Presented at the Annual General Meeting
It is my pleasure to present the Chairperson’s report for the Queensland Faith Communities Council (QFCC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) of November, 2018.
This is the second AGM in the history of the QFCC since we were officially launched in May 2017.
Two of the essential operating achievements of the QFCC have now been achieved and I am very pleased to report that we have a bank account (with some funds) and we have organised Public Liability Insurance for the next 12 months. The Insurance has been a very time-consuming project and I thank the Secretary and the Executive for their perseverance with this.
In 2018, the Executive has met 6 times in accordance with our Constitution, and we have correctly held our two ‘open’ meetings – the General Council meeting on June 27 and tonight’s AGM.
Apart from the six Executive meetings, the three sub-committees – Education, Membership and Communications – have held separate meetings and have reported back to the Executive with their findings and achievements.
This sub-committee has met several times.
It was decided that the General Council Meeting in June be an opportunity to educate in the area of interfaith behaviour using our QFCC Code of Conduct as the guide.
A second Women’s Dinner was planned for the 24 October.
The Faith and Food Guide came from discussions at Education Subcommittee meetings.
This sub-committee met several times to discuss and prepare procedures and to evaluate membership applications in readiness for Executive meetings.
Two new Member organisations have been formalised
- The Abbey Church at St Michael’s, The Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ the King; and
- The Religious Society of Friends, Queensland Regional Meeting Inc; and
- a third is ‘in process’ with further discussions needed in the new year.
We may appear to be moving slowly, but we are moving with good governance foremost in our minds.
This sub-committee has provided us with a website and a member of the Executive is the web master.
Organisations can advertise their events on our page through the web master.
General Council Meeting 27-Jun-2018
Approximately 70 people attended this meeting and all feedback on the night was positive.
Our guest speaker was a former politician well-known for his support and promotion of interfaith activities.
Our guest speaker gave an excellent talk and challenged QFCC in a number of areas:
- “There are several bills being presented to both State and Federal Parliament at this time which are of special interest to some religious groups because of the position they take on what some consider “moral issues”. Does QFCC have a position on these? Does QFCC believe it should have a position?”
- “There are attempts in State Parliament to suspend the current practice of saying the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each session. Should there be prayer before each session? Should it be Christian or Multi-Faith?”
- “As members of QFCC we are committed to interfaith relations but are we bringing our communities along with us?”
As well as our speaker addressing the audience, the Secretary ran a session on Multi Faith Prayer, and a member of the Executive and I extrapolated on our Code of Conduct.
We hope to run these short education sessions at every opportunity, so that we, as an interfaith family have a structure on which we all can operate effectively and sensitively.
Launch of Faith & Food Guide 4-Sep-2018
We decided to use the launch to highlight the strong link between faith, food and service to the wider community.
We listened to presentations by the Sikh Community, ISKCON and a representative from Rosie’s food van, and were humbled by the generosity of these groups, not only in food but also in spirit.
Their presentations were enlightening and clearly demonstrated the importance of faith groups to the building and maintenance of a strong, connected and healthy Queensland community.
The Director of the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue officially launched the Faith & Food Guide and we are indebted to the Director for his unwavering support.
The dinner that followed these presentations was provided by members of the Executive and of course, a fellow member generously provided his curries as well.
Dinner was followed by a short exercise on Values. Tables were asked to rank their top 3 important Values – a harder task than you’d think. Respect, Love and Compassion won the votes and the discussion involved was thoughtful and enthusiastic.
This evening saw plenty of new faces and this was a conscious decision by the Executive to try and ‘bring our communities along’, as challenged by our guest speaker at our General Council Meeting in June.
Women’s Dinner 24-Oct-2018
This was the second Women’s Dinner and again it was a highly successful evening.
45 people attended with ages ranging from 3 months to “who is counting”. Yes, we had 3 babies attend and they brought down the average age spectacularly!
The food was provided by the Executive and again it was generous and delicious and the conversations over dinner were far-ranging.
We deliberately encourage those with little experience of interfaith gatherings to attend and this is helping us to reach our communities and broaden the participation.
Our two speakers, from The Abbey Church and the Pagan Community, spoke passionately and educated us of their faith experience.
I attended the lunch and launch of a study guide to the document “Friendship in the Presence of Difference” at the Uniting Church Synod premises in Auchenflower. This was particularly pleasant as the leading author of the document is a member of our Executive.
ISKCON invited me to say a few words at their wonderful Festival of Chariots in the CBD at the end of April. It was a great day of food and culture and a true celebration of our freedom to celebrate our religions in a public space.
In June, the Secretary and I were invited to meet with the UQ academic team responsible for the project “A Queensland Atlas of Religion (faith, migration, identity). This project will take place over the next 4 years and will be a wonderful digital resource for us all.
I attended the 2018 Multi Cultural Community Reception at Parliament House in August.
I attended the launch of the Abbey Multi-Faith and Cultural Dialogue Centre at Caboolture on 10 August. There were over 160 people present, many of them being interfaith people plus a strong presence of Police from the neighbouring command centres on the north coast. This initiative of the Abbey community is to be congratulated and we wish them every success.
In August, I was joined by other Executive members and a good friend of the interfaith community at the Australian Catholic University. We were part of an interfaith panel organised by the ACU Campus Ministry team.
It has been another busy year and I would like to thank everyone on the Executive for their friendship, expertise, and willingness to give of their time to ensure this organisation is the best it can be. Everyone has contributed their knowledge and skills and our meetings pack a lot into the three hours.
A special mention to our Secretary, and our Treasurer and our Vice Chair for the extra responsibilities they have undertaken.
We volunteer for these roles because we believe in what we are doing and we are heartened by the support shown by all of you here tonight. We hope to keep growing in membership and in influence and we hope to keep providing a useful network of interfaith friendships for all of Queensland.
In conclusion, I would like to make special mention of the Memorial Vigil held at the Brisbane Hebrew Congregation in Margaret Street, City on 1st November 2018. The vigil was held to honour and remember those 11 Jews murdered in their Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on the previous Sabbath as they worshipped.
I was at a lunch at Parliament House yesterday hosted by Hon Stirling Hinchliffe, Minister for Multicultural Affairs amongst other portfolios, and he remarked on attending the vigil and being struck by the large number of interfaith leaders and volunteers in the synagogue that night. He said it spoke well of the diverse and harmonious community we have in Queensland.
I can say that as soon as the news of the murders spread to us here in Australia, I was inundated with messages of sympathy and support from all my interfaith friends, many of whom were unable to be with us physically at the vigil, but who were with us in spirit.
Because of the strong friendships built up over the years and the role that the QFCC plays in that, our small and saddened Jewish community was embraced that night by the Queensland interfaith family in true solidarity, for which we will always be grateful.
Queensland Faith Communities Council