United in Prayer for Peace
Fifteen different faith groups offered prayers for peace from their own religious tradition at an interfaith prayer service hosted by Parramatta Mission on 21 September.
The service was one of a number of events which took place across the country to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, bringing together people of many cultures and faiths.
Minister at Parramatta Mission Rev. Dr Manas Ghosh welcomed more than 100 guests to the Leigh Memorial Fellowship Centre including leaders of many different faiths, senior police, the Lord Mayor of Parramatta Cr Scott Lloyd, State Members for Parramatta and Granville Dr Geoff Lee and Julia Finn and Federal Member for Parramatta Julie Owens.
With a shared vision for a world united in friendship, the service drew on the deep faith traditions of those gathered to call for peace in our world.
In a symbolic gesture, all those present were invited to light a candle and place it on a cloth covered with the national flags of the world. At the end of the service, doves were released into the sky outside the front of the Church building.
The prayers offered by faith representatives were read in several languages. Faith groups included Baha’i, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhist, Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Hindu, Islam, Jain, Jewish, Mandaean, Sikh, Sufi, and Zoroastrian.
NSW/ACT Synod General Secretary Rev. Dr Andrew Williams read a prayer on behalf of the Uniting Church. Gudang Elder Pearl Wymarra read a prayer of the First Peoples of Australia.
At the end of each prayer, all responded with the refrain: “Let peace fill our heart, our world and our universe.” The phrase comes from a prayer by Mother Teresa and Jain monk Satish Kumar, which the authors adapted from the Upanishads, the central philosophical text of Hinduism.by
Prayers were interspersed with dances and song including cultural performances from the Jain and Hindu traditions. There was singing by the Circular Keys choir and a moving song by two members of Women’s Whispers, a therapy group for women who have experienced trauma. Ms Atu David had the audience singing along to her songs in Swahili.
Dr Pheroza Daruwalla offered the occasional address, sharing the story of her Zoroastrian ancestors who fled Iran and according to legend were granted refuge by King Jadi Rana in the region of the modern-day Indian state of Gujarat.
Dr Daruwalla said she would not be here today if it was not for the compassion shown by King Jadi Rana. She urged those present to likewise show compassion “through deeds, not just words” to people fleeing war and persecution and seeking refuge in Australia.
It was the second Interfaith Prayer Service at Parramatta Mission, and one of many hosted by Rev. Dr Ghosh.
Rebecca Beisler is the Communications and Resource Officer for Uniting Faith and Discipleship for the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia