At a Graduation ceremony on 16 December 2021, Rev. Dr Manas Ghosh was conferred the title of Community Fellow, in ‘Recognition of his contribution to Social Justice, Peace, and Harmony in Western Sydney’. He was also asked to present the Occasional Address at the Graduation Ceremony.
“It was unexpected and I was totally surprised,” Rev. Dr Ghosh said.
“I felt both honoured and humbled and I thank God for it and dedicate this honour to him and share the honour with my colleagues and fellow pilgrims for their love, prayers, help, support and encouragement.”
“When I found that I have also been asked to give the Occasional Address at the Graduation Ceremony and was informed that the previous speakers included the Governors and Premiers of NSW, and famous sports personality like Ian Thorpe, I was nervous. Anyway, it was a great privilege and pleasure, and again I felt honoured and humbled to be asked to give the address.”
The award was given in, “Recognition of my contribution to Social Justice, Peace and Harmony in Western Sydney,” he said.
“During my ministry at Leigh Memorial Church in Parramatta, which is a vibrant multicultural and multireligious city, I exploited every opportunity to build relationship with people from all cultures, all faiths and no faith through many initiatives like the International Day of Peace Services, Community Peace Dinners celebrating Christmas, Remembrance Services whenever there was a tragedy of mass killing by terrorists and natural disaster (Terrorist attacks in Paris, Christchurch, Colombo; Bushfire in NSW etc.), visitation of places of worship of other faiths and other Christian denominations and entering into discussions and sharing meals with them; involving different faith communities to Parramatta Mission’s charitable works.”
“All these initiatives brought the community together and helped forge friendly relationships.”
“I also worked with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, visiting them at Villawood Detention Centre and helping them settle in this new country once they were released to live in community. Worked with groups in Western Sydney against domestic violence.”
In 2015 when Australia witnessed the first terrorist act in Parramatta, Leigh Memorial Uniting Church worked to build closer ties with the Parramatta Mosque to diffuse tension and build up harmony. Rev. Dr Ghosh said he had many meetings with then-President of the Mosque, the late Neil El Kadomi, and had coffee with him outside coffee shops so the community could see that they were friends.
According to Rev. Dr Ghosh, faith organisations including Hindu, Sai Group, Islamic Schools, and an Islamic Charity Organisation have visited Leigh Memorial and worked with the church’ program, offering practical help to help the homeless and the poor.
When Western Sydney University opened its Parramatta City Campus, Leigh Memorial Uniting Church was the closest church, building the relationship with the university.
“Besides chaplaincy work by Rev. Dr Amelia Koh Butler, as the Minister of Leigh Memorial we offered spiritual/ pastoral care and practical help to many students especially migrant and overseas students,” Rev. Dr Ghosh said.
“We had the great joy of having the Chancellor of the university as the keynote speaker at one of our International Day of Peace services. Students and academics form the university have also participated in Peace Services.”
“We also organised Iftar Dinner and the Abraham Conference in the university’s auditorium. This relationship helped the Parramatta Mission in receiving a carload of Christmas gifts from the university one year for needy families and children.”
“It has been a great pleasure to serve as the minister of Leigh Memorial Church and thus being able to serve the wonderful community of western Sydney for God’s glory. Working with people from other faiths have given me great opportunities to share the good news of Jesus’ love, hope, inclusion and acceptance on several occasions to different faith groups.”
“My joy knew no bounds when I was asked to give a Christian message of love to about five thousand Sikh people in Pyrmont Park, Sydney at the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of Guru Nanak, the Founder of Sikh religion; and in 2020 during COVID I was asked to give an Easter message on “Hope” by Sai group, which was aired in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.”