Interfaith Forum to focus on spiritual identity in a secular society

‘Spiritual Identity in a Secular Society’ is the theme for the ninth annual National Interfaith Forum taking place in Hamilton this weekend 18-19 February. Six members of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Interfaith Relations will attend, along with two others sponsored by the committee. Dr Mary Eastham, Sharron Cole and Sr Catherine Jones will present at the Forum, which includes the National Youth, Women’s and Men’s interfaith forums.

The powhiri will begin on Saturday at 9am. The first keynote speaker is Dr Anna Halafoff, whose presentation is entitled ‘The Multifaith Movement and Common Security’. Dr Halafoff is a United Nations Alliance of Civilisation global expert in the fields of multifaith relations, religion and peace-building, a Political and Social Inquiry lecturer, and a researcher for the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations.

Chris Nichol is the second keynote speaker and will deliver a presentation called ‘Source for spiritual identity: the secular supermarket’. Mr Nichol has worked in and on the edge of both church and television for most of the last 30 years. He presented the Television ONE series of conversations about New Zealanders' spiritualities, My God (available on DVD), and presently fronts Sunday morning's hymn programme Praise Be.

Session themes include religious diversity in New Zealand; religion and the state; spirituality, health and ecology; Maori spirituality; Women’s leadership and spiritual parenting; Islamic engagement and religious diversity and human rights. There will be a conference dinner on Saturday evening 18 February, which will include music, dance and cultural performances from a diverse range of entertainers.

A multifaith service will be held on Sunday 19 February from 9-10am. It will be led by local and regional faith leaders. The service is open to the public and will be held in the LDS Auditorium at Church College, 435 Tuhikaramea Road, Temple View, Hamilton.

On Sunday 19th February, concurrent sessions of the Annual Youth Interfaith Forum and the Annual Women’s Interfaith Forum will take place. The National Interfaith Forum will also include the first ever National Men’s Interfaith Forum, which will feature former All Black and Waikato Chiefs rugby player Todd Miller. He will discuss the challenges of being a spiritual man as a professional rugby player.

Visit the National Interfaith Forum webpage for more information.