The second Sunday in Advent is traditionally Peace Sunday, and at Aldersgate it was celebrated by inviting different faith leaders to share their understanding of peace, in their faith tradition. The panel of speakers included:
- Imam Ibrahim Abdelhalim, Muslim Chaplain, Canterbury University
- Robert Hunt and Pimmy, New Zealand Buddhist Council
- Rev Philo Kinera, Durham Street Methodist Church.
This was a busy day for Imam Abdelhalim, as he had to rush from Aldersgate to Ngā Hau e Whā. Marae, where the Prime Minister was releasing advance copies to victims and family members of the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques. Abdelhalim was previously Imam of Linwood Mosque, and received the 2019 Anne Frank Interfaith Unity Award, in recognition of his spiritual leadership in the aftermath of the March 15 attacks. The Iman pointed out that often what leads to Islamophobia is ignorance. He appealed to all to pursue peace and cultivate a better understanding of other religions.
Robert Hunt accompanied by Pimmy Takdhada from the NZ Buddhist Council are known in many interfaith circles. Hunt gave us insight on the attainment of inner peace, and more universally understandable aspects of the teaching and practice of Buddhism. The overall intent was to convey how important it is in Buddha’s teaching to cultivate qualities of the heart in a peaceful way. Qualities such as kindness and compassion are to be in balance with mindfulness, insight and peace.
Both speakers focused on how we might get beyond assumptions about each other and build peace together.
Rev Philomeno Kinera (Durham Street Methodists) described this coming together as part of Aldersgate’s inclusive interfaith outreach, which has opened up new possibilities for inter-religious service. “To overcome ignorance,” she said, “which often leads to xenophobia, an understanding of other religious beliefs and practices is an important part of our ministry at Aldersgate.”
“Our communities are being challenged to move beyond boundaries which some of us have become very comfortable within. If we are to follow Jesus, we too must step beyond the boundaries and open ourselves to new ways of being in the world. At the end of the day, we have to face and work through our own cultural and religious prejudices. We have to start somewhere!”