Written by Heather Abramson

On the evening of Thursday August 25, the Queensland Forum for Jews, Christians and Muslims held another of its annual concerts. As we have come to expect, the night was a delight and warmly enjoyed by all who attended.

Our MC for the night, our own Reverend Canon Richard Tutin opened the night with an acknowledgement of the traditional owners, “who have walked and cared for this land for thousands of years and their descendants who maintain these spiritual connections and traditions.”

Wisdom College’s Junior Choir and the Australian International Islamic College (AIIC) Choir then led us in Advance Australia Fair. Wisdom College’s Junior Choir also treated us to a really joyful rendition of “I am Australian” written by Bruce Woodley of the Seekers. It is a song written in 1987, but the young voices and smiling faces of the children in the choir made it absolutely fresh and current again.

Cantor David Bentley, from the Jewish tradition, then performed a series of prayers from the Jewish High Holy Days services, and explained the meanings of the prayers. He chose to do these because the High Holy Day period, starting with Jewish New Year, is due to begin soon. A Cantor is a prayer leader in the Jewish tradition, whose job it is to lead the congregation in melodious prayer.

Our first musicians from the Christian tradition were a duet, Taniesha Purnell and Kirra Lang, from Canterbury College Choir. They sang “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)” a modern blend of the two songs. Then we heard from Angela Karac and Alla Yarosh, who sang, “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher. The last item from Canterbury College Choir was “Here I Am To Worship” a song from the Hillsong Church. All four girls performed. The audience was really transported by the wonderful voices and inspired performances of these delightful senior students, who had done the musical arrangements themselves.

Next we heard from David and Yvonne Ireland. They accompanied themselves with keyboard and guitar and sang for us, How Great Is Our God/How Great Thou Art, a medley, then The Great Southland and Christ Be All Around Me – All Sons and Daughters.

In the final segment we heard some Islamic music. Imam Ghazaleh recited Quran Surah Maryam. He translated it first and in doing so, educated his audience about the Quranic reading of the Immaculate Conception and the Birth of Jesus. I couldn’t help noticing the similarities in the musical delivery of the Quranic verses and the Jewish prayers. Both were sung by men with beautiful voices who could delve deeply into the meanings of their words and sing with passion, without any instrumental accompaniment.

The whole audience smiled when the grade 3-4 students of Wisdom College came back on stage to join with Imam Ghazaleh in performing The 99 Names of Allah.

Two students, Misha Mehmet and Loulya Karime, joined with Imam Ghazaleh to sing Every Night and Every Day, a song about acknowledging the Oneness of God in all that we do.

Imam Ghazaleh then finished the Islamic part of the evening with one more prayer.

To conclude the night, Reverend Heather Griffin led us in a new song, which she learned at the World Parliament of Religions, held in October 2015 in Utah, USA. The song had three words only; PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM. The words all have the same meaning of course, in English, Arabic and Hebrew. A recording of the song was played, so it was very easy for everyone to join in. It felt like a marvelous way to end the performances and I hope that it becomes an annual tradition.

As always, great entertainment was followed by great food. Gail Paratz had baked some lovely cakes, including three stands of iced cupcakes. Well, they were an amazing success with the children! All cupcakes disappeared in record time. Our member, Sultan Deen, who always makes two huge curries, one with meat and one vegetarian, made those for us on the day that he was leaving to go to Saudi Arabia for the Haj. What a special act of love. I think the curries and rice tasted especially good because of Sultan’s huge effort.The spicy and sweet were balanced out, as usual, with lovely fresh fruits and nuts provided by our Christian members.

Thanks to all who spoke, performed, attended, cooked and cleaned up. A special note of thanks to Derek Griffin, who set up the audio and visual equipment and recorded the night for us. We would be lost without your work, Derek.

Special thanks also to our co-hosts, Brian Adams, Ricky Lashand, Natasha Hoppner and all the wonderful staff at the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue (CICD), Griffith University. The Forum is grateful to be able to hold this annual event at the CICD and for the wonderful support provided on the night.


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