Nearly 150 people from the three Abrahamic faiths got together last Sunday to listen to guests speakers and discuss how Abraham can speak to us today.
It was the 9th Annual Abraham Conference and as in previous years the keynote speaker and respondents were all distinguished scholars.
This year Rev Dr Daniel Madigan SJ was the keynote speaker with his paper "Abraham, His Family and the Baggage We Make Them Carry".
Rev Dr Madigan is an Australian Jesuit priest who is now Director of Graduate Studies at Georgetown University's Department of Theology in the U.S.
Rabbi Paul Jacobson, who along with the others present also believes in the importance of interfaith dialogue and regularly participates on panel discussions with representatives of other faiths, was the Jewish respondent.
And speaking for the Muslim faith was Professor Zeki Saritoprak, founder and former President of the Rumi Forum for Interfaith Dialogue in Washinghton, D.C. and the Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies at John Carroll University.
In introducing his paper, Rev Dr Daniel Madigan said when Jews, Muslims and Christians gather in different parts of the world these days, we are increasingly focussing on Abraham.
"We live in hope that this figure in faith, who holds an important place in each of our traditions, will provide us with a way forward in mutual understanding and honest dialogue with one another," he said.
"Abraham is the cornerstone of our strategy for leaving behind past polemics and moving ahead in mutual respect. We like to say that he is the father of all those who believe in one God."
He went onto say that this exploration of our traditions, like all repentance, is somewhat embarrassing and perhaps a little painful, but we are all in this particular glasshouse together, so it is not a case of throwing stones.
In the conclusion of Rabbi Jacobson's response he said that by looking at Abraham's life we come to truly appreciate that Abraham, as a representative of faith in God, had his strengths, and also his shortcomings.
"And perhaps, through all these episodes, we might learn to become more cognisant of our own strengths and shortcomings, the ways in which our respective faiths encourage us to interact peacefully and harmoniously with one another.
"We must unearth the best of what our traditions have to offer, both ourselves, and others for friendship and for mutual, respectful coexistence."
Prof Zeki spoke of the detailed account of Abraham in the Qu'ran, one of the elite prophets in Islamic teaching.
"What can we learn from Abraham today?" Prof Zeki asked.
"I would say it is the spiritual strength that Abraham had. I think if we are spiritual, and we become a way of that aspect of Abraham, we will be able to share with our neighbours regardless of their religion, regardless of their ethnicity, we will be able to share with our fellow human beings regardless of anything and I think our planet will be a credible brotherhood."
Following the speakers, the audience had the opportunity to discuss the various talks before submitting some comments.
These comments will be available on this website with links to the Affinity Intercultural Foundation and websites of other faiths represented, to continue further discussion.
The full texts of the keynote speaker and the respondents will also be available.
The Inter-religious Abraham Conference organising committee consisted of Affinity Intercultural Foundation; Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations; NSW Board of Jewish Deputies; United Church Synod of NSW/ACT and the Sydney Catholic Archdiocese.