Memorial Service to honour the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks
On Monday 15 April 2019 at 6 pm outside Geelong City Hall, the Geelong Interfaith Network together with the Islamic Society of Geelong and City of Greater Geelong held a memorial service to honour the victims of the Christchurch terror attack which occurred on 15 March 2019.
It opened with a Welcome to Country and then messages from the Mayor Bruce Harwood, Imam Shaykh Mohammad Ramzan of the Islmic community of Geelong and Farhang Afshar from the Geelong Interfaith Network.
Individual prayers were offered by representatives of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu; Hare Krishna and Sikh, Jewish and Muslim communities of Geelong.
The Maori Culture Community of Geelong were represented and, after speaking, performed a musical item and their ceremonial dance the haka.
The event was attended by over 200 people from numerous faith communities in the Geelong region and showed love and consideration for the many people affected by this tragedy.
There was a feeling of unity and friendship amongst those who attended the night.
Below is the message given by Farhang Afshar from the Geelong Interfaith Network:
“I take this opportunity on behalf of the Geelong Interfaith Network to convey our deepest condolences to the Muslim community and in particular those families in New Zealand who have lost their loved ones.
“The message that I wish to convey is that the fundamental purpose of the Faith of God and His religion is to promote the unity of the human race and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men.
“Consequently if we could listen to our own faith and follow our own divine teachings, follow our own holy books and traditions, then, not only can we achieve our inner personal peace and tranquility, almost immediately, but we would also be able to extend it to our surrounding environment.
“We can then see how our own highway of Faith is fundamentally and principally connected to other highways and how together we can move towards a more united, peaceful, and harmonious world.
“This has been prophesied as the period of great peace, or Kingdom of God on earth, or expressed in Indigenous great spirituality as dreaming of the future.
“You may wonder where this conviction and understanding is coming from? It is certainly coming from the luminary divine founders of the Faiths themselves through their sacred books, which have been abundantly available to us through the ages and observable within the pages of human history everywhere.
“In none of these faiths do we learn to hate one another, to disregard and to dismiss, disrespect and belittle each other’s beliefs and practices. In none of these faiths should we aim to build disunity and conflict amongst ourselves, or to denounce and to kill each other, literally or mentally, and then to justify our wrong actions under the name of a religion or to make religion the source of dissent and discord, of hate and enmity.
“On the contrary, we are taught by all the faiths to regard each and every individual as a spiritual and noble being, to strive to establish cooperation, unity, and friendship while having a genuine attitude of mutual respect and compassion for each other. This is what we should practice.
“Krishna appeared about 4000 years ago and emphasized good conduct and morality as the basis of human life.
“Moses, more than 3000 years ago, taught us the Ten Commandments and emphasized protecting our neighbor.
“Zoroaster, about 3000 years ago, taught us to think well, to talk well and to act well.
“Buddha appeared 2600 years ago and taught us to achieve personal virtue, good conduct and principles of morality.
“Jesus, 2000 years ago, taught us love and sacrifice to nurture a spiritual life.
“Prophet Mohammad, 1400 years ago, taught the believers to daily pray for “Ehdena al-saratal al-mostaghim”, O God guide us to the straight path of truth.
“Baha’u’llah, 175 years ago, taught us that the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens, and in the garden of our heart, to plant nothing but the rose of love.
“Under the lights of these teachings of all Faiths, Geelong Interfaith Network strives to work by initiating activities and events to further establish harmony and mutual understanding amongst all members of our community and we invite you whole-heartedly to join us on this journey and to kindly enrich us by your faith, life, understanding and experience.
“Geelong Interfaith Network is delighted and extremely thankful to see the actual real support, focus and commitment of City of Greater Geelong in assisting the community and this Network to achieve its goals.
“We are very grateful to Mayor Harwood and his supportive councillors and competent staff for their continual efforts.
“Thank you for attending this memorial event and God bless you all in your noble endeavours.”