Dean of Grafton, Dr Gregory Jenks speaks at Monday's prayer vigil at Christ Church Cathedral.
Dean of Grafton, Dr Gregory Jenks speaks at Monday's prayer vigil at Christ Church Cathedral.

Muslims reach out to Grafton with hand of friendship

THE Muslim community of Sydney has reached out to Grafton in the aftermath of last Friday's Christchurch terror attack, says a leading local religious figure.

The Dean of Grafton, Dr Greg Jenks, said he has received an email from a church group in Burwood, offering to bring a group of Muslims and Christians to Grafton for a cultural exchange.

"The Anglican Church in Burwood, which is a strong multi-cultural area, has contacted both me and the Bishop by email," Dr Jenks said.

"They have a strong connection with the Muslim community and have offered to bring a group of Muslims and Christians to Grafton.

"They've also said they would like to include some people from the Muslim community in Christchurch in the group."

Dr Jenks said negotiations were in the early stages, but there was already an in-principal agreement from the Bishop for the exchange to take place.

"It has to happen quickly," Dr Jenks said.

"With that in mind we brought it the the Parish Council last night (Wednesday)

"The meeting agreed to accept an offer by a group of Muslims in Sydney to come to Grafton with Muslims from Christchurch for a series of events to be hosted by Grafton Cathedral as part of a meet and greet program to develop positive relationships between the wider community and the small Islamic community in Grafton."

Dr Jenks said he would urge the Clarence Valley Council to direct its energy and resources into establishing a Compassionate Communities arrangement instead of building a monument in the city.

"I'm writing a letter to the mayor today, setting out my thoughts that a compassionate communities approach is a better outcome than building a monument based on an event that happened in another city," he said.

"It would be better to have advertising and signage for tolerance than building any sort of monument."

Dr Jenks said the cathedral would offer the local Muslim community its facilities as a place of worship.

"A member of the local Muslim community has contacted me and said he had immense gratitude for the opportunity," he said.

The parish has also been supportive.

"I am touched by the way that members of the cathedral community have responded to the tragic events in Christchurch," he said.

"We look forward to sharing social events with local Muslims, and we invite them to use our Parish Centre for their Friday prayers and other holy days, if they wish to do so.

"Together we can build a resilient and compassionate Grafton community where love conquers fear."