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Calling All Faith Leaders - An Interfaith Council for BC?
Interfaith community building is an ongoing process in many communities across the province. Folk have been gathering in the spirit of welcome and curiosity in Vancouver, Victoria, Duncan and many other locations for a very long time. Formally and informally, friends from one faith have reached out to friends of another, sharing resources, support and care whenever and however they are needed. In recent times some have wondered if a Provincial Council could bring something similar to the province as a whole.
On November 16th, 2015 the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver - Michael Miller, and the Anglican Bishop of British Columbia - Logan McMenamie, called a gathering of faith leaders from around the province to discuss forming a province-wide interfaith council. Folk from Christian, Hindu, Moslem and Jewish traditions attended the meeting, hosted in the offices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, and expressed their willingness to assist in the formation of the council. While all were supportive, some will have to check in with denominational structures, while others would have to ensure some way to have representation across a community that has no formal governing body.
BC Conference was represented by our President - Keith Simmonds. Keith sees many good things growing from the group and was especially pleased to note that one of the key advisors informing the meeting was United Church Spiritual Care Director Doug Longstaffe. Doug has experienced provincial organizations of a similar nature in Manitoba and Ontario and was able to share those experiences in a way that helped the group consider potential roles in areas like Spiritual Care in provincial facilities, speaking with one voice on hate crimes against faith communities, and other steps the group could take together.
Those attending agreed to sound out their communities with a view to taking up the conversation again in January of 2016. That meeting will focus on formalizing the relationship. Structure, decision making processes and support arrangements will be shaped out, with a view to having something concrete for faith communities to review early in the new year.