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How love grew between Latter-day Saints and members of different faiths in New Zealand


Working side-by-side helped people of different ages, customs and faith traditions find commonality and love for each other in New Zealand. Two examples of this were recently shared in front of a national audience.

New Zealand faith leaders celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week earlier this month with presentations on the theme “Finding Virtue in the Other,” reported New Zealand Newsroom.

Tania Torea, communication director for the Church in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and member of the Wellington Interfaith Council, spoke about when Latter-day Saints worked alongside Muslim and Jewish friends.

The first example came after the Christchurch terrorist attacks in 2019. Hafsa Ahmed, the founder of the Lady Khadija Charitable Trust, learned there were many needs among the Muslim families. Noeline Odgers, a member of the Church, partnered with Ahmed for her “Boxes of Love” initiative. 

Their differences were both compatible and complementary when they focused on what they had in common, explained Torea. “God comes first in their lives and because of their love for God, their hearts are turned to the well-being of others.”

Members of different faiths, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, worked with the Jewish community to sort and clean 1.5 million buttons for a display in the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. The project took two years to complete.

Members of different faiths, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, worked with the Jewish community to sort and clean 1.5 million buttons for a display in the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. The project took two years to complete.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Second, Torea spoke about helping the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. The founder, the late Inge Woolf, wanted to create a button exhibition to remember the 1.5 million children who were killed in the Holocaust.

The buttons had been in storage for many years. Latter-day Saints joined with the Jewish community and other faith groups to organize and clean the buttons. The project took almost two years to complete — but built friendships among the volunteers and brought them together in a special way.

The exhibition can be experienced at Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North, New Zealand, until June 2022.

Torea said: “It’s incredible what happened. As we worked together, our love for one another grew and our respect for one another’s faith traditions deepened. I cherish my friendships.”

Read more on New Zealand Newsroom.

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