News Story

Canadian Latter-day Saints Participate in 2023 U.N. World Interfaith Harmony Week

In 2013, the United Nations declared that each year February 1–7 would be observed as World Interfaith Harmony Week. WIHW events have grown in scope around the world, with many being held across Canada.

Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have attended or organized events in their communities.

Janet MacLennan of the Dartmouth Ward, Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake, has been involved with WIHW events organized by Interfaith Harmony Halifax since 2016. As one of the co-ordinators, MacLennan feels that participating has benefitted her greatly. “I have learned so much from involvement with interfaith work,” she says. “Over the years, we have visited services, devotionals and events held by so many different faith groups in their sacred spaces. To meet and learn from good people who are earnestly trying to live and serve by the light and knowledge they have embraced is very encouraging. They are reaching for a higher power, whatever they may call it, and striving to become better people and do good in the world.”

During a WIHW youth event on February 5, 2023, in Halifax, 18-year-old Calla Quist of the Dartmouth Ward told the group about a painting created from individually painted tiles by a group of young interfaith participants in 2020. She was 16 at the time and took all the tiles and symbols and created a harmonious whole. The painting is titled “Tree of Harmony.”

On February 6, 2023, Tricia Fox, married to the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake president, was an Interfaith Conversation panellist over Zoom. She shared how sound and silence play a role in her faith in The Church of Jesus Christ and in her personal life. Other presenters were a woman of Métis heritage, a member of the Sikh community and a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Fox shared how, at age 13, she was asked to lead the congregational singing in church services. That experience shaped her life as she learned to love the music and teaching the hymns, which helped her feel the Spirit.

In Calgary, a WIHW potluck was hosted on February 2, 2023, by Church members in southwest Calgary. The organizing committee of Jewish, Latter-day Saint, Lutheran, Mennonite and Muslim volunteers planned a “From Strangers to Neighbours” dinner attended by more than 160 people.

The evening began with a welcome from the host community by President Leon Davidsen of the Calgary Alberta Fish Creek Stake presidency. During the meal, the audience was entertained by the Azerbaijani Youth Dance Group. Attendees were invited to become acquainted with others seated at their table by sharing something they enjoyed about their own faith, something they admired about another faith and a story of an ancestor that made an impact on them.

Bishop Dalton Harding of the Midnapore Ward in Calgary and a board member of the Calgary Interfaith Council says, “For me, personally, interfaith participation helps deepen my own faith. At the same time, it helps me appreciate the richness of other faiths and what they can teach me.”

Eileen Bell, of the Greenfield Ward in Edmonton and a board member of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action, organized and moderated several online Zoom events for WIHW. An event on February 6, 2023, featured several Latter-day Saint participants, including Chris Burt, former bishop of the Greenfield Ward. He joined a group of panellists who spoke about “Why a Loving God Lets Bad Things Happen.” Friends from the Bahá’í and Islam faiths also gave presentations, which were followed by questions and thoughts from online participants.

Bell loves the contact that interfaith activity gives her with other faithful people. “I’ve learned about similarities that the faiths share with each other,” she says. “It is wonderful to see how the Lord’s love is expressed to all His children. Close friendships have been built as we’ve worked together to try to create events to benefit people in the Edmonton area. It’s easier to think of everyone as your brother or sister when you see how important their relationships with God are to them.”

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