Presented at the General Council Meeting
Thank you for the opportunity to present my fifth Chairpersons report tonight.
Reflections on the past 6 months at the Queensland Faith Communities Council
As many of you are aware, the Queensland Faith Communities Council (QFCC) was officially launched in May 2017 right here in this building (Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue (CICD) at Griffith University).
A little History and Farewell to our two Affiliate members
While we are a relatively ‘new’ organisation, our relationships in many cases have been built on nearly two decades of interfaith friendship and trust. QFCC launched with 15 Foundation Ordinary Members, and now we have grown to 20 Ordinary Members or faith communities, as well as 2 Affiliate and 5 Associate Members. Sadly, with the closure of the CICD at the end of 2020, we have lost this affiliate as well as the Believing Women for a Culture of Peace group which I will address later.
Our members are found in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and of course Brisbane. Our aim is to build a working relationship with interested groups or individuals from all over Queensland. This is challenging for such a large state as ours, but challenges are there to be met.
Thank you to Delegates and Executive
Thank you to all the delegates from Member organisations who are present tonight.
I trust you will report back to your governing bodies that QFCC is ‘alive and well’ despite the challenges of the pandemic, and that we are still providing solid representation and educational and community resources that are relevant and much needed.
Thank you also to the returning executive members.
Our Constitution provides for annually holding 6 Executive meetings and 2 General member meetings – being the General Council Meeting in June and the Annual General Meeing in November of each year. The executive has met in February, March and April of this year and will meet in July, September and October.
Farewell to Executives
In February, we formally farewelled the former General Secretary of Queensland Churches Together (QCT) and our former representative of the Islamic Council of Queensland (ICQ) and OAM recipient from the executive with a lunch. We have all benefitted from their dedication, interfaith experience and wisdom over the past 4 years of QFCC and for the many years of service before that. They will be missed.
Thanks go to the 2nd Vice President of QCT, who attended all QFCC meetings and was a good sounding board for issues that arose.
Welcome to new Executive Members
At the February executive meeting we welcomed President of the Islamic Council of Queensland and the new commissioned General Secretary of Queensland Churches Together.
Both gentlemen are well known in the interfaith world, and we are truly fortunate that we can now benefit from their wide experience.
Believing Women for a Culture of Peace
On February 23, the QFCC Secretary and I spent some time with the founder of Believing Women for a Culture of Peace (BWCP) to learn about the history of the group, one of our affiliates. It was a valuable experience to hear her speak and we hope to be able to carry on some of the initiatives of this group as sadly, this group has now closed.
BWCP has been a highly active group for the past 17 years, and the founder is to be congratulated for her endless energy and vision in promoting peace and harmony in our society, and BWCP can be very proud of its history and legacy.
Bahá’í Community World Interfaith Harmony Week
In early February, our Bahá’í members celebrated World Interfaith Harmony week with a difference. Several representatives of faith groups were invited to the Bahá’í Centre of Learning in Brisbane headquarters in Milton to speak on the topic “Crisis and Victory: How crisis brought us together” to a large zoom audience. I really enjoyed this unique experience and it demonstrated that COVID has quietened us, but it has not silenced us – there are always creative ways to keep connected. Thank you to the Bahá’í community for this opportunity.
Celebration of Arrival of the Bahá’í Faith in Australia
On February 25 we were invited by the Bahá’í community to attend a reception at Parliament House celebrating the centenary of the arrival of the Bahá’í Faith in Australia. The founders in Australia were honoured and a publication ‘Creating an Inclusive Narrative’ was launched. The Queensland Member for Cooper hosted this significant occasion.
April and May Activities
The months of April and May saw several Iftar dinners take place for Ramadan.
We attended the Lord Mayor’s Iftar Dinner at Sunnybank on the 15th of April, as well as the annual Queensland Education and Cultural Foundation (QEFC) Peace and Dialogue Iftar dinner at Wisdom College on 6th May.
This dinner was co-hosted by the Member for Nudgee and Member for Oodgeroo along with QEFC.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Iftar dinner was held on May 9th at their Mubarak Mosque in Camp Hill, and was an opportunity for the local residents to view the mosque and mix with the Ahmadiyya community.
CALD Community Engagement Programme
The Secretary and I met with representatives from the Mater Hospital and Red Cross to discuss how QFCC could help the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Community Engagement Programme which is disseminating vaccine advice to CALD community – particularly youth, international students, unemployed, and domestic violence survivors.
Both representatives advised they are working on a power point slide presentation that they are happy to share with us once finalised and QFCC can then disseminate to our contacts.
Vedanta Celebration of Sri Ramakrishna’s Birthday
Several executive members attended and spoke at the annual Vedanta Public Celebration of Sri Ramakrishna’s Birthday and multi faith meeting. Our topic was ‘how my faith instils hope in a time of crisis’. This was followed, as always, by a delicious lunch. The Vedanta Centre at Springfield continues to thrive and serves a growing community.
Vesak Day Celebration at the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monastery
Recently, the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monastery invited several of our members to speak at their annual Vesak day celebration on the topic of “World Peace through Spirituality”. This conference was a wonderful gathering of monks from around Australia as well as monks zooming in from the United States of America, Canada and Sri Lanka.
In a sea of orange robes and male suits, I was the only female speaker and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the wise words of so many faith leaders. It was an inspirational gathering, and yes, it was followed by a delicious lunch.
The Communication and Education sub-committee have been busy expanding the reaches of this organisation.
Thank you to the Communication sub-committee for working hard to provide us with a Facebook site, a YouTube channel and a blog site that contains interesting reading. A lot of work and time goes into these and I hope you take the time to read and view them. A special thank you to our Vice Chair and his company (Radius Benders) who hosts the website and email accounts at no cost, and pays for the domain name registrations.
Death and Dying videos and booklets
The Education sub-committee have also been working on finalising the filmed talks by several faith groups on death and dying and all end -of- life issues. This project is co-ordinated by the Uniting Church Chaplain at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and we have provided the speakers. The recording and editing company will hopefully provide us soon with a product that we can edit to our satisfaction and then upload to our YouTube channel.
The hospital is making the series of talks available to their chaplains and palliative care staff.
Similarly, we have had input to the updating of the ‘Dying Well’ document created by the Uniting Care Health Chaplain at the Brisbane Wesley Hospital.
Proposed On-line Interfaith Course
One of our education sub-committee members, from the Uniting Church, is in the process of writing an on-line Interfaith course for QFCC which will be filmed, edited and then shown by zoom. The relevant speaker will be present for their zoom session to allow for a Q&A session.
This is not a comparative religion course but rather a series of possibly 10 lectures and discussions that will enable us to gain a greater appreciation of our own life stories and who we are and how we view the world. This is an exciting project and will be a highly valuable asset for QFCC.
Up Coming Events
We are hoping to hold Women of Faith and Men of Faith dinners ‘in person’ this year and are investigating the current COVID requirements. Hopefully, the dinners will take place in the next few months, all going well.
We are also looking at re-introducing our ‘Visits to Places of Worship’ in the second half of this year. This was a very successful programme in the past, and it was only halted because of COVID.
New Membership Applications
The membership sub-committee have received three Associate membership applications which have been processed and will be actioned at the General Council meeting tonight.
In conclusion, I want to thank you, the membership, and the executive for meeting and exchanging ideas, thereby strengthening the very fabric of our Queensland society.
A special thank you to our Treasurer, Deputy Chair and Secretary who drive this organisation. Our secretary in particular devotes enormous energy to keeping QFCC on track.
Thank you to the Reverend at Griffith University who has been instrumental in getting us the booking at the Multi-Faith Centre and I appreciate his efforts, particularly at this very sad time for him.
We acknowledge our videographer who has patiently and professionally been responsible for the AV set-up and filming tonight. Thank you.
Thank you also to our Hare Krishna (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) friends at Govindas who made the vegetarian samosas and rolls for tonight and also to one of our executive members who made the delicious pumpkin soup for all of us to enjoy.
2021 has so far been another year of drama with the pandemic continuing to insinuate itself into our daily lives.
There has been a:
- documented increase in acts of anti-Semitism both here and abroad,
- a rise in vilification of those who are recognisably ‘different’ both on the street and virtually on social media sites,
- a concerning growth of confidence and public gathering of far-right groups,
- a growing resistance to listen to and hear different points of view; and
- a general antagonism and disrespect for formerly valued institutions and people professing a faith – It is indeed a time of challenge.
The role of organisations like the QFCC is now more important than ever. If we, a diverse group of regular people of faith, can work together and enjoy each other’s company while celebrating and respecting our differences, and can learn from the rich traditions of each other while continuing to learn more about our own histories, what a wonderful example we can be, what a strong message we can promote. We will never all see the world in the same way, but the way we look at the world – with love, not suspicion and hate – is the only way to live a civilised life.
Queensland Faith Communities Council