A discussion about different faiths and world views isn't meant to be about right and wrong, rather about learning about their similarities and strengths.
A series of interfaith discussions is underway in Maple Ridge called "Many Candles," and it is meant to provide a safe place to discuss difficult topics, said David Dalley, facilitator of the series.
Sometimes the examination of different faiths is superficial, looking at, for example, clothing and food, Dalley said. But the interfaith dialogues are meant to dig deeper into traditional faiths and world views.
There were several speakers at the first interfaith dialogue with about 40 people of varying backgrounds in the audience - Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Baha'i, humanist, among others.
Faye Hyam-Luxemburg, executive director at the Family Education and Support Centre, has been floating the idea for a few years, and the agency received an interfaith bridging grant through Embrace BC.
The idea is to eliminate racism and promote multiculturalism - one of the big goals of the Family Education and Support Centre, which is putting on the dialogue series.
Another goal is to make newcomers feel welcome in Maple Ridge, said Luxemburg-Hyam.
"Faith communities often play a big role in helping new immigrants settle," she said.
A steering committee has been meeting to put together the series, and Luxemburg-Hyam said that relationships and friendships are growing out the of the committee as well as an understanding, instead of assumptions, about each other's faiths. "We're learning that the kernel of truth for all faiths is love and service to the community," she said.
Luxemburg-Hyam said the ultimate goal is to form an association of faith communities. At these types of discussions, which Dalley has led in Surrey,
he encourages people to give their personal perspective on faith and culture, for example, explaining how they experienced something as a Catholic, not what the Catholic stand is on an issue.
The idea is to have a dialogue, not a debate, Dalley said - not discussing right and wrong.
The discussions are called "interfaith" dialogues, but Dalley said they are about world views - "how do we understand ourselves and the world around us?" The organizers pose a "juicy question" and let the participants explore it.
"We want them to be conversation starters," Dalley said. The first dialogue, held on Sept. 4 was on the topic of reconciliation.
The second dialogue takes place on Oct. 2 on the topic of gratitude.
The question that will be posed this Wednesday is "How does your faith tradition awaken you to the potential and possibility of gratitude?" After having done similar work in Surrey, he thinks that Maple Ridge needs to have these dialogues as well.
"I think this is very forward thinking to do this now in Maple Ridge," he said.
Many Candles Interfaith dialogue series Oct. 2: Gratitude Nov. 6: Environment Maple Ridge Library, #130-22470 Dewdney Trunk Rd.
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
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