News Story

Surrey Interfaith Council Sponsors Music and Spoken Word Concert

In celebration of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1–7), the Surrey Interfaith Council sponsored the second annual Interfaith Music and Spoken Word Concert, which was hosted by the Surrey British Columbia Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The co-chairs of the Surrey Interfaith Council, Sherry Marceil and Jonquil Hallgate, were the masters of ceremonies, setting the scene for the evening — each with their own faith culture.

An audience and participants of about 100 people stood for the opening of “O Canada,” followed by Marceil reading the fourth verse as the invocation:

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,

Hold our dominion in thy loving care;

Help us to find, O God, in thee

A lasting, rich reward,

As waiting for the better day,

We ever stand on guard.

This seminal evening of music and inspirational poetry and readings flowed forward from this invocation as members of many faiths shared their good news. The reading of Psalm 150, closing with “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord,” was followed by the piping of “Amazing Grace.”

In attendance were members of Bahá’í, Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Sikh faiths as well as the Universal Peace Federation. Glorious singing, instrumentation and ringing bells filled the air with praise and hope for better things for people the world over.

A familiar note was struck for Bible scholars when the words “neither slumber, nor sleep overtakes Him,” spoken from Islamic text, reminded them of “he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).

“Faith is a joyful sound played on different instruments,” said the Reverend Laurie Deacon, pastor at St. Aidan’s Presbyterian Church in New Westminster, British Columbia. “Sometimes the rhythm is slow; other times the rhythm invites toe-tapping and clapping. Together we create music that causes angels to laugh and the Creator to sigh with delight.”

Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning spoke of the need to share with one another and to lift the downtrodden. She remarked, “We share far more in common than that which separates us. When we set aside what separates us, we are more effective helping those in need.” She then led those present in a Sikhi Vaheguru chant.

Gerry Parsons, pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church and director of the Trinity Lutheran choir, said he was thrilled to be invited back for this second annual event. He felt that participants, both from his congregation and others, “are blessed to share their musical talents in singing praises to the Almighty.”

Surrey British Columbia Stake presidency counsellor Gregory Umbach commented: “This second annual Music and Spoken Word [Concert] is a great example of people of differing faith traditions coming together to share with each other. Through these and other such events, we become more acquainted with each other and more importantly with what we share in common.”

In a surprise addition to the program, Umbach presented Hallgate with a Humanitarian Service Award. The award was presented on behalf of the Surrey British Columbia Stake for Hallgate’s dedicated service in the community and her many hours of volunteer service and advocacy for people with challenges and disabilities.

United in hope for harmony, this significant faith-filled community represents the good that is possible here and beyond the borders of home.

Elder Michael R. Murray, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with responsibility for British Columbia, stated, “Such events are important for the community because it is an opportunity for people of differing backgrounds and faith traditions to learn from each other and to be inspired.”

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