News Story

Pathway to Peace

“Amazed that we are more alike than we are different” was a common refrain heard during a dinner enjoyed by more than 400 attendees of various faith groups gathered at the Vernon Recreation Centre in British Columbia recently. The dinner concluded the first annual interfaith World Religions Conference to be held in Vernon.

Imam Rizwan Peerzada of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in British Columbia organized the conference, which was entitled “Pathway to Peace.” Panellists from over 10 faith groups participated, including Anglican, Baha’i, Buddhist Metaphysical, Centre for Spiritual Living, Hindu, Indigenous, Islam, Jewish, Sikh, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the United Church. The panellists spoke according to their religious perspectives on “How Peace Is Obtained.”

A recent report by the Institute for Economics and Peace states that the Global Peace Index, a measure for conflict around the world, continues to deteriorate for the fourth year in a row. “We are all one in this world, and until we realize that, we are still going to have strife,” spoke Okanagan Chief Byron Louis from the conference podium.

The conference brought representatives of different religions together to find common themes, build relationships and establish lines of communication between the groups. “We discovered that we all want … to create a more peaceful world, and we established a common bond between us all,” exclaimed Sikh representative Balwant Kaur Thind.

Global News reporter Travis Lowe echoed the same. While covering the conference, he stated, “The focus of the meeting was to foster faith in humanity and tolerance toward others.”

Imam Tariq Azeem added, “It’s very important to have dialogue between religions, between faiths, because when we come together, we realize there are many similarities.”

Kent Burnham, a former president of the Vernon British Columbia Stake, represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the panel. Gordon Oliver, director of public affairs for the Vernon British Columbia Stake, served as moderator.

Oliver explained, “By gathering together, talking one with another and truly communicating, we have come to know each other and have begun to develop mutual respect that will foster a more peaceful, accepting community.”

More peace was found, understanding increased and relationships of trust fostered at the World Religions Conference in Vernon.

Contributed by Gordon Oliver

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