Look after family, churches urged
The call came from former race relations conciliator Greg Fortuin at the inaugural public meeting of the council in Hamilton yesterday.
"So often we get so busy doing our religious activities that we neglect the humanity side," he said.
"Just find one young person and be a mentor -- it might just save a life."
Mr Fortuin chairs the Wellington-based Youth Suicide Trust. His involvement began after a neighbour's son committed suicide.
"I wish I could wave a magic wand and do one thing to help (stop youth suicides)," said Mr Fortuin.
Restoring a sense of community was a start, he said.
"We don't even know the names of the neighbours' children any more. . . It is about the restoration of those little things which once made us human beings.
"We need to start fighting the battle in our homes, schools and churches. It's good to be reminded we can all make a difference."
Mr Fortuin announced earlier this year that he would not seek reappointment as conciliator after a row broke out over his ill- advised attempt to mediate between the warring factions of the Alliance. He finished officially last week.
The Interfaith Council is made up of representatives from several Waikato religious groups including Anglicans, Baha'i, Catholics, Mormons, Hindus, Jews, Methodists, Muslims, Presbyterians, Quakers, Sikhs and Buddhists.
It was established more than five years ago when Waikato University director of religious studies Douglas Pratt was asked by then-Mayor Margaret Evans to establish a group to represent the community.
The council's role is to foster good relations between all religions, co-ordinate action on religious issues and relationships to society at large, and act in an advisory capacity.
-- Mary Anne Gill
©Copyright 2002, Waikato Times (New Zeland)