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Interfaith News - Youth PoWR

Sydney’s Youth Model Interfaith Harmony, Justice & Compassion to the World

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Martin Luther King Jr

In early September over 300 young people from diverse faith backgrounds met in Sydney for the largest interfaith event for young people in Australia. Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World’s Religions) saw youth vote on and commit to a message of common and critical concern; ‘Towards a More Compassionate & Just Society’.

Young people were given a platform to air their concerns to their civic and religious leaders. Together, a commitment was made to work across their differences. The youth involved are a living model of interfaith harmony, paving the way in overcoming the old prejudices and building a new world. 

Youth PoWR

Aboriginal, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and no faiths were represented at Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney. Speakers from these eight religions addressed the parliament, inspiring attendees through religious texts and teachings.

In two sitting sessions, they voted on which social, political and environmental issues they want to see civic and religious leaders to take concrete action on. Youth then wrote their own commitments to build more compassion and justice in Australia, by working in harmony with each other.

Youth PoWR

Youth PoWR was paused halfway through proceedings for one minute of silence where, amidst all of their differences, everyone prayed, meditated and reflected together on a shared vision:

“Injustice and indifference cannot flow from the Divine, nor should injustice and indifference flow from any of our religions. Formed by our faiths, we care deeply about poverty, inequality, discrimination, violence, and the wanton exploitation of people, animals and the environment. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to take charge of the change we want to see in the world.”

Results from Youth PoWR show the injustices surrounding Refugees, Racism & Discrimination, Aboriginal Rights and Domestic Violence are most important to young Australians of faith. Other proposals included Poverty, Climate Change, Gender Equality, Mental Health and Religious Freedom.

Youth PoWR

On the day after Youth PoWR, representatives from Christian, Hindu, Jewish &Muslim faiths discussed the social, environmental and political priorities of Australia’s religious youth on ABC Radio’s Sunday Nights. The show has since been aired and podcasted across the world to tens of thousands of listeners.

Youth PoWROn Sunday 18 September, representatives from Baha’i, Christian and Muslim faiths shared in a special Q&A event at the Australian Baha’i Temple’s International Day of Peace Service.

Presentations of the ‘Youth PoWR 2016 Message: Towards a More Compassionate & Just Society’ will be made to a range of Australia’s politicians and religious organisations in the coming months. Many also volunteered on the night to coordinate “Youth PoWR Action Groups” to carry out their commitments of interfaith action.

Youth PoWRRead the quotes from each faith representative

NCCA extends its thanks to Steff Fenton, Networking, Media & Projects Officer, Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations for her assistance with this article.

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