Our Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Council members have just had a wonderful time at the Newcastle Lord Mayor's Prayer Breakfast held on Friday 3rd June.

We gathered, with many other Christians, from different churches, and prayed together for our City, for our Region.

Such a gathering was a reminder of the different expressions of Christian faith that are represented in this area. We would all accept basic Creedal statements of Christian Faith but would emphasise some aspects more than others. These differences would also be reflected in styles of worship. Some of these differences can lead to misunderstandings among people of Faith.

Most members of our Ecumenical and Interfaith Council are Catholics. Two of us are not. One is from a Community Church. I am a Uniting Church Minister. My story is that my late husband, Warren, was Catholic., and I still attend Mass in our Catholic Parish, All Saints Blackbutt South, at Kotara. I also attend a weekday Eucharist at Christchurch Cathedral. Members of the Council are driven by looking for opportunities to find answers to the question, 'What can we learn from each other?'

We are providing another opportunity for you to learn about other Christian traditions.

We have organised a 'Church Crawl', visiting 4 Churches in one day, Saturday 23 July! At each Church, their Clergyperson will invite you to enter into their Church, hear about their theology and you can ask all those questions you have wanted to ask about styles of worship, theology, and what makes their Church different--all in 45 minutes!

So we begin with Christchurch Cathedral in the City of Newcastle, at 9.30am. Dean Katherine Bowyer will share the fascinating story of the Cathedral and its early site connections to First Nations People. After morning tea there, we drive to Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton and Father John Lovell will be speaking with us.

Lunch will follow, it's a chance to share with other pilgrims on this exploration journey.

After lunch, we discover the Lutheran Church which is at Broadmeadow. Pastor Mathew Vonstanke has been in Newcastle since 2019 and is the only Lutheran Minister here. You will discover that, although the Community is relatively small here, it is very strong in other states, partly to do with past patterns of migration.

We then meet Father James Carles from the Russian Orthodox Church at Wallsend, who is looking forward to meeting us and answering your questions. There are also other Orthodox Churches in Newcastle of varied sizes, driven by the variety of past ethnic migration patterns. Some of the congregations depend on priests who live away from the local area.

Spending 45 minutes in each Church will hopefully mean that we will have some more answers to our questions, but more questions that come out of our conversations with fellow pilgrims, and that is a good place to be.

Hopefully, the Church Crawl (register here online at no cost) will encourage you and other pilgrims to look at our busy Calendar, both in the Ecumenical and Interfaith space, and our activities later this year, like meeting with the Hindu Community at Cardiff North, BBQ for Christians and Muslims at Singleton.

The Newcastle Lord Mayor's Prayer Breakfast was an opportunity for the Ecumenical and Interfaith Council of the Diocese of Maitland Newcastle, to meet with Christians of different denominational backgrounds. And to come to this gathering, asking, not how we can change each other, but what we can learn from each other.

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Reverend Christine Sheppard OAM Image
Reverend Christine Sheppard OAM

Christine Sheppard OAM is the Chairperson, Ecumenical and Interfaith Council, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.