SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Interfaith In Sydney – Pitt Street Uniting Church

Reverend Dr Stephanie Dowrick is widely known as the author of a number of books including “Seeking the Sacred”. She has been leading spiritually inclusive services at Pitt Street Uniting Church each month since 2006. This is one of the world’s largest interfaith congregations with people gathering from way beyond Sydney to enjoy uplifting teachings from different faith traditions, exquisite music, prayer and the healing power of an accepting community. Music provided by Dr Kim Cunio, Heather Lee and Elizabeth Lecoanet. All are welcome at 3pm on third Sunday of the month at the Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney (one block from Town Hall).

Interfaith In Cronulla – Cronulla Library

Reverend Shalani McCray graduated from OneSpirit Interfaith Seminary in 2011 but, with her extended family, has been involved with the interfaith community at Pitt Street Uniting Church for several years. Shalani now offers inclusive interfaith gatherings at Cronulla, Sydney, which she and friends were moved to create after the Cronulla riots in 2005.

Gatherings are held on the first Tuesday of every month in meeting room 2 of the Cronulla library and a not-for-profit organisation has been formed with office bearers to administer the local activities. Shalani sees her home faith community as Pitt Street and the Cronulla gatherings as an outreach or extension of that.

Interfaith in Gordon – Gordon Library

The Positive Living Spiritual Centre was founded by Reverend Laurie Lea Levine who has been leading spiritually inclusive gatherings in Sydney for nearly 7 years combining meditation, live music and singing, spiritual message, candle lighting, readings and sharing.  The Centre is independent of any other group and combines New Thought, Science of Mind and Eastern philosophical and spiritual approaches. The core beliefs of the community are of the unity of life – that the highest God and the innermost God are one. There is no separation, only oneness and that God is good – there is no judgement, only acceptance and love . Gatherings are held on the last Sunday of each month at 4.00pm at the Gordon Library, 799 Pacific Highway, Gordon.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Interfaith in Auckland – Subud Centre

The Auckland Interfaith community is an inclusive spiritual community led by Reverend Hilary Star which originated out of an Easter retreat facilitated by Reverend Dr Stephanie Dowrick in 2004.  Interfaith gatherings have been held every month since 2008 and are now  in the Subud Centre, 19 Formby Avenue, Point Chevalier, originally a Baptist Church. Gatherings are warm and accepting, open to everyone and very relaxed.

Formby Avenue is a quiet suburban street, so it’s easy to find free street parking. Bus No. 045 will take you from the main railway station along Queen St. to Pt. Chevalier, the closest stop to the Centre. Buses 042 and 043 will take you to the junction of Great North Road and Pt. Chevalier. Keen cyclists can bring their bikes. However you get there we look forward to seeing you! https://www.facebook.com/InterfaithNewZealand

Retreats at the Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel Peninsula

Interfaith minister, writer and retreat leader, Reverend Dr Stephanie Dowrick leads annual retreats at the beautiful Mana Retreat Centre, a dedicated retreat centre about three hours south of Auckland on the famed Coromandel Peninsula with Reverend Hilary Star, founder and leader of the Auckland Interfaith community. (Shuttles can be arranged and ferries are available).

It is impossible to imagine a lovelier landscape and the beauty and inspiration of the physical world is matched by the care and kindness of all who work there. Retreat life allows a far gentler and more healing pace than “ordinary” life, combining, as it does, highly supportive spiritual teaching, reflection, walks, rest, meditation (with guidance), delicious meals and optional body treatments including watsu and massage. You are most welcome to book extra days on either side of the retreats.

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5 responses »

  1. Thank you Emily. It is good to know there are regular times for diverse representatives to join together for something positive. Even a non-believer can feel that sense of “oneness,” at least with others and Nature. I have connections to a number of inter-spiritual groups in the SF Bay Area that include non-theists in the “faith community” mix. Most seem comfortable with that. I gave a closing “benediction” at one event, reciting a poetic piece by Walt Whitman. When I was an Interfaith Chaplain, I helped create a very inclusive Thanksgiving Eve service with congregations and unhoused (homeless) people all reading, praying, singing together. We also held a Memorial Procession through our town beginning 16 years ago and continuing until today. I’ve also spoken at the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley.

    I agree, Brookes, language baggage can get in the way, often putting up a small or large, “You’re Not Welcome” sign. That is often unintentional, but real. I go to some “interfaith” gatherings held in churches and we all have to sit beneath a huge crucifix or other “in your face” symbol. And I’m a fairly tolerant guy! The context is, most people of faith don’t know what to do with non-believers, even those of us who are open to continued relationship. On another level, here in the U.S. non-theists are not represented in our Congress and in most states cannot serve in public office (at least openly).

    I understand the “hippie days” comment, yet I like to hike back to John Muir and others (pre-hippie) who had little time for the distractions of the “other world” bringing us all back to the Human/Wild connection. I find that a good, natural place to start when interlacing people across all artificial borders, real or imagined.

    Thank you!

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  2. I was an Interfaith Chaplain for many years and still consider myself a Chaplain, though now, as a Freethinker, I utilize my skills in teaching, writing and social work. My wife is the director of a large Interfaith council and I often participate. I’ve also taught Chaplaincy courses through Cherry Hill Seminary. I thought I would simply float an idea across the sea about the inclusion of non-theists in these interfaith orgs and events. Not all of us are angry Atheist types and value the power of collaboration with people of faith. Sometimes I dream of growing a “community congregation” in my area that would be fully inclusive of the spectrum of beliefs and unbeliefs. I wonder if anyone has tried this and if so, what were/are the results? Here is a concept I came up with http://www.communitycongregation.wordpress.com. I would be interested to hear responses. Thank you.

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    • Here in Eugene Oregon we have a monthly interfaith prayer service that has been going strong since 2001. Its held on the 11th of the month, every month from 6:45 to 8pm and features presenters from all faith traditions and welcomes all to join. Last night we came together and celebrated the theme of “Oneness” with 12 presenters of different backgrounds & experiences. We recently joined the North American Interfaith Network and are looking to outreach 🙂
      Please say hi! https://www.facebook.com/Interfaithprayer

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      • How wonderful, Emily! Our first regular services in Australia started in 2005. Yes, we’re looking to outreach too. There’s been a gap between us “Down Under” and the Asia Pacific with you in the Northern Hemisphere and we’re interested in creating better links – perhaps even a worldwide network. A couple have been formed already but they’re not “grass roots” bottom-up models, more top-down and therefore not very representative of the diversity which is intrinsic to Inter/Multifaith. We’d love to keep in touch. in peace

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    • Thanks for your comments, Chris – good to meet you. Interestingly, these kinds of inclusive communities are already forming around Interfaith events, though not so much around the worship services which presuppose the existence of the Divine to experience the Divine Encounter – or Interfaith Dialogue, which presupposes 2 or more practitioners of a particular faith path encountering each other. But in Australia and New Zealand, there are some communities where social justice groups or those with environmental concerns are beginning to explore humanity, and the earth where we live, to be intrinsically sacred, without the need for external Gods and Goddesses. Sometimes there’s a pantheist or a panentheist phase, where the Divine is recognised as being expressed in physical form through Nature, but there’s a growing movement towards the sacred as an intrinsic quality of humanity and therefore, of our lived experience.

      I love your community congregation idea, though it still has the word “congregation” which unfortunately has a bit of Christian “baggage”. That’s a shame because the word beautifully describes coming together in a shared experience. I also love the concept of a Nature Chaplain – reminds me a bit of my hippie days where we created what we called then, “spiritual communities” – we lived on the land, only ate what we could grow/barter, experienced the Divine in everything we did and organised Down To Earth Festivals as a shared experience of Nature. That movement split into a few groups, one of which became the Australian Greens, a political party which holds some power in the Senate in Australia. Other groups developed into Findhorne-like centres with psycho-spiritual courses and training. It was a wonderful time and sowed the seeds for the expression of my own nature.

      We’ve struggled with words too – the best we can do at the moment is to describe the diversity in a shared experience of “Oneness” – which definitely includes non-theists. Thanks again for your comments. We try very hard to be inclusive on this site and it seems we may not have been fully conscious of our “theist” language. in peace

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