News Story

Canadian Latter-day Saints Join Surrey Interfaith Concert — Now on YouTube

Blending hearts and voices with music

In a world of colliding values and dissent, the recent sixth annual Interfaith Music and Spoken Word Concert in Surrey, British Columbia, offered an hour of peace and harmony.

Diverse faith communities, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, united to perform sacred and inspirational music at the unique event held in conjunction with U.N. World Interfaith Harmony Week. Pandemic concerns prevented an in-person audience, but the concert can be enjoyed and is still accessible on YouTube.

“We were disappointed we couldn’t meet in person, but at least our audience didn’t have to brave the worst snowstorm in a decade like they did for our very first concert,” said Sherry Marceil, co-chair of the Surrey Interfaith Council and vice chair of the Multi-faith Summit Council of British Columbia.

Latter-day Saint participation

This year’s concert participants from the Church included Karen Shirley, a member of the Métis Nation who sang and drummed a song she learned as a young child. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be involved and hope my participation gave viewers a small insight into the spiritual nature of my Métis culture and faith,” she said.

Julie Duerichen sang “I Heard Him Come.” She says her greatest joy comes from sharing her love of God through her singing and being a mother to four wonderful children. She earned a master of music in opera performance from the University of Maryland and has performed with the Burnaby, Calgary and Washington operas.

Jeff Marceil not only performed but also engineered the sound. For this year’s performance, he submitted a video of “Goin’ Home,” based on the Largo from Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony with lyrics by William Arms Fisher. The song expresses the idea of being greeted by family after an individual dies.

“I sincerely believe the Latter-day Saints’ concept of eternal life, that our close relationships with family and friends will continue after we die,” commented Marceil. “For this reason, I chose this song.”

Rave reviews

Virtual attendees gave the event favourable reviews. Many commented on how nice it was to learn about and appreciate the uniqueness of their neighbours’faiths, while at the same time realizing how much they had in common.

“I felt peace while watching the performances,” said Myrna Layton, performing arts librarian at Brigham Young University. “I have watched several of these interfaith events, and I notice the respect for each faith tradition demonstrated in the narration. This makes me feel like there’s hope for peace on earth. We don’t all have to be the same or worship the same to find beauty and peace in the faith traditions of others.”

Harold Rosen, a member of the Bahá’í community and an interfaith educator, said, “It felt like a very serene and uplifting experience of music and words, beautifully presented and co-ordinated, reflecting how religious and spiritual diversity can be integrated. It was also a powerful testimony to how the arts can be harnessed for socially redemptive purposes.”

How it began

The idea for the concert was born in August 2016 at a Surrey Interfaith Council meeting. Sherry Marceil, who was serving as the communication director of the Surrey British Columbia Stake, came up with the idea of hosting a music event at their stake centre, where different faith communities could perform sacred and inspirational music from their traditions.

Invitations were extended to the local interfaith community, and various Church members contributed their talents to set up and work as technicians. In lieu of an admission fee, attendees were encouraged to bring donations for the local food bank.

Through the years, performances and presentations have included recitation of scripture and poetry, dramatic readings, historical storytelling, chants of meditation and worship, and instrumental and vocal musical performances.

Roster expanding

New presenters are added each year, expanding the diversity of faith traditions participating. From the first year until now, the following faiths have been represented at one of the concerts: Anglican, Bahá’í, Buddhist, Hindu, Indigenous (Métis Nation), the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON, or Hare Krishna), Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Sikh, Teachings of Kabir Das, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Unitarian, Universal Peace Federation and United Church.

Bringing together diverse groups to engage and inspire each other is what makes this annual concert a success. “Each participant’s offering is personal and meaningful and sincerely represents how they feel about their spiritual traditions and God,” Sherry Marceil observed. “Pulling this type of event together takes a lot of work, but the results have always made it worth it!”

Contributed by Gail Newbold, Canada Communication Council

Read the story in French.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.