National Day of Unity

Rev Dr Apwee Ting with Malcolm TurnbullNational director for Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry Rev Dr Apwee Ting joined with 50 other faith leaders at this year’s National Day of Unity launch.

Representatives from the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Baha’i faiths communities participated in the event, held at Parliament House in Canberra. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, federal opposition leader Bill Shorten and Greens leader Richard Di Natale attended the launch in a show of cross-party support.

Dr Ting was minister for Trinity Dandenong Uniting Church prior to commencing his role as national director for Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry. He shared his reflections on meeting the Prime Minister and celebrating diversity on his blog.

“From the crowd assembled in the courtyard at Parliament House, I was reassured to see so many other people across the community who are dedicated to building an inclusive society,” he wrote.

“Jesus calls us to love our neighbour, regardless of what faith they follow, what language they speak and what culture they belong to. As people of faith, we know God delights in our diversity and also seeks unity in the human family.”

Recent anti-Islam rallies in Bendigo and Parramatta have tested this spirit of unity. Dr Ting believes religious groups need to work together to break down barriers and combat rising tensions in the Australian community.

“At times like this we must work even harder to reject prejudice and hatred where it arises and be ambassadors for understanding and friendship,” he reflected.

“We, like others in our community, seek a new possibility to begin a national conversation that speaks of an inclusive and united Australia.

“In the Uniting Church we talk about ‘making space for grace’ – moving beyond the things that divide people – whether that’s gender, culture, ritual, tradition, socioeconomic status or language – to embrace what is different about each other.”

Uniting Church in Australia President Stuart McMillan joined with other faith leaders calling for harmony and mutual respect.

“The National Day of Unity is a timely reminder of the values we share across our faiths – dignity and respect for all people,” Mr McMillan said.

“We call on all Australians to embrace a spirit of generosity in the way we approach each other, welcome each other and offer hospitality to one another.”

National Day of Unity was organised by the Lebanese Muslim Association and Welcome to Australia.  The initiative also incorporates National Mosque Open Day and Walk Together events on Saturday 31 October.

More than 25 Walk Together events will take place in Australian capital and regional cities. The walks will send a message to this country’s leaders that a welcoming, compassionate and inclusive Australia is possible.

Melbourne will host a Walk Together event at 11am starting from the State Library of Victoria. There will also be walks in Hobart, Ballarat and Mildura. Visit the Walk Together website for more information.

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