Austria: Interreligious and Intercultural Breakfast
By Maria Pammer, UPF Austria
On March 16th, 2019 inspired by the participation in two interreligious breakfasts which was conducted last year at UPF, Upper Austria the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited us to organize an interreligious breakfast together in their church in Linz, Upper Austria. The theme for this event was “Young Belief – the Young Believe” How do young people arrive from the religious traditions of their parents to their own beliefs?
They prepared a substantial breakfast buffet. And 50 people from 5 different denominations gathered.
After a welcome by Mrs. Gerlinde Merl (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Mrs. Pammer introduced the Universal Peace Federation and handed a peace ambassador document over to Mrs. Merl and Mr. Mehmed Becirbasic of the Bosnian Mosque in Steyr (host of the previous interreligious breakfast).
After all guests had helped themselves from the buffet, six representatives of the different denominations gave a keynote speech on the topic “Young Belief – the Young Believe“.
Mr. Bogdan Pammer (Unification Church) emphasized, that faith, hope and love not only unify mankind with God, but also one generation with the next. We can believe, because the heavenly and worldly parents believe in us. – We can love, because the heavenly and worldly parents love us. – We can hope, because we do have, had, are and will be parents. God with all his omnipotence did not interfere, when Eve and Adam broke the commandment. But after it had happened, God was immediately present. “Where are you Adam?” are the simple words of God, who reach out to the bottom of the ocean and the boundaries of the cosmos.
Mrs. Anna Szabo (Catholic Church in Upper Austria, Interreligious Dialogue) said, that it occurs to her, that parents often cannot hand down to their children the language to express their faith. Teachers and communities can help young people with finding meaning.
Mr. Ali Karadeniz (ALIF, Islamic Religious Community) asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the assassination in New Zealand. He chose the religion of his parents, because religion offers a framework for getting along well together. For him it is important to be at peace with yourselves, to treasure family values and to engage yourselves for a larger group.
Mr. Sabahudin Mujevic (Bosnian Mosque NUR, Linz) underlined, that Christians and Muslims are more linked by values than separated. They further on want to intensify contacts in their community.
Mr. Mehmed Becirbasic (Bosnian Mosque, Steyr) was very touched by the topic “Young Beliefs – the Young Believe” and attested personally how he found back to the faith of his parents. His grandfather was Imam, but he himself forgot his faith after his flight to Austria. A door opener back to faith was the behavior of his father, who did not blame him because of his deviations, but still believed in him.
Mr. Dr. André Merl (bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) emphasized that we are all children of God and therefore brothers and sisters. The assassination in New Zealand has nothing to do with faith, but with hate, the inability to love, fanaticism and the lack of own identity. Founder Joseph Smith said: Believe in heaven and act! To believe means to act. You are not suddenly having faith, it is growing organically. Furthermore we cannot shoulder for the children to find their own faith. There were two important messages in his speech: The Lord works from the inside to the outside -.the world from the outside to the inside. Someone who changes himself can also change the world!
The speeches led to a lively exchange with many touching testimonies of young and elderly and representatives of different denominations.
After two hours of really deep religious exchange and I felt the spirit of God act among us, we were offered a tour through the premises of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Many guests accepted this offer. The kitchen, a playground for children, the big church interior, the room for baptisms and the genealogy center gave us an insight into their active community.