People of many faiths gathered on 22 March at St Luke’s Anglican Church in Wallsend to participate in the first Interfaith Forum event of the year, with the speaker being Fr Andrew Eaton, the parish priest of St Luke’s. Fr Andrew presented on the theme ‘Our Faiths and Prayers’ from an Anglican perspective.
The evening began with an invitation to ponder the significance of sharing stories verbally, as do the Awabakal people, the traditional custodians of the land where we were gathering. This was followed by an acknowledgement of country.
Fr Andrew began his talk by outlining his background; his Catholic upbringing, his seven years’ experience in the ministry, six of which were in Victoria, and being married with two girls.
He said that the Anglican Church doesn’t have a single spiritual leader, like the Pope, to give direction Anglicans look to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he has no power over an Anglican church in Newcastle, for instance. Anglicans are encouraged to disagree and debate with each other about doctrine and dogma. While each diocese is therefore unique in this regard, a commonality within the Anglican church is the use of The Book of Common Prayer (1662). The book is both a language foundation and a prayer foundation. Thomas Cranmer, a major contributor to the 1662 English version, was a former Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary – by whose order he was burned at the stake for treason. Thomas was blessed with a poetic gift and wrote in a common language that was accessible to and pray-able by everyone – sharing the knowledge of scripture with all.
Fr Andrew went on the explain the significance of prostrating during prayer and worship and the different forms of prostration across various faith traditions. This was a popular discussion point between attendees when they broke into small groups of four or five to reflect on the topics Fr Andrew shared and to discuss their own experiences of prayer.
Following the small group conversations, there was an opportunity for a Q&A session with Fr Andrew and conversations continued over supper.
There are three more events to come in the Interfaith Forum series, all are welcome, for more information, please click here.