On Tuesday evening March 7, The Ecumenical Multi Faith Unit (EMU) of the Diocese of New Westminster and Or Shalom Synagogue in East Vancouver presented "United in Compassion - Multi Faith Devotional Service with Roundtable Conversations and Dessert" at Or Shalom Synagogue on East 10th near Fraser Street.
As the title describes this was a two stage event that began with a 75 minute devotional service bringing together (in the words of event co-MC Rabbi Hannah Dresner) "a devotional bouquet" led by more than a dozen Vancouver faith leaders followed by Part 2, roundtable discussions downstairs in the hall, each one facilitated by one of the faith leaders.
For the discussions there was a sheet of paper with three questions to discuss:
- Please introduce yourself and your religious/spiritual tradition.
- As we live in uncertain times, where do you find glimmers of hope through the lens of your religious/spiritual tradition?
- How can we, in our daily lives and through our spiritual/religious tradition, act with compassion to our neighbour?
There was a very impressive turnout of more than 130 who joined with the 20+ faith leaders and the team of planners from the two organizations.
The theme of the evening was reinforced by the devotions offered by the faith leaders that people of faith are united by their similarities more than they are pulled apart by their differences. And that the compassionate love of God is present and alive in the diversity of the one human family.
When asked to share a brief reflection about the event, co-presenter, the Reverend Fr. Robin Ruder-Celiz, chair of EMU had this to say:
"Our intent in providing this opportunity was to look for a way to create a movement and conversation in response to the rise in intolerance, racism and violence that has been emerging in recent months. As a part of the evening, people were invited to leave their names and contact information if they wish to participate in future initiatives and conversation.
As I reflect back on that evening, I realize that there is more that unites us as a people of faith from across the religious spectrum than what divides us. Each of us in our own way and specific to our tradition while being respectful of other traditions described a God of compassion, love and tolerance of diversity."