Interfaith leaders and their respective faith community members gathered at Leigh Memorial Parramatta, to mark the International Day of Peace with an Interfaith Prayer Service on Thursday 21.
Hosted by Parramatta Mission, the ceremony began with the lighting of the peace candle by the Federal MP for Parramatta, the Hon Ms Julie Owens as well as an Acknowledgement of Country by Ms Pearl Wymarra.
Parramatta Mission’s Uniting Church minister, Rev. Dr Manas Ghosh, lead the proceedings calling the gathering a testament to the harmony possible between people of faith as well as the wider Australian society.
“Despite our differences, we are Australian. We share one thing, we share our humanity and we all long for peace.
“We affirm and hold that all religious values of our respected religions that teach us to love, respect and live with others in harmony and peace,” said Rev. Dr Ghosh.
The service included a number of prayers from the 15 faith groups represented including Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Islam, Baha’i, Brahmakumari and Zoroastrian faiths.
Rev. Keith Hamilton shared a prayer on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia that focused on the ongoing commitment by people of faith for the justice, peace and celebration of the ethnic diversity in Australia.
This highlighted what Rev Dr Ghosh called an important day to show the true meaning of multicultural Australia.
“While we pray together for peace, we also commit ourselves to work together to make this beautiful country of ours, a peaceful country— where everyone can live harmoniously while celebrating our differences,” said Rev Dr Ghosh.
After each prayer, those gathered joined in the refrain, “Let peace fill our heart, our world and our universe.”
Throughout the service, there were performances from a various faiths and cultures including Ms Debra Juma, who gave a warming rendition of a traditional Tanzanian praise song titled ‘Amen’. There was a Haka performance by students from the Arthur Phillip High School. The Amity College Prestons Primary Choir sang the popular Australian classic ‘I’m Australian’, before Bishwobeena Harmony with Tangore Inc performed a symbolic tree plantation ceremony for cultural harmony.
The uplifting atmosphere of the service continued long after the attendees were invited to light peace candles at the end, in a final symbol of harmony.
This is the fourth year that Parramatta Mission has hosted this Interfaith Prayer Service.