Moonee Valley Interfaith Network - Annual General Meeting
MVIN held its AGM, on Wednesday 25 November. We invite you to read a report about this event as shared in our
December 2015 newsletter
"Celebrating our Diversity - Violence in the Society"
5 August 2015
The first main speaker, Monash University’s Department of Politics and International Relations Prof. Sayed Khatab, who chose to focus on radical religious violence, and asked what it is that leads some young people to terrorism. He saw a clear link with events in the Middle East, and asked us to consider the ‘Australian Values’ that were in contest in the recent confrontation in Melbourne between anti-Islam and anti-racism protesters. He insisted that freedom of speech does not mean freedom to insult, because freedom is always limited – nothing in life is absolute. This, he pointed out, is the nature of reality. That said, he was just as emphatic that the current violence is not religious but political, and can be traced back to two clusters of issues: the old unsolved issue of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the newer issue of the coalition against terror. Prof. Khatab saw education as the key to growing harmony in society, and expressed dismay that so few schools teach religion or about religion.
The second speaker was Episcopal Vicar of the Catholic Theological College and Chairperson of the Archdiocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith, Very Rev. Denis Stanley, who asked: What can faith communities offer? How can they promote a shift in perspective? To this he saw three elements: The need to build bridges between believers; The importance of personal encounter and sharing of experience; and education. First, he saw it as important that we who take faith seriously and who hold common ethical values should be heard, but also that we should go deeper, and ask how do our beliefs shape us, including our real differences. Fr. Stanley pointed out that faith does have real public consequences, but that many Australians are uncomfortable in the presence of faith statements, and with listening and talking about belief. This is a matter of taking people’s faith seriously. Second, faith needs to be disentangled from culture: What of faith must stand in judgement on culture, and what of culture can refine faith?’ he asked. He cited the Christian significance of the call to be peace-makers, i.e. builders of peace. This will centre on the dialogue of everyday life, conversations that are not without risk (because people may not get on, for all sorts of reasons), but are nevertheless vital to peace-making. Third, there is the need for ‘interior conversion’, a matter of a change of heart and mind, in us as dialogue partners, and this will start with education. Like the first speaker, he deplored the relative absence of religious education, both by parents and in public schools.
The third speaker, Ms Natalie Peach, a local resident and currently in the middle of her postgraduate studies in clinical psychology, focussed on the prevention of violence from a Baha’i perspective. Behaviour, especially violent behaviour, is set in place between the ages of 15 and 19 years, so strategies like anti-bullying education needs to be in place before the age of 14. The reality of increasing violence suggests we are failing to do this, and faith communities can contribute by offering a different perspective on human nature, and develop a ‘quality of soul’ through prayer and compassion for the deep well-being of our fellow human beings. Childhood between the ages of 11 and 14 should be treated as a time of great potential, and thus assessed positively for what is possible. Ms Peach then went on to speak of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program run by the Baha’i in Melbourne: ‘a spiritual problem needs a spiritual solution’, she argued.
Ms Ruvini Leitan a Law graduate from Monash University with a strong commitment to social justice and community engagement, responded briefly about the importance of education for the growth of respect, and exposure to new ideas.
MVIN's 2014 AGM and Art Exhibition
On Thursday, 9th of October 2014, the Moonee Valley Interfaith Network (MVIN) welcomed over 60 members and guests at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Art Exhibition.
The participants enjoyed the opportunity to hear our keynote speaker Mr Sandy Kouropidis, the Multifaith Officer, Faith Communities Council of Victoria; reports by outgoing Chairperson, Rev Mark Dunn and outgoing Secretary Dr Senem Eren; as well as an address Mr Frank Di Blasi, the newly elected Chairperson of MVIN. The program also included a beautiful traditional Indian dance performance, an art exhibition and marbling demonstration and a gourmet dinner enjoyed ball.
The newly elected members of MVIN as shared at the AGM are as follows:
Mr Frank Di Blasi (Chairperson), Dr Duncan Reid (Secretary), Mr Tony De Fazio (Vice Chairperson), Mr Al-Amin Idris (Treasurer) and general members: Dr. Senem Eren, Rev. Faith Johnson, Mr Kirit Kapadia, Mrs Kokila Naidu, Mr Inderbir Singh and Mrs Emilia Tabrizi.
We wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to Rev Mark Dunn for his tireless efforts serving as the Chairperson and member of MVIN in the recent years, as well as Dr Senem Eren for her tremendous efforts as the Secretary of MVIN. While Dr Eren will continue her membership on the Board, we are saddened to share that Rev Dunn has decided to step down due to his increased commitments. We take this opportunity also to welcome Rev. Faith Johnson.
Mr Di Blasi's address is available here
Moonee Valley Interfaith Network and City of Moonee Valley presents:
"Celebrating our Diversity - Education of Children"
On 26th of May MVIN hosted the first of "Celebrating our Diversity" events, which saw approximately 50 people come together to hear about different faith perspectives on the topic of educating our children. Our panel of guest speakers included Mrs. Annette Subhani from the Baha'i community who shared about “Sharing Circles”, a model of how education can be used to celebrate diversity. Dr. Duncan Reid, an Anglican priest and teacher of religious studies spoke about the importance of nurturing faith based education in the school curriculum and highlighted that education is the key through ignorance. Mr. Inderbir Singh from the Sikh community shared experiences and insights about the importance of education of children and Prof. Nalin Sharda who teaches and leads research in innovative applications of information technology at Victoria University spoke about the ideal parent and the importance of modelling the behavior we want to see in our children. The evening continued with refreshments and a stimulating Q & A session with panel members that left the audience members excited about the next topic in this series.
Further information about this event
MVIN AGM and Celebratory Event
Further information about this event
About 110 people attended the Moonee Valley Interfaith Network’s Diversity Dinner on Friday 8th February, hosted by St John’s Uniting Church Essendon and held in conjunction with St John's monthly International Hospitality Dinner program. The Samoan community that worships at St John’s generously provided a true Samoan feast on an exuberant scale, and equally exuberant entertainment in the form of traditional dances. The strong local Korean membership of the congregation added to the cultural diversity of the occasion. The Minister at St John’s, the Rev Mark Dunn, who is also the chair of the MVIN executive board, spoke about his own commitment to interfaith and intercultural dialogue, referring to the impact upon him of the story of the encounter between Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7: 24 – 30 and Matthew 15: 21 – 28). Mark accompanied this reflection with a PowerPoint presentation, and also gave a brief summary of the activities of the MVIN over the past year. .
End of the Year Celebration
We said goodbye to 2012 with our end of the year celebration on Thursday the 13th of December - an evening of delicious food, inspiring conversations and connection with the Interfaith community. Under the MC of Frank Di Blasi we heard from our guest speaker, Anglican Ordinand Ms. Emily Fraser on the topic of "Faithful Spirituality Unites". She shared stories, photographs and reflections from attending the Future Faith Leaders programme in Indonesia. Speaking about the common bond of faith and spirituality she indicated that “Different faiths have common concerns, such as living lives which are pious, honest, have integrity, honour God, and are full of charity, generosity, love and compassion for one another. Unity is found through these common concerns as we work together to achieve these common goals”.
The program also included speeches from our newly appointed Mayor Cr. Narelle Sharpe and Cr. Jim Cusack. Our Chairperson Rev. Mark Dunn provided a summary of the MVIN journey over the last year and highlighted some of our achievements. The evening concluded with a special performance by the St. John’s Uniting Church, Korean Dance group, who had everyone in stitches with a surprise performance of “Gangham Style”.
The MVIN held its inaugural meeting on
Thursday 22 March 2012, providing an opportunity to celebrate the launch of our new network and our diversity, and the elections for the Executive Board for all Interfaith Network members.
The program included speeches by Cr Ange Kenos (Moonee Valley City Council) as well as the Deputy Chairperson of Victorian Multicultural Commission, Mr Ross Alatsas and Mr Theo Mackaay; General Secretary, Victorian Council of Churches; as well as amazing performances by PEGS Chinese Orchestra; Gatka “Sikh Martial Arts”; Kirtan “Sikh Singers with wind instruments and Tabla; the Sema Ceremony (Sufi Whirling Dervishes) by Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi Group of Essendon; and the St. John’s Uniting Church, Essendon Samoan Choir, concluding with Manu (War Dance). The evening concluded with opportunity to network and make new friends over refreshments. All are welcome and encouraged to be involved as the network continues to grow and has a harmonious influence in the community.
Tour of Places of Worship
Would you like an opportunity to visit local places of worship, including an opportunity to be welcomed by a member/leader of each faith and to learn something of their belief, practices and community here in Moonee Valley?
The Moonee Valley Interfaith Network piloted five multifaith bus tours to different places of worship in Moonee Valley early 2012.
An opportunity to visit the places of worship of the local faith communities, including:
- A Catholic Parish in Avondale Heights
- A Hindu Temple in Sunshine
- A Greek Orthodox Parish in Keilor East
- A Sikh Gurdwara Temple in Craigieburn
- A Uniting Church in Essendon
- An Islamic Mosque in Broadmeadows
- A Quang Minh Buddhist Temple in Braybrook
- Indigenous historical walk around the Maribyrnong River
- The Brahma Kumaris Meditation Centre in Essendon
- A Sri Durga Hindu Temple in Rockbank
Payment of $5 per tour made on the day. This payment covers transportation and afternoon tea.
Stay tuned for information on upcoming tours. Bookings are essential as there is limited seating!