An Interfaith Friendship Programme was inaugurated at the Trinity Methodist Church in Auckland on 11th April 2016. Its goal was to develop an Interfaith Friendship Group (IFG), which will organise community projects to serve the needy and promote human values in society. Six months previously, the concept, based on Malaysia’s Friendship Group for Inter Religious Service, had been brought forward during a meeting of various local faith groups, with the approval of the Auckland Interfaith Council. The inaugural programme in April included six speakers from different faiths and the SSIO in an interfaith discussion titled, “The Role of Faiths in Creating National Unity and a Caring Society.” A brochure, with quotes from different faiths, was distributed at the event to underscore the fact that Truth is one and indivisible. The event was attended by 129 people, including 37 SSIO members. Leaders of Maori, Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, and Zoroastrian faith groups committed to joining hands to serve the needy and the underprivileged, to elevate the awareness of human values, and to promote respect for parents, elders, children, and the environment – for nation building and societal transformation. The vision for joint action moved members of a local Anglican Church, the Muslim Shia community, a representative of the Baha’i faith, and the National President of the Auckland Interfaith Council to write letters of appreciation to the SSIO of New Zealand, thanking it for developing the joint initiative. The first joint service project by faith groups, in partnership with the local interfaith council and community agencies, is planned to be held on 4th September 2016.
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