams Council, will see mosques all over Australia opened to the public with guided tours, as well as the opportunity to engage with Muslims and their religious leaders and learn more about Islam. The event will also be community-centred, with activities for families and children, including jumping castles, food and drink stalls, BBQs, exhibitions and giveaways.
Samier Dandan, President of the LMA said, “I encourage all Australians to take this unique opportunity to visit their local participating mosque. Considering recent media events, I think it is imperative now, more than ever, that we try to overcome our differences and misunderstandings.” Mr. Dandan continued, saying, “This is an occasion to ensure that mutual misunderstandings between non-Muslims and Muslims can be resolved.”
Reverend Professor Andrew Dutney, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, said that the most important call on Christians is to love our neighbour as ourselves. “I urge all Australians, whether of faith or of no faith at all, to reach out to our Muslim brothers and sisters in the spirit of friendship and understanding by taking part in these events.”
Rabbi Adam Stein, of Kehilat Nitzan Synagogue, said in support of the declaration, “A National Day of Unity helps us remember that there are more issues that unite us than divide us. We must not import conflict, we must export peace instead.”
October 25th also sees the annual ‘Walk Together’ take place in 20 locations across Australia. Described by organisers as “a tangible expression of the Australia that is possible”, Walk Together seeks to remind Australians that “no matter who you are, where you come from or how you arrived here, you’re a human being, sharing common dreams of belonging, safety, peace and opportunity.”
“Walk Together is an opportunity to remind all Australians of who we are at our best – welcoming, compassionate, inclusive and generous,” said Pastor Brad Chilcott, “Fear, division and prejudice erode the health of our communities and damage our harmony. All Australians – people of faith and no faith – need to recognise that our future is shared. We can only build a better Australia if we commit to doing it together.”