I am including to-day the latest calendar from the Faith Communities Council of Victoria.
I am doing this because I come across widespread confusion among people about what the word 'interfaith' means.
- Some people think that 'interfaith' is a religious denomination. Well, the answer is really yes and no. Yes, there are faith communities who actually refer to themselves by name as Interfaith. They have communities with leadership that use the designation 'Reverend' as the renowned Australian Stephanie Dowrick does. I have never been to the services or events of these communities. However, my understanding is that such faith communities freely draw on the wisdom and spirituality of many of the great religions.
- Then there are interfaith organisations which are community organisations and networks. These, generally, fall into two categories (at least in Victoria where I live). Some have close connections with local councils - just as Aboriginal reconciliation and multicultural organisations do - by working closely with Community Services Departments of councils, particularly when major events are planned. These organisations are, frequently, able to access organisational expertise and funding from such departments. Currently, in Melbourne and outlying cities and towns close to Melbourne are being organised into 'divisions' - north, south, east and west - as the numbers of interfaith organisations have grown in Melbourne. It is hoped that such divisions will be able to take on larger and broader projects within larger communities.
- There are interfaith organisations which have been established independently of association with local government. In Victoria, the organisations that spring to mind are Religions for Peace Australia; COMMON; Women's Interfaith Network Foundation (WIN); and GreenFaith Australia. The last named organisation is an interfaith organisation with an environmental emphasis. GFA is currently in discussion relating to a merger with ARRCC.
- The Faith Communities Council of Victoria is a major unifying or umbrella organisation for interfaith organisations. The FCCV was established in the run-up to the Parliament of the World's Religions which was held in Melbourne in 2009.
I would make two more points. I am a member of the Ballarat Interfaith Network. Our motto is - Conversations not conversions. Like true interfaith organisations, we regard our work as being one of peace and mutual respect while getting to know each other better. Religion and culture, as a generality, go hand in hand. As the multi-cultural aspect of modern Australian society broadens and extends, involvement in an interfaith organisation can provide some great good times, good food, and interesting friendships. And isn't this what Australians are about?
If you would like to know more about the topic of interfaith or get further information about interfaith activities and organisation in Victoria you can get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, if you want to be put in touch with local interfaith organisation, please be in touch with the Faith Communities Council of Victoria.
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