The Sydney Statement: Building Bridges Between Believers from Different Religions is an interfaith charter for Sydney and beyond. It is inspired by similar interfaith statements from other cities e.g. The Athens Declaration 2015, The Beirut Declaration 2017 and The Washington Declaration 2018. Like those interfaith statements, The Sydney Statement is named after a city. However, it is relevant to NSW, Australia and the world. Among those interfaith statements, The Sydney Statement is unique in that it is led by youth who share their dream for the future.
The Sydney Statement has been developed by Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World’s Religions), a coalition of young adults from different religions. For the last five years, Youth PoWR brought together hundreds of young adults from different religions to meet each other and have a voice and vote in shaping our multicultural, multi-religious society. Youth PoWR is coordinated by a team of young volunteers from different religions, some of them nominated by their religion’s peak state body, who together plan, promote and host its events.
Managing the Project
The Sydney Statement is an interfaith initiative of the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations (CCCMR), in partnership with Western Sydney University (WSU). CCCMR provided the Executive staff who managed and administered the project. WSU provided research into the existing interfaith city statements to produce a template for The Sydney Statement.
The Sydney Statement project was overseen by a Steering Committee of leading representatives from different religions, all of them experienced in interfaith relations, some of the board members of their respective peak state and national bodies.
The Sydney Statement was financially supported by the NSW Government with a COMPACT Grant through Multicultural NSW and underwritten by St Columban’s Mission Society.
In 2019, Youth PoWR held four professionally facilitated consultations in the north, south, east and west of Sydney to generate content for The Sydney Statement. Young adults from different faiths met and shared their answers to the following three questions:
- What is my lived experience-good and bad-of being a person of faith in Sydney?
- What would Sydney be like if it were a place where all people of faith could flourish together?
- What are the concrete steps to get from the present reality to that ideal?
The fruits of their discussions were agreed, shared, collated and prioritised.
In 2020, the Executive matched Youth PoWR’s input with WSU’s research on the interfaith statements from other cities. They consulted the Youth PoWR Coordinating Committee and the Steering Committee on various drafts of The Sydney Statement. When the text was nearing completion, they held an online consultation with the wider Youth PoWR network. They also consulted selected religious leaders, including bishops, imams, a rabbi and several prominent theologians. Each round of consultations led to clarifications, refinements and precision. As evidence of the seriousness, inclusiveness and rigour of the process, 16 drafts preceded the final text of The Sydney Statement!
Youth PoWR held an online launch of the final approved text of The Sydney Statement on 15 October 2020. Like any ‘parliament’ that votes on legislation, the members of the ‘Youth Parliament of the World’s Religions’ voted on The Sydney Statement and authorised its publication.
The Sydney Statement was published on a dedicated website, www.thesydneystatement.org.au, on the 9th of February 2021, where people of all faiths and worldviews can sign up to live by its values and principles and to carry out its commitments to interfaith action for building bridges between believers from different religions. The website also has resources on interreligious dialogue and suggested concrete actions for carrying out the values, principles and commitments of The Sydney Statement.
The short executive version of The Sydney Statement is available as an attractively designed A-1 single-sided poster and an A-4 double-sided poster. The longer explanatory version is available as an A-5 booklet. PDF files of these posters and booklet are available for free download from the website. Professionally printed posters and booklet can also be purchased from the website’s online shop.
Youth PoWR will hold a media launch of The Sydney Statement at the Sydney Town Hall in March 2021. They will invite their peers to join them in committing to and celebrating The Sydney Statement. They will invite the Governor of NSW, the Premier of NSW, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister for Multiculturalism, and other local, state and federal politicians. They will invite religious leaders—bishops, imams, ministers, monks, nuns, rabbis, swamis—to support their interfaith initiative. They will seek maximum exposure for The Sydney Statement on TV, press and social media.
The media launch was planned for the 19th of March 2021. This date is significant for The Sydney Statement. It is the anniversary of the 1932 opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which features on The Sydney Statement logo. The subtitle of The Sydney Statement is “Building Bridges Between Believers from Different Religions”. We hope that this iconic structure that joins Tar-Ra (Dawes Point) and Kiarabilli (Milsons Point) and is an international symbol of Sydney will also become a symbol of building bridges of mutual understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths.
However, the 19th of March 2021 is a Friday. Since Muslims will be at midday prayer at noon, and Jews observing Shabbat from the evening, Youth PoWR will hold the media launch on another day. In this way, they model the type of mutual understanding, respect and cooperation to which they are calling all people.
The Sydney Statement has the potential to transform the interfaith landscape of our city, our state and our country. Youth PoWR invites you to sign up to its values, principles and commitments.
Please share The Sydney Statement with your families, friends and colleagues, so that believers and all people of goodwill can together create a harmonious, peaceful and just multicultural, multi-religious society.
The Executive Team
The Sydney Statement