At the very core of every religion are gratitude, love and sincerity which are expressed in a variety of ways and yet they express and celebrate a shared essence. Good morning Sr. Margaret, Mr. Hazzaratti and Mr. Matek Today we will be explaining the common elements in religious expression in Australia highlighting religious harmony and interfaith dialogue and ecumenical developments within Christianity.
Appreciation and respect for religious diversity and commonalities are an essential part of harmonious relationships within Australian multicultural, multifaith society. Interfaith dialogue is a co-operation between people of different religious traditions. Examples of this in Australia are:
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-The Council of Christians and Jews (Victoria) seeks to educate Christians and Jews to appreciate each other’s separate and distinct beliefs and their common ground.
-The Muslim Christian council, who together held prayers in Martin’s place for peace in Ambon, Indonesia.
Ecumenism is simply the movement towards the union of all Christians and eventually all people. Ecumenical developments within Christianity are evident on the world stage and on the local level.
On the world stage, the World Council of Churches was set up as a fellowship of churches that confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The WCC brings together more than 340 churches, denominations and church fellowships in over 100 countries and territories throughout the world, representing some 550 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches and scores of denominations from such historic traditions of the Protestant Reformation. As members of this fellowship, WCC member churches:
– are called to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship, and to promote their common witness in work for mission and evangelism;82
Current WCC programmes include a Decade to Overcome Violence, an international campaign to combat AIDS/HIV in Africa and the Justice, Peace and Creation initiative.
Some of the notable successes of the World Council of Churches are in the area of increased understanding and acceptance between Christian groups and denominations.
On the local stage, The National Council of Churches in Australia is made up of fifteen member churches that work together for the unity willed by Christ for his Church. It works in collaboration with state ecumenical councils around Australia. It is an associate council of the World Council of Churches, a member of the Christian Conference of Asia and a partner of other national ecumenical bodies throughout the world. The NCCA has set up many networks to combat poverty, racism and to promote ecumenism within Australia. Such networks include:
Gender Commission which works to combat gender inequality
Social Justice Network – which operates to bring churches together on common social justice issues, and draft material for the Council as a whole.
The Youth network exists to bring youth together ecumenically.
Through ecumenism or interfaith dialogue, all involved are committed to a future of growing together and through understanding and tolerance working through differences so to create a harmonious religious society within Australia.
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