Okanagan faith groups gather in Vernon to talk peace

Conference on Nov. 26 organized by Muslim community

Eleven different world religions based in the Okanagan will be represented at an interfaith conference planned for Vernon on Monday.

Called Pathway To Peace, the conference will take place at Vernon Recreation Centre, organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community BC.

More than 400 people are expected to attend this inaugural event, said moderator Gordon Oliver, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“For an untested event, the level of registration is quite something,” said Oliver.

He said the idea behind the conference is to bring representatives of different faiths together to find common themes between different religions and establish line of communication moving forward.

“Although we all have different faith beliefs, we have many similarities that can bring us together and help build bridges and relationships which can set an example for our congregations and the public in general to follow,” Oliver said.

“We all believe what we believe but we all want to move forward peacefully and find the common threads to what each us believe in our faiths.”

Among the participants in the panel discussion will be Okanagan First Nation Chief Byron Louis, Garrett Brisdon of Baha’i; Rev. Elizabeth Bowyer of Trinity United Church, Umang Patel of the Hindu faith, Islam Imam Tariq Azeem, Kent Burnham, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rev. Dale Jukes of Spiritual Living, Balwant Kaur Thind of the Sikh faith, Rev. Chris Harwood-Jones of All Saints Anglican Church, Susan Shawlee of Jewish faith and Buddhist Mike Boudreau.

Oliver said tolerance in a multi-faith society can only happen through dialogue to make it possible for different faith perspectives to live peacefully together.

“Without dialogue and conversation, it becomes easier to demonize one another. When you are friends or associates at a grassroots level, it becomes far harder to (demonize one another),” he said.

“I give kudos to the Muslim community for having the initiative to go around and organize something like this.”

The public is invited to attend the conference at no cost, with people asked to register online at www.worldreligionsconference.ca. A free East Indian traditional meal will be provided to all attendees.



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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