Connecting faith in the community
The Interfaith Bridging Project brought together members of local faith communities to learn from each other and share with others. Events included the Interfaith Café, a chance to discuss and ask questions, a tour of local sacred spaces, workshops on dance, music and crafts, and wrapping up with a dinner and fashion show.
“The response was overwhelming, with people wanting to learn more about other faiths,” said Nola Dibski, coordinator of the Interfaith Bridging Project which brought together representatives of the Muslim, Sikh, Buddist, Baha’i, Hindu, First Nations, Jewish and Christian faith communities.
“We learned so much and enjoyed the people we met so much that we wanted to continue in some way whether there was funding or not. We found there were some misconceptions about the project. This is definitely not about trying to make all faiths the same. It’s about learning to appreciate and respect other faiths.”
The Interfaith Bridging Project is administered by Vernon and District Immigrant Services and sponsored and funded by the provincial government through Embrace BC. The Vernon project has received funding for another year through to fall 2013.
The steering committee members are sorting through ideas for the coming year with the first event set for Nov. 19 with children’s music and dance, snacks and an overview display on upcoming events. Some ideas include more of the popular Interfaith Cafés for in-depth dialogue, a series of informational presentations on celebrations of life transitions in different faiths which will be open to the public. A writing/music/drama team will be working throughout the year on a presentation as a gift to the community next fall.
“Our hope and our goal is that many people will become involved in any/some of the events in the ways that they can contribute and in ways that are life-changing for them,” said Dibski. “We want to see people connect with others they might not get to know otherwise and to form friendships that can’t be broken. We’re not all trying to be the same. We are sharing about our own faiths which we know can be richer and better for us as individuals when we learn about other faiths. Each of us involved in the project has a strong faith and we are stronger and more understanding and more loving the more we learn.
“I’m really excited about this project. Personally, it has been a wonderful opportunity to become much more aware of my interfaith neighbours. Everyone felt very safe within the project. We could agree or not agree and share our wisdom, laughter and compassion. It has connected me in a way I had not imagined. There is no question for me that this is where God wants me to be now.”
The Interfaith Bridging Project will also include opportunities for children and youth to learn about faiths other than their own, with the Global Education program students at Fulton school being involved.
“I want to thank the members of the steering committee for their ideas, enthusiasm, inspiration and hard work. They are the key to the success of the project.”
For more information about the introductory event Nov. 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at All Saints Anglican Church, or to take part in upcoming events, contact Dibski at firstname.lastname@example.org.