Wellington Interfaith Council Discussed Death, Faith and Culture

  • 8 July 2012

Dr. Ben Gray, (Presbyterian, Member St. Andrews On the Terrace), Paramjit Singh (Sikh), Peter Thomson, (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day ​Saints), Anne Heynes (Soka Gakkai International, Buddhist), Fred Albert (Progressive Jewish Synagogue). 



As part of the City and Sea Museum's Death and Diversity exhibition in April, the Wellington Interfaith Council came together to discuss death and related matters.

Energetic dialogue took place with panellists from six faiths who discussed death, the afterlife, and grief—and the impact that culture and faith have on people as they deal with death. Panellists represented Presbyterian, Sikh, Latter-day Saint, Soka Gakkai International (Buddhist), Progressive Jewish, and Hindu faiths.

Coordinator of the activity, Dr. Pushpa Wood, said, “This was a unique opportunity for people of different faith and cultural traditions to share their understanding of death and their response to grief. This workshop created a positive platform for people to openly share their personal experiences. It was encouraging to see active participation from an audience with a broad cross-section of faiths and ethnic backgrounds.”

Latter-day Saint, Peter Thomson said, “There was a lot of discussion on how faith helps us cope with the grief associated with the death of a loved one. The views expressed were well received. We all learnt from each other.”

Museums Wellington Director, Brett Mason, said, “Every culture has customs and rituals that are turned to at the time of a death. By getting to know these practices, we can get to the sense of identity and belonging of various ethnic community groups, and the changes they've made since their arrival in New Zealand.”


PHOTO CREDIT: Image courtesy of Tom McVey and used with permission.