News Story

Mormons Share Hugs and Hospitality During Interfaith Harmony Week

Hundreds of people joined hands to form a “human hug” around the Ummah Mosque in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the first week of February 2017. During the half-hour vigil, participants extended unity, love and protection to their Muslim neighbours, expressing support for the constitutional right to exercise freedom of religion in peace.

Close to 400 members of the community surrounded the building, among them Janet and John MacLennan, co-directors of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Halifax, together with other members of the Church. “It was a very loving show of support for [the Muslim community] at a sad time,” the MacLennans said.

Prior to the “human hug,” interfaith guests were invited to participate in the Muslim Jummah prayer. The upper room of the mosque was filled to capacity; the message shared being “God is in control.”

Interfaith Engagement is an educational program held as part of the annual Interfaith Harmony Week in Halifax during the first week of February. This year 13 diverse faith communities opened their doors to share their hospitality, celebrations, spiritual practices and worship services with those wanting to open their minds and hearts, bringing harmony and peace through greater understanding.

After participating in many different interfaith celebrations and worship services, Anna Davison (stake director of public affairs for the Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) described what she called an eye-opening experience: “Though our dress, the rooms and their adornments and the performance of our rituals are different, there are many similarities.”

The commonalities with Mormon beliefs and practices that Davison noted were a belief in one God, the Creator of the universe; the importance of family, with a mother and father loving their children and teaching them respect, moral standards and obedience to the law; faith in God, that He will direct one’s path, as one’s experience has a higher purpose; the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and all are created equal but with different roles and responsibilities. “We are much more alike than we are different!” Davison discovered.

“Service is the great melding of religious faiths,” according to Davison. “As we serve our brothers and sisters of any faith or no faith, we grow in love, kindness, empathy and forgiveness, and we create a place where peace and harmony can live and flourish.”

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted a Christian worship service at the Church’s Halifax chapel on Sunday, February 5, with the theme “I Am a Child of God.” Serving refreshments afterward provided an opportunity for Church members to answer questions and hand out Church-related materials to guests, including “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” “For the Strength of Youth,” “Family History: Getting Started,” “My Path to Self-Reliance” and “Family First.”

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