News Release

Interfaith Breakfast With Mayor Tory Held in Toronto

Toronto mayor John Tory and the Toronto Area Interfaith Council (TAIC) hosted the city’s sixth Mayor’s Interfaith Breakfast Reception on July 27, 2016, at Toronto City Hall. The reception provided an opportunity for Toronto city councillors to engage with Toronto-area faith leaders, who included several local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is often cited as the most diverse city in the world. The mayor’s breakfast reception celebrated that diversity and the efforts of Toronto’s faith community to promote interfaith harmony and global peace-building.

Addressing nearly 150 faith leaders and several city council members, Mayor Tory explained that because Toronto is so diverse in languages, nationalities and faith, the city carries a great responsibility to set the example for the rest of the world.

Toronto Ontario Stake presidency member Steve Wilson, who attended the breakfast, recognizes that Mormons can help carry that responsibility. “As members of the Church,” Wilson said, “we need to be more engaged in community activities — not specifically proselyting, but simply to be present as Church members contributing to a richly diverse culture and community.”

Tory encouraged all present to live their faith daily, not just once a week, and to reach out to the persecuted and to refugees, to build the city up. He noted that those who are most likely to be persistent and consistent in helping the city’s most vulnerable are faith communities.

More than 40 faith communities are represented on the Toronto Area Interfaith Council. Its president, Zul Kassamali, immigrated to Canada in 1972 as a refugee from Uganda. He spoke at the event and commended the city and faith leaders for working together, especially to help newly immigrated Syrian refugees. He acknowledged, “Because of the great work done in the interfaith community, Toronto is blessed, and so is the country at large.”

Delegates from the Parliament of the World’s Religions were also present at the reception. They are exploring the possibility of holding the next parliament in Toronto, projected for 2017. The 2015 parliament was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church is headquartered.

Dr. Robert Sellers, chair of the board of trustees of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, spoke of the importance for young people, specifically, to cultivate interfaith harmony: “If young people are carefully taught to listen to, respect and welcome those with differences, the world will become a better place.”

Phil Barker, bishop of the Toronto Ontario Ward (the Church’s oldest congregation in Canada), also present at the mayor’s breakfast, added, “Today’s event underscores the fact that there’s a lot more we have in common with a lot more people, but we’ll never know that unless we get outside of our circles and associate with one another.”

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to foster relationships with government and religious leaders in order to preserve religious freedom and to improve the communities in which they live. A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is one of the hallmarks of Mormonism. The spiritual and physical needs of the world require goodwill and cooperation among different faiths.

From the earliest days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith elevated the principle of religious liberty and tolerance: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11).

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