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The Rev’d Br Andrew McKean

Hi, I’m Andrew, and I’ve been an Anglican representative on the Waikato Interfaith Council for a number of years now. I work as the Ecumenical Chaplain at the University of Waikato, and prior to that, I held the same position at Wintec. I’m a perpetual student, with a BA in Philosophy and a BTheol in Christian Thought & History and I’m currently working on a DipGrad in Religious Studies and a GradCert in Spanish. Why Spanish? I got married to Christine a couple of years ago and we spent our honeymoon walking the Camino in northern Spain. One of my future projects is to translate a book about St Francis’ adventures in Spain into English. I enjoy cooking and believe we should cut down on our meetings and put more energy into table fellowship.

Faith Community: Anglican

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Todd Nachowitz

Todd is a Teaching Fellow and Lecturer in the Studies in Religion programme at the University of Waikato, and also the Centre Establishment Coordinator of the Religious Diversity Centre in Aotearoa New Zealand (RDC), with offices in Auckland and Hamilton. Todd received his PhD in diversity policy from the University of Waikato (2015), proposing a new framework for diversity governance, also a BA (1984) in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), and an MA (1991) in Development Anthropology from Syracuse University (New York, USA) on indigenous resistance to large-scale development projects in India and Northern Québec. From 1980, he has spent over a decade living, studying and researching in USA, India, Pakistan and Nepal, working in the fields of anthropology, cross-cultural education, conservation and development, language teaching (Hindi and Urdu), and religious studies. Since December 1995, Todd lives and works in New Zealand. At first he was Academic Director for a US-based undergraduate study-abroad programme in both indigenous studies and environmental conservation, and more recently as a university lecturer. Todd is current Secretary of WIFCO.

Faith Community: Jewish

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Teresa Fernandez Ritchie

Teresa Fernandez was born in India, grew up in Singapore, and came to New Zealand to do her post-graduate studies in 1987. She now lives in Hamilton with her husband and has three children. Her experiences growing up in Singapore that is multicultural and multi-religious gave her exposure to understand and accept people of other faiths and cultures. In fact, often in her growing up years, her group of friends would consist of many ethnicities and religions. She enjoyed this diversity and shared wholeheartedly in the different festivals, foods and norms. Most importantly she loved the diversity of the people and their common humanity. Bring different and being one seemed to be two sides of the same coin. Teresa was appointed by the then Bishop Denis Browne to be his representative on WIFCO in 2014. Later, she was appointed by Cardinal John Dew to be on New Zealand Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations. Teresa gladly accepted these responsibilities as they were in line with her beliefs and her interest in greater dialogue and understanding among faiths. Now, having been in the Interfaith arena for a number of years, she has grown in her respect and regard for interreligious dialogue, understanding, acceptance and love for people of any race or creed. She takes to heart the words of Bishop Browne in his appointment letter, “… help the citizens of Hamilton become more aware of the possibilities of strength that we can enjoy in exploring and supporting each other’s faith”.

Faith Community: Catholic

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Teresa Fernandez Ritchie

Teresa Fernandez was born in India, grew up in Singapore, and came to New Zealand to do her post-graduate studies in 1987. She now lives in Hamilton with her husband and has three children. Her experiences growing up in Singapore that is multicultural and multi-religious gave her exposure to understand and accept people of other faiths and cultures. In fact, often in her growing up years, her group of friends would consist of many ethnicities and religions. She enjoyed this diversity and shared wholeheartedly in the different festivals, foods and norms. Most importantly she loved the diversity of the people and their common humanity. Bring different and being one seemed to be two sides of the same coin. Teresa was appointed by the then Bishop Denis Browne to be his representative on WIFCO in 2014. Later, she was appointed by Cardinal John Dew to be on New Zealand Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations. Teresa gladly accepted these responsibilities as they were in line with her beliefs and her interest in greater dialogue and understanding among faiths. Now, having been in the Interfaith arena for a number of years, she has grown in her respect and regard for interreligious dialogue, understanding, acceptance and love for people of any race or creed. She takes to heart the words of Bishop Browne in his appointment letter, “… help the citizens of Hamilton become more aware of the possibilities of strength that we can enjoy in exploring and supporting each other’s faith”.

Faith Community: Catholic

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Carrie Cornsweet Barber

Here are some of the main words Carrie has provide about herself, and as she cannot find the the proper order, here they are in alphabetical order, She is :  American,  Daughter, Dog Lover, Follower, Friend, Gardener, Hoper, Leader, Mother, Pakeha, Poet, Psychologist, Seeker, Sister, Teacher, Widow. Carrie is a member of the Society of Friends ( Quakers), in Hamilton New Zealand.

 

Faith Community: Society of Friends ( Quaker )

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Rev. Susan Thompson

Susan is a Methodist minister, currently working as Superintendent of the Waikato-Waiariki Synod. Born in Christchurch, she trained for ministry at Trinity College, Auckland and completed doctoral studies in theology at the University of Auckland. Since coming out as a lesbian in ministry in the late-1990s, she has been a pioneer and advocate for the acceptance and equality of LGBTQ people in church and society. Susan lives with her partner Nanette in Hamilton.

 

Faith Community  Methodist

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Louis Paulussen

Louis grew up in the Netherlands in a nearly 100%  Catholic part of the country, attended Catholic kindy, primary and high schools. Religious education during the last years at high school awakened his interest in other Christian denominations, other religions and non religious philosophy. Louis studied engineering at the University of Technolgy in Eindhoven and worked in the manufacturing industry until his retirement from paid employment in 2014. In the 1980's and early 90's  Louis was involved in ecumenical groups first in Zeist in the Netherlands and later in Hamilton (he emigrated with his family to New Zealand in 1987). In the Netherlands he was a representative at the local World Council of Churches and in Hamilton for two years a member of the Hamilton Council of Churches

In the early 90's  the course "Walk by Faith" and the shift to Te Pahu set him on a different path and became actively involved in the local Te Pahu Inter-Denominational Community Church and he now is a member of the St. Stephen's Presbyterian Parish in Hamilton as well. A chance meeting again awakened his interest in other religions and he joined WIFCO in 2010.

Faith Community: Christian

Faith Community: Christian

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Jovi Abellanosa

In 2008  Jovi came to New Zealand from the Philippines where she was a university lecturer. Joined Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust in 2009 where she was Relationships Manager and also coordinated Settlement Support. She left in 2013 to join Hamilton City Council as Ethnic Development Advisor. Jovi has relationships and understanding of the ethnic communities residing in Hamilton and works to promote the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of communities. She is passionate about people and she is involved in helping others settle and start new lives. Her work supports and promotes cultural diversity in Hamilton. She is involved in the Kirikiriroa Human Rights Network and the Indigo Gathering of Cultures Festival Trust.

Communuty Ethnic Development Advisor, Hamilton City Counci

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Mylene Rakena

Tena koutou katoa

It is honour to serve in WIFCO and share knowledge and friendship with amazing people who each share a piece of our hearts with each other. Part of my role in the Council as a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is to help people better understand who we are and what we believe. Also to help build relationships with community and faith leaders, forming a vital bridge between our congregations and the communities we call home.  The Council provides an important pathway to developing understanding and consciousness of commonalities of faith that we all share.  

Faith Community: Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints

 

Faith Community: Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints

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Pam Chiles

Pam grew up in the King Country of New Zealand. She went to the University of Waikato to study psychology and philosophy. At that time she met travelling Buddhist teachers and was very inspired by their methods. She took up meditation and then proceeded to do the foundation practices of Tibetan Buddhism. She practiced in various Buddhist traditions in New Zealand including Zen in Nelson, meditation in the Thai tradition in Wellington as well as in the Tibetan tradition at centres in Colville, Auckland, Kaukapakapa, Tasman and near Tairua. She then went to Japan, and was an English teacher to save up to do an extended retreat in India. She lived in Japan for ten years and for short times was able to do retreats there. Then she lived in India for twelve years and for most of that time was in retreat. She took trips to England, Scotland and Sri Lanka and did retreats there as well. She returned to New Zealand in 2018 and since then has been the Buddhist representative for WIFCO.

Faith Community: Buddhist

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Kathy Faulele

Kathy grew up mostly in Pakuranga, Auckland.  Her mother was the third person in New Plymouth to declare her belief in the Baha’i Faith in 1951. For the first few years of her life, Kathy’s parents lived in parts of New Zealand where her mother was the only Baha’i; until 1966 when they moved to Pakuranga and there was a small group of Baha’is in Manukau City.  Kathy was taught the pivotal teachings of the Baha’i Faith from an early age.  Those teachings revolve around the oneness of humanity and the importance of justice and unity in diversity, in order to bring about peace in the world.  Kathy has dedicated her professional life to working with young children as a kindergarten teacher, in many different parts of New Zealand.  In her spare time, she likes to be involved with the Programme for the Spiritual Education of Children, which is a Baha’i Programme offered to the world wide community.  Kathy now lives with her husband in Hamilton. They have four adult children and six grandchildren.

 

Faith Community: Baha'i

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Scotty Cranwell

Raised in a Charismatic Pentecostal Christian household with a background in Christian theology and apologetics, Scotty personally identifies as a Unitarian Universalist; a movement that best represents his outlook and practices regarding inclusivity and community action. 
With his degree in Music and a grad.dip in Secondary School Teaching, Scotty has been a part of the Waikato Itinerant Music Scheme for 13+ years. In applying his musical background to a religious community setting, Scotty is enjoying his new role as the choir director for the WIFCO choir. Outside of work, in a personal application of his U.U. identity, Scotty likes to seek opportunities to serve the community.
He is currently volunteering with Poverty Action Waikato, a research based group raising awareness around local issues of economic inequality. Scotty is also volunteering alongside the Sathya Sai Baba community in Hamilton, who provide community meals on Tuesday evenings.
And he is also a member of the St. Peters mens cooking roster, who provide Saturday night dinner for the men at the Hamilton Christian Night Shelter.


Faith Community: Unitarian Universalist 

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Sylvie Rabinovitch Bolstad

Sylvie was one of the founding members of WIFCO in 1994. Originally from a multicultural and multi-faith community in Montreal Canada, she emigrated to NZ with her husband in 1971 and both their children were born in and grew up in Hamilton. She is an artist, educator and community project facilitator and the Founder / Director of Artmakers Community Artists Trust, Hamilton.  As an artist, educator and storyteller Sylvie believes that our aspirations for peace and coexistence are best expressed through creative processes - telling inspiring personal stories, studying ancient & modern texts, creating art, music & performances. Her professional life has been dedicated to community development through the arts, in particular working with young people and children. She believes that we must invest in the next generation by helping them to recognise the power of addressing the big questions of existence, by accepting the richness of diversity, and learning to harmonise our differences for the common good.

Faith Community: Jewish