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Auckland 'Women of Worth' Gathering Inspires Unity and Understanding

On September 9, 2018, around 300 people attended a “Women of Worth” interfaith devotional in the Auckland suburb of Panmure.

This was the second year the New Zealand Panmure Stake public affairs team from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted the event.

At least eight different faiths were represented including women, youth and young adults.

Among invited guests and speakers in attendance included Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki MP; Josephine Bartley, the first Pasifika woman elected to the new super-city Auckland Council; and Maria Meredith, a member of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board.

Introducing the evening, Leah Broughton-Couch, interfaith specialist from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reminded the gathering “that by meeting together as different faiths we are not watering down our faith, but rather finding strength and inspiration from each other as an interfaith sisterhood.”


She also quoted the Rev Victor H. Kazanjian, who stated: “Religious and cultural diversity is a blessing and not a curse. It is a deeper understanding of the world, never a threat to the legitimacy of one’s own faith or beliefs.”

Speakers from eight different faiths shared their stories and experiences that demonstrated how their faith helps and anchors their lives and gives them strength and power to face adversity. All shared expressions of gratitude for God and their faith.

Josephine Bartley encouraged women to remember their worth and to not settle for anything less.

Shenaaz Desai, a Muslim woman, a midwife and lactation consultant, spoke of her family’s migration to Aotearoa from Zimbabwe more than 20 years ago.

She spoke of the struggles experienced growing up, and then settling into a new country. She said it was the strength and power of her faith that “got her through.”

Shenaaz commented that the interfaith devotional was much, much more than she expected. For many women, it was their first time in a Latter-day Saint chapel. Shenaaz said she felt very warmly welcomed and embraced.

Many lingered afterwards to chat and catch up over supper. Deacon Frances Hafoka of the Tongan Methodist Church spoke of her love for working with those who are neglected and feel unloved.

She commented that as a faith sisterhood “we are stronger together than we are alone.”

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