EVENT: The Religious Diversity Centre hosts training workshop with Prof Paul Weller on religious diversity and anti-discrimination.

Monday 12 March 2018, 10.00am – 3.30pm
The Religious Diversity Centre
University of Otago House, 385 Queen Street, Auckland City

This workshop will be led by Dr Paul Weller. Paul has extensive experience and leadership in multicultural, multireligious UK society, as well as more widely in Europe. He is currently:

  • Professor, Centre for Trust, Peace & Social Relations, Coventry University
  • Research Fellow in Religion & Society, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford
  • Emeritus Professor, Centre for Social, Cultural & Legal Research, University of Derby

Prof Weller is experienced in the innovative and holistic approach of the European ‘Belief-o-rama’ training programmes that aim to contribute to social cohesion within contemporary society. The methods are highly interactive and not only bring participants into better personal consciousness about the issues, but also encourage and support personal responsibility towards creative inclusive environments.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Facilitate dialogue and sharing of experiences in the area of religion and culture
  • Explore the meaning, impact and issues of religious diversity in Aotearoa-New Zealand
  • Enable participants to recognise contemporary manifestations of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination related to religion
  • Develop individual skills for creating inclusive intercultural environments.

The Religious Diversity Centre invites people of religion, faith, belief systems, and those with a secular or no faith background that are interested in issues of religious diversity.

Registration fee: $30 for this 5.5 hour workshop. Lunch will be provided. You can register and pay for this workshop here:

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EVENT: Reformation 500 Conference – Commemorating 500 years of the Protestant Reformation

The Reformation 500 Conference was held in Hamilton, New Zealand, at the Meteor Theatre and St Peter’s Cathedral from 29 – 31 October 2017. For more information, please visit the Conference’s website at <https://reformation500nz.wordpress.com>.

The 1517 Reformation was arguably one of the major game changers in Western and World History and has had huge implications for the South Pacific. The Reformation had an impact on much human activity and thought. We, a group of New Zealand-based scholars and artists with a keen interest in the intersection between religion and society, took a closer look at the Reformation and its legacies.

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the 1517 Reformation we  organised a series of workshops, presentations, exhibitions and other events with a view to exploring the nature and impact of the Reformation on our communities. This exploration accommodated a broad and inclusive range of contributions.

Being ourselves of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, we encouraged a wide spectrum of participations. We engaged in a dialogical process that enriched our understanding of the ongoing significance of (re-)formative ideas and practices in religion and society.

Reformation and the Arts
We will create spaces for artistic presentation and discussion including concerts, exhibitions, performances and a poetry competition.

Organising Team:
Rev Br Andrew McKean (Local Organiser)
Dr Norman Franke (Program Chair for Reformation and the Arts)
Dr Rowland Weston (Program Chair for Rethinking the Reformation)
Annika Hinze (Social Media & Communications)
Dr Rachael Griffiths-Hughes (Music, University of Waikato)
Dr Todd Nachowitz (Religious Studies, University of Waikato)
Dr Colm Mckeogh (Political Science, University of Waikato)For more information contact:
Dr Norman Franke: <frankebowell @ gmail.com> ‘Reformation and the Arts’
Dr Rowland Weston: <rowland09 @ outlook.com> ‘Rethinking the Reformation’

EVENT: Dr Tomek Wiśniewski presents “Polish-Jewish History: A Christian Documentary filmmaker’s view on remembering the Holocaust”

Sunday 27 August 2017, 6:00-7:30pmRDC Centre, University of Otago House, 385 Queen Street, Auckland

Over several decades, Dr Tomek Wiśniewski has meticulously documented Polish-Jewish history, has written numerous books and articles and produced a number of documentary films on the subject. He has worked tirelessly, as he puts it, ‟to ensure the past is not forgotten”.  As well as teaching himself Hebrew, Dr Wiśniewski also speaks several other languages, including Esperanto, and authored a book about its founder, Jewish Bialystoker Ludwik Zamenhof.  Tomek pioneered the documentation of Jewish cemeteries in shtetls of the Podlasie region of Poland, including several thousand photographs of Jewish gravestones, along with those of Catholic, Muslim and Christian Orthodox faiths. This comprehensive research material can be viewed on <www.bagnowka.pl>, a website named after the Bialystok district of Poland, which contains the largest Jewish cemetery in north-east Poland, alongside Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran (Protestant) cemeteries – all visible reminders of the region’s rich multicultural heritage nearly obliterated by the Holocaust. That these lie peacefully next to each other in Bagnówka provides a potent symbol of what Tomek is seeking to achieve in the spirit of partnership and tolerance, as illustrated in his short films.

Tomek has been committed to honouring and documenting, through photography, books and film, the history of the Jewish people in Poland and their cultural legacy. Many Jews around the world can trace their ancestry back to Poland and especially Bialystok, the major city of eastern Poland. Tomek lives in Bialystok and regularly guides visitors from around the world with roots in Bialystok.

Before World War II, Bialystok’s population was more than 60% Jewish, giving it the highest concentration of Jews of any city in the world. An estimated 200,000 Jews from the Bialystok region were murdered, including those taken to nearby Treblinka. Today, only about half a dozen Jews live in the city, which was largely rebuilt after heavy destruction in the war. Tomek has intimate knowledge of this history and with his professional journalism background will captivate his audiences in New Zealand.

A talented screenwriter, cameraman, editor and director, Dr Wiśniewski produces moving and informative works, all on a tight budget, and is currently focused on documenting elderly Poles reminiscing about their country prior to 1939. Much of Tomek’s work is available via the YouTube channel <youtube.com/user/bagnowka7>  which has two thousand subscribers and has been visited over three million times. Some of his films can be viewed at: <https://youtu.be/OvrXFjzOz8E>.  Others:Bialystok without the Jews: <www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZChkNTan18k>An old man reminisces: <www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXChbtRCAV0>.

Tomek was born 1958 in Olsztyn, Poland (his mother was born nearby in Vilnius, present day Lithuania; father born near Krakow).

For more information on this event please email rdc@rdc.org.nz.

EVENT: Professor Douglas Pratt speaks on “Religious Fundamentalism and Extremism”

Monday 26 June 2017, at the Religious Diversity Centre, University of Otago House, 385 Queen Street,  Auckland, in the RDC’s classroom, 7:00-9:00pm.  This Seminar is open to the public with a $10 koha. For more information please contact the RDC at <info@rdc.org.nz>.

Prof. Douglas Pratt

Professor Pratt holds appointments as Adjunct Professor (Theology & Interreligious Studies) at the University of Bern, Switzerland, Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Waikato, and Adjunct Associate Professor (Research) in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. A former President of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (AASR) and the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions (NZASR), Professor Pratt is the New Zealand Associate of the Australian-based UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations – Asia Pacific. He is also an Associate of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Doug’s areas of expertise are: Christianity, Islam, Christian-Muslim relations and dialogue, religious fundamentalism, religion and terrorism, religious diversity and interfaith engagement.

EVENT: Interfaith Social Justice Theology Seminar

Wednesday 14 June 2017, Te Ara Hou, 100 Morrinsville Rd., Hamilton. This Seminar is jointly sponsored by the Anglican Action Centre for Social Justice, the Religious Diversity Centre (RDC), the Waikato Interfaith Council (WIFCO) and the University of Waikato Islamic Studies Group. This Seminar is free and open to the public.

While different religious and secular traditions hold unique and distinct doctrines, they also share some very powerful values. Social justice is one such value that can bring together people of all faiths and no faith to join forces and make the world a more just and humane place for this generation and generations to come. In this light Anglican Action’s Centre for Social Justice, in conjunction with the Religious Diversity Centre, the Waikato Interfaith Council, and the University of Waikato Islamic Studies Group, is holding a seminar on ‘The Theology of Social Justice’ aiming to bring experts from different religious backgrounds together to discuss the particular social teachings of a variety of faith and belief traditions, with the possibility of joining forces to take a joint action in promoting social justice both locally and globally. This first seminar (of an expected series of seminars) will focus on the particular theologies of social justice from among a variety of traditions and their implications for our time.

This seminar is free and open to the public.  Prior registration is not required although an RSVP would be appreciated for catering purposes. Morning Tea is being provided by Anglican Action. Times listed are approximate. To RSVP, or for additional information, please contact Dr Mortaza Shams at <mortaza@anglicanaction.org.nz>.