Interfaith project explores death

The Interfaith Bridging Project hosts a round-table discussion and presentation on death and dying, Oct. 27 at Schubert Centre

While death is certain, various faith groups approach death, dying and the afterlife in ways that have similarities and differences.

The Interfaith Connecting project provides information and understanding in a three-part event on Sunday. It starts with an Interfaith Café on Death and Dying from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. with speaker Sheila Odney from Hospice House, followed by round-table discussions with representatives of area faith groups. The event takes place at The Schubert Centre.

“Last year, we found that people wanted to learn more, in a deeper way, about the phases of life and that has been our focus for this year. People tell us they appreciate having an opportunity to learn this way,” said Harpal Dhillon, who represents the Sikh community as an Interfaith Committee board member.

Since last fall, the committee has had public presentations on life transitions, including birth, coming of age, families and elders.

“You are getting insight into different cultures, their history and the spiritual meaning of their traditions. Sheila will talk about how Hospice House relates to and accommodates  the traditions of the faiths of their clients,” said the Rev. Canon Chris Harwood-Jones of All Saints Anglican Church, who will moderate the evening panel discussion.

“People say they learn so much from each other at the round-table discussions and that is something I find very interesting.”

Dhillon shared something of Sikh traditions about death to give an idea of what people can expect to learn from the discussions of her religion and those of others represented.

When someone of the Sikh faith dies, family and friends start reading the holy book aloud, Granth Sahib, at home or in the temple in two-hour shifts. The entire book can be read in 48 hours this way. Priest and mourners pray at the cremation and then gather at the temple for prayer for the soul to be in peace, and to eat together.

“Until you have these kinds of conversations, you don’t know. I’m looking forward to this,” said Harwood-Jones.

After the Interfaith Café, there will be a break until 6 p.m. People are welcome to stay at The Schubert Centre to visit and buy a light supper from the cafeteria or to come back later for the panel discussion.

The panel discussion on Afterlife, with representatives from the Muslim, Sikh, Baha’i, Christian and Buddhist faiths, will include presentations followed by a question-and-answer time. The panel discussion runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. People are welcome to attend any or all parts of the day’s events. Admission is free. For more information, contact vdiss.interfaith@gmail.com.

The Interfaith Connecting Committee project will conclude with a wedding traditions presentation Nov. 29 and a drama in the new year.

The project is sponsored by the Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society with funding from EmbraceBC.