Murray Lobley, a Melbourne member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been long involved in building bridges between faiths. The Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship has recently appointed him to the Gippsland Regional Advisory Council of the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
The title may be long, but so have been the years Murray has dedicated to the City of Greater Dandenong Interfaith Network, and to the multiple other organisations modelled after it that have sprung up across the continent.
Murray and his wife, Judy, along with four other members of the Church, recently joined state and local government officials and representatives of eight other faiths in laying the groundwork of the new Gippsland Multifaith-Interfaith Network. The Mormon representatives’ emphasis on involving young generations in interfaith activity was especially appreciated.
Having been a part of many such “launches,” Murray views the multi-faith councils that now dot Victoria with deep satisfaction. He has been a convener and consultant to most of them, and continues to do so.
Interfaith networks, or councils as they may be called, are established on the belief that differing faiths share some common elements, notably a belief in a Deity and a requisite to live in harmony with other people. The organisations bring their members together in community service and culture sharing events.
Murray and several other Mormons were active players in the recent Monash Interfaith Festival--organizing, presenting, speaking on values, and getting the full-time missionaries to help the participants with their displays.
Mormon Newsroom states: “A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is one of the hallmarks of Mormonism. From the earliest days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith elevated the principle of religious liberty and tolerance: ‘We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may’” (Articles of Faith 1:11).
President Deiter F. Uchtdorf, of the First Presidency of the Church, said, “We honour and respect sincere souls of all religions. We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters.”
Mr. Lobley has been dedicated to sustaining that embrace. Referring to the tragic tsunami in Southeast Asia, which affected many families in Victoria, and to the 2009 bushfires, he remarked, “The interfaith community came together to mourn the loss and to celebrate a religious outpouring to heal the grief.”
Murray explains that such healing is possible if bridges of understanding have been built before the crisis happens. That is what motivates him and other Mormons to reach out to their neighbours of other faiths.
Speaking of the Greater Dandenong Interfaith Network, housed in Springvale, Victoria, Murray says, “The city is unique in Australia as far as its multiculturalism is concerned. Faith traditions accompany a tremendous ethnic variation here--expressed in over 150 languages.”
In the Church, Murray has served as a branch president, a district president, a stake president (a stake is similar to a diocese), and the president of the Melbourne Australia Temple.
Banner Photo: courtesy of The City of Greater Dandenong Interfaith Network (Murray Lobley far left)
Inset: Murray and Judy Lobley