TRU's Multi-Faith Chaplains Discuss Building Our Future Together
The opening comments from Elder Mike, representing the Secwepemc First Nation, were the perfect start for TRU's Building Our Future Together Multi-Faith Discussion on February 1st, 2023. Venerable Gawa Khandro later commented that we could have all said a fulfilling "thank you and goodnight" after Elder Mike concluded his message. However, the event went on, chaplains and faiths were introduced, questions were answered, and interfaith harmony was exemplified.
February 1 through 7 is Interfaith Harmony Week around the world. The existence of the Week helps to promote harmony among people no matter their faith tradition. To start off the week in Kamloops, TRU's Multi-Faith Chaplaincy presented the Building Our Future Together panel discussion. Messages shared inspired many thoughts about the benefits of interfaith harmony.
Opening Comments from Elder Mike
The evening opened with a Territorial Acknowledgement including comments from Elder Mike of the Secwepemc First Nation. In his message he reminded attendees that his peoples’ ancestors were taking care of Mother Earth long before any “word of God” got here, but now we can’t even drink out of our two great rivers. He asked all to look at what’s happening here in Kamloops, to keep this land from collapsing, and to talk about this land - our home.
Panelist Introductions and Messages
Next, each panelist from the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy introduced themselves, their faith tradition, philosophy, or religion, and some comments about Building Our Future Together.
Reverend Patricia Davies of Spiritual Connections Kamloops
Ahmed Kafafi of the Kamloops Islamic Association
Reverend Jane Gingrich of Hills of Peace Lutheran Church
Rabbi Marcy Gofsky of the Kamloops Judaism community
Jeff Torrans of the Summit Drive Baptist Church, and chair of the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy
Father Chad Pawlyshyn of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Venerable Gawa Khandro of the Gawaling Buddhist Centre
A beautiful tapestry of messages developed as each of the seven panelists shared.Varying perspectives and approaches provided insight into many ways many different people might harmoniously contribute to building a better tomorrow. We might seek out and understand our own spirituality, create conditions for the marginalized to live their faith, be together with all beings rather than only human beings, accept the peace God leaves with us, use the land as our place of worship rather than worrying about which building to be in, embrace one another’s differences through working together, respond to God’s gifts with grace, let God’s will be done rather than our own, learn how to navigate differences together, consider what kind of together we’re creating, remove stigmas and taboos about being religious and asking questions about faith, and take care of now.
An overarching theme eventually seemed to develop through the messages that our actions together matter more than our religious background.
Questions and Answers
The final section of the event was a question and answer period. Wonderful questions were asked about finding a religion or spiritual path, asking questions to people of other faiths, including spirituality in daily life, and balancing patience with urgency.
The chaplains on the panel demonstrated the power of interfaith harmony in response to questions. As they answered each question with firm individual perspectives they masterfully balanced harmonious care and respect for all perspectives. They shared advice on how to “go shopping” for a religion or philosophy that feeds and resonates with you, encouraged prayer, meditation, and not compartmentalizing faith from life, and pointed out that everyone is precious wherever they’re at. They advised seeking God’s will instead of our own, shared perspectives on how to show curiosity for a faith tradition, and proposed that we’re all spiritual on the inside - we just need to be open and patient as we seek a community.
The closing prayer for the evening concluded the event nicely. The TRU Multi-Faith Chaplains provided a valuable service by attending and sharing, and the event itself was a perfect start to Interfaith Harmony Week 2023.