Religious and political leaders joined forces with young adults in Adelaide on Saturday 26 August to complete an interfaith service project in aid of the homelessness charity, RuFus.
They were among 100 volunteers from various faith backgrounds who helped assemble 200 street and home starter packs during the Faith Matters Week service project, which was hosted by the Firle Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The dignitaries who lent support to the project included Speaker of the SA House of Assembly, Michael Atkinson MP, representing Premier Jay Weatherill.
Mr Atkinson praised the interfaith initiative. “Faith Matters Week is doing good work bringing together Christians of many denominations with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and others,” he said. “These connections are … important for people of faith … participating in civil society.”
President Rainer Korte and Speaker of the SA House of Assembly, Michael Atkinson
Member for Morialta John Gardner, Member for Hartley Vincent Tarzia, Father Charles Gauci of the Adelaide Cathedral Parish, Peter Bierer of the Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults and Shaista Kalaniya of the Muslim Women’s Association of SA also attended.
Vincent Tarzia MP, Firle Stake president Rainer Korte and John Gardner MP
“It was great to see so many young adults from a range of backgrounds being able to collaborate on a project that helps to strengthen our community, and which will support hundreds of less fortunate people,” Mr Gardner said.
“I saw these excellent young men and women find so much common ground in their shared values, and their desire to build community together. Events like this fill me with confidence for our future. I was so pleased to be able to participate in the interfaith event.”
About $15,000 worth of donated goods – including homewares, blankets, toiletries, knitted beanies, scarves and food – were handed over to RuFus after the event. RuFus spokesperson Peter Jolley said the packs would make a big difference for people living on the streets, and others transitioning into housing accommodation.
Interfaith participants at the Faith Matters service project
Faith Matters Week is designed to build bridges of understanding and respect between religious groups and to provide an interfaith opportunity for community service.
Young Muslims, Sikhs, Catholics and Latter-day Saints participated in this year’s events along with their faith leaders. Muslim participant Sada Sheka enjoyed her second consecutive year of involvement: “I was part of the group who visited parliamentarians at the start of the year (read here) to discuss worthwhile service projects that could help the community. I was really happy to see this all the way through – especially because I got to renew friendships as we worked together for a good cause.”
Sada Sheka and Balqis Halid preparing to assemble street packs
The event included a guest presentation by Islamic Education program director Dylan Chown, of UniSA, followed by round table discussions about faith beliefs.
LDS participant Madison Heal enjoyed the focus on sharing. “It was such an eye opener during the interfaith round table discussion, especially to see that – although we are from different faiths – we have the same joys and go through the same type of struggles, ” said Madison.
“It really helped me to feel united with other religious communities as the conversation focused on the similarities rather than debating differences.
“Many of those I spoke with have become my friends on social media. I look forward to future discussions and stronger friendships.”
The activity ended with cultural performances by Croatian dancing group, Lenek, and the Moaga family who staged a Samoan dance. Dinner also was served and prayer rooms made available for guests.
Firle Stake President, Rainer Korte, was thrilled with the Faith Matters activity and what it achieved. “In our commitment to interfaith events like this we are saying let’s not let lesser differences obscure chances for greater unity and undermine our collective desire to do good.”
In closing the evening and thanking all who participated he expressed the hope to see many come again to the 2018 Faith Matters interfaith activity.
LDS participant Benjamin Chau and young adult adviser Aurora Ballestrin with Peter Jolley and Jenny Richards of RuFus, event guest speaker Dylan Chown of UniSA and Peter Bierer of the Catholic Office of Youth and Young Adults
Benson Mac, Balqis Halid, Nicoya Verrion, Joshua Saunders, Charlotte Watts and Amber-Jean Mutton get to work for RuFus
Madison Heal of the Morialta Ward with Catholic participants Calia Sandona and Cristina Maiese
LDS Adelaide Public Affairs director Caroline McIlwaine with Father Charles Gauci of the Adelaide Cathedral Parish
Crews of volunteers get to work
Jayden Bramford of the Firle Ward with Tanveer Singh of the Sikh community
- Photographs taken by Dallin Howes