Newsletter December 2023

Kia ora koutou and warmest greetings to our readers and friends of the Religious Diversity Centre in these last days of 2023.… days deeply overshadowed by the sufferings in many places around the globe.
We seek to support those of you who bear grief and sorrow, concern and worry for friends and family far away, and those of you who carry fear and hurt here amongst us in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Looking back at some RDC activities of the year 2023, we take this opportunity to give you a few updates:

The RDC Office
In January 2024, we will be moving from our office in Upper Queen Street to a new office in the Newmarket Remuera Community Centre at 130 Remuera Road, Auckland.
This Community Centre is located behind St Luke’s church and is a busy place with a number of organisations working from there. A large cafeteria is a meeting place for many, and there are meeting rooms where public events can be held. A great bonus is that there is good parking around the building.
We hope to be able to welcome you there next year.

The Religious Leaders Forum
Meeting on 5 December
This year’s annual Religious Leaders Forum meeting was held in St John’s Theological College on its historic site in Meadowbank, Auckland. Welcomed by the Tikanga Māori Dean of the College, the leaders enjoyed a brief outline of the history and life of the College since its beginnings in 1844.

One of the key issues that emerged in the day’s discussions was the important role religious leaders hold in today’s society, especially when they speak in one voice. There was a strong determination to explore ways in which the leaders might express the spirituality and values shared by the diverse religions into national conversations, thus adding a real point of difference. The Leaders agreed to meet again in March to take this discussion further.

Joint Statement from Religious Diversity Centre and Human Rights Commission
The recent Statement published by the Human Rights Commission and the RDC on ‘Roles and Responsibilities of Religious Leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand’ is available on the RDC website.

Religious Studies in Schools
In response to the proposal made by the Religious Leaders Forum in 2019 the Government moved to include the study of religious diversity in the Social Studies curriculum in our NZ primary and intermediate schools, the RDC was asked to work with the Ministry of Education.
The discussions with the Ministry have moved to the point where religious matters can now be included in the teaching of Social Studies where appropriate.
Since this is a new venture for many teachers, the first Professional Development workshop in Religious Diversity has been held for teachers, and the first discussion concerning curriculum has taken place.
This is a truly significant development for our NZ schools.

The RDC Climate Action Network Group
Those readers who endorsed the Call for a Fossil Fuel non-Proliferation Treaty will be pleased to know that the endorsed statement of the Call was sent to the NZ delegation at the UN COP28 Conference and the international organising centre for the Call.
During the UN COP28 Conference, Rod Oram, a noted journalist and member of the RDC Climate Action Group made time to share his observations in interviews that are available on our YouTube channel and on the website.
Please also use the recordings of the successful webinar series ‘E tu te mana o Te Ao, Building a Climate of Hope’.
You can share the link and use the recordings as resources or discussion starters.
Thank you to all of you who have shared their stories on contributing to protecting our environment and mitigating climate change. The collection of stories and photos of activities taken by local religious communities in the face of the challenges of climate change continues to grow.
These stories inspire us all, as we remember what Dr Jane Goodall said in her webinar – Every small action we take matters!

The RDC Religious Diversity Calendar
Have you ordered your copy of our 2024 calendar yet?
For the last few years, the RDC has been producing an iconic and recognisable calendar.
Since 2022 there is a specific theme that carries through the year: Water (2022), Light (2023) – and now we have arrived at the third element: Earth.
The calendar is popular not only as an attractive but also as an educational calendar! In our multi-cultural and multi-religious society, it is helpful to know when the big festivals for our neighbours and work colleagues happen. The calendar is linked to the RDC website in such way that we record video clips that give explanations to the different aspects and practices of the religious communities – or where you can listen to someone who explains what we see on the month’s picture.

Do you know someone who would love to learn about other religions and their dates or who could benefit in other ways from having this beautiful resource in their “kit” ? Think of teachers in schools, especially Social Studies departments, think of those who hold positions within their religion, or the office of a large business or organisation with a culturally diverse staff or workforce.
You can order and pay your calendar online, and it will be posted to you.

The Religious Communities Disaster Resilience Guide
The Disaster Resilience Guide for religious communities was produced by the Auckland Emergency Management with the RDC in a consultation process that drew the diverse local religious communities in various areas of Auckland together.
The RDC was given permission by Auckland Council to work with councils and religious communities to develop the Religious Communities Disaster Resilience Guide for other centres in the country.
We are looking forward to leading the process in further urban areas in the coming year. If you would like to know more about this resilience guide, please listen to the explanations of Rohan Jaduram in a recent video that was also broadcast on the radio or access the resource online.

CRM System
The RDC is now operating with a new cloud-based mail- and database system with its server based in Tauranga. The system will make administrative work more efficient and keep personal data safe. You will see that this email is sent through this new system.
If you would like to be contacted by us, please make sure that we have your correct contact details. At any time, you can update them online.

The RDC – next phase
After seven years of building the foundation of the Religious Diversity Centre, we have now come to a turning point – there is a new stage for the RDC ahead. And there is need to build capacity for that new stage.
There is therefore to be a serious fund-raising drive in the 2024 February – March period. This is why the usual October donations appeal was delayed this year. We will share more information with you in the New Year.

With greetings and best wishes for a peaceful and harmonious year 2024.
The Team at the Religious Diversity Centre