News Story

Millennials Gather for Interfaith Conversation

Mormon young adults joined with those representing various faiths to share their experiences regarding the impact of religion in their lives. The discussion, hosted by the Canadian Interfaith Conversation (CIC), was held at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Toronto, Ontario, on February 23, 2017.

“The purpose of the discussion,” says Sandra Pallin, executive CIC committee member and national public affairs director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “is to gain a better understanding of the impact religion has in the lives of millennials and how they can be advocates for religion in a pluralistic society.”

Millennial participant Bonnie Oppenheimer, director of Experiential Jewish Education and Engagement, says, “I had no idea what to expect during this conversation, but I think it’s important to see what other faiths are doing to engage millennials. I’ve gained a new passion for understanding other people’s faith. We are commanded to be a light to the nations, so it’s important that we continue this work.”

Millennial participants from the Church were Eurah Park, a high school French teacher, and Aric Pahnke, a PhD student in biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto.

“I’m a people person,” says Park. “I love meeting people and learning about their background. I love being able to pull out the commonalities between religions.”

Pahnke adds, “Learning about other people’s faith helps me to understand my religion better. Their religious practices are usually tied into my own religious practices. To understand cultural and religious diversities blesses my life.”

Words such as “encouraged,” “inspired,” “hopeful” and “future-thinking” were used by participants to describe the conversation. Among the take-aways from the conversation were the importance of conveying to millennials how religion can positively impact their daily lives and a desire to work with other religions on service projects that contribute to society.

The spiritual and physical needs of the world require goodwill and co-operation among different faiths. Each faith organization makes a valuable contribution to the larger community of believers.

Emphasizing God’s love for all people, not just those of one religion,President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, the highest governing body of the Church, declared, “We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God. ... We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father. … He hears the prayers of the humble and sincere of every nation, tongue, and people. He grants light to those who seek and honor Him and are willing to obey His commandments” (“Faith of Our Father,” April 2008 general conference).

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