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Hawke's Bay Mormons and Friends Celebrate Diversity at Interfaith Event

'We celebrated our commonalities while learning to respect our differences'

On 23 May, the Hawke’s Bay Interfaith Committee hosted an event held at Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) in Napier.

Jessica Hedge, Duke-Smith-Holley and Shimul Islam were featured speakers on the topic: “My Spiritual Journey.”

Jessica reflected on her experience in Tonga where for three months she was a teacher’s aide at an Anglican school.

Tonga was hit by Cyclone Gita her first week there. She took refuge in a Latter-day Saint chapel and expressed appreciation for the service offered her there. She also was engaged in service to people who were affected by the storm.

Of her experiences in Tonga, Jessica said, “I learned to follow the Spirit and do as the Saviour would have me do, rather than what I wanted to do.”


Duke Smith-Holley spoke of serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Botswana, South Africa where for two years he served the locals and taught the messages of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He learned through his experience in Africa that “God will never leave you alone.”

Shimul Islam, a member of the Muslim faith, migrated with his family from Sri Lanka to New Zealand when he was eight-years old.

He spoke to those in attendance about what it was like growing up in New Zealand as a Muslim. “As your body needs food, your soul needs faith.”

All speakers agreed that it was the people they met and worked with that made their experiences great.

Hastings District Councilor, Bayden Barber, was in attendance.

“It is good to see that no matter where you are in the world, faith can unite people, breaking language and cultural barriers,” he said.

LDS director of public affairs in Hawke’s Bay, Anna Wairama, said, “The event was a great opportunity for us all to come together to celebrate our commonalities while learning to respect our differences.”

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