REFLECTIONS ON OUR INTERFAITH DIALOGUE
A week ago Thursday, I spoke at an interfaith event that also included religious leaders from Edmonton’s Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities. Many of you came. The stated goal of the event was to pursue peace through dialogue. Each speaker was given 15 minutes to talk about their Faith’s founder.
This was the first time I have ever engaged in something like this. Having had a week to think about it, these are my reflections about the event.
Bethel Church is awesome: Many people contacted me to say that they were praying (some even fasting) for me as I prepared my talk. Over 40 Bethelites showed up at the event. I was deeply touched. (Thank you, Bethel!)
Some good things happened: I and other Bethel attendees had a chance to chat with people from the other faith communities. When you get past faith-labels to first names something good happens. Barriers come down. Fear is replaced by understanding and empathy.
I was disappointed: Unfortunately, I felt that the sponsoring group had an agenda for the event that was not advertised. They had banners, and book tables, and backdrops aimed at promoting their faith. They were very hospitable, but it was evident that they had not been completely transparent about their motives for hosting the event. (I wrote a letter to them expressing this.)
We have an amazing Saviour. I was thrilled to be able to talk about Jesus. This was my biggest highlight for me. The Good News is such good news! Jesus stands alone as the worlds one Lord and Saviour, and I was thrilled to be able to describe the wonder of His grace.
I am not sure I would ever do this again: I believe that dialogue, not conflict, is the way forward in our pluralistic society. However, now that I’ve experienced this interfaith dialogue, I am just not sure that it is the most effective avenue for pursuing that goal. There isn’t strife among the faith groups in Edmonton. In the future I think I will just to sit down for a coffee with my neighbours from other faiths.
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