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I.C.U. Interfaith Coalition for Understanding

I.C.U. Interfaith Coalition for Understanding (Christchurch)

Media Release 27/10/02

Advising of a very successful event just passed today, .....

A Sunday afternoon marked by thunder and a hailstorm did not deter 80 participants from a variety of faith traditions joining together for prayer and readings, for world peace. The gathering was held this afternoon at the Knox Church Centre in Bealey Avenue(Christchurch). This was an opportunity to jointly express our desires for non-violent answers to world tensions.

We achieved this kind of interest & practical support in terms of bottoms-on-seats, with no prior media publicity whatsoever. Such are the concerns now held for ever-increasing world tensions.

This event was organised by the Interfaith Coalition for Understanding(Christchurch) as our effort towards "The Week Of Prayer Towards World Peace". The programme consisted of prayers and readings and a hymn relating to peace from various religious traditions, read by representatives of those traditions.

Amongst other speakers, Ola Kamel(Ph.343-3632) from the Canterbury Muslim Association reflected that we should be more concentrating on our "similarities" rather than our differences. Hymn-writer (Bill)W. L. Wallace in his hymn that we all sang, pondered whether repaying force with counter-force could deliver peace. Mr Terran Smith(Ph.359-4910) of the Tibet Buddhist tradition quoted the H.H. Dalai Lama's reference to the "common language" that all great traditions have, upon which true communication can be built with "patience & tolerance". Caroline Hurst of the Jewish tradition spoke of performing the commandments and emphasised in particular, the responsibility to pursue peace. Speakers from the Christian, Bahai'i, Brahma Kumaris, Chinese Buddhist & Quaker traditions, also spoke calling for non-violent answers. The prayer meeting opened with a reminder of the millennium resolution for new start and closed with a prayer for peace.

CONTACTS:

Stephen Rice Media Person Ph. 332-1763

Rev. John Latham I.C.U. Convenor Dr. Bill Shepard(an original member) ..........

...... About the I.C.U. The Interfaith Coalition for Understanding (ICU) consists of a group of Christchurch people from different religious and spiritual traditions who are concerned to improve interfaith understanding through dialogue. At present we meet informally once a month (usually the first Monday) to share our experiences, concerns and interests. We also sponsor larger public meetings from time to time. In June we sponsored a meeting in which a Tibetan Buddhist teacher and an Anglican priest engaged in dialogue about meditation. In August we sponsored a meeting in which a group of young adults from Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Baha'i traditions, discussed their experience of religion as teenagers. We plan to hold one more public meeting this year, in October. Details will be announced soon. The ICU does not have formal officers. Its co-ordinator is Rev. John Latham, though Dr Bill Shepard was interim co-ordinator for part of the year while John was overseas.

The group began last year (2001) with a series of meetings on interfaith concerns organized by John Latham, then vicar of St. Luke's Anglican Church. In response to the events of September 11 we joined with other concerned people to hold an interfaith vigil in Cathedral Square on September 21. This larger group adopted the name "Interfaith Coalition for Justice and Understanding" and continued meeting regularly for the rest of the year, seeking appropriate ways to express and act on its concerns. At the end of the year the group decided to divide into two sections, one focussing on active efforts for "justice" and the other focussing on discussions and other activities aimed at "understanding". The ICU is the latter of these two sections.

For further information contact The Co-ordinator Rev. John Latham (03)355-6654

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