Welcome To Our Centre
Established in 1995, our centre was founded by people of good will from many faiths who realized that only by working together could we create a community dedicated to friendship, harmony and understanding.
Members of our Centre are drawn from fourteen different faith traditions.
We are united in the celebration of the diversity found in our city, province and country. We continue to work to build bridges of understanding and respect between our diverse faith communities.
Excerpts from “What is Interfaith?” given by Pat Holt at St. Mary and St. Mark Coptic Church, Oct. 2, 2013.
“Welcome to this meeting of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action. As many of you know, the Centre was founded in 1995, and for the past 18 years we have worked to develop an awareness of, and respect for, the religious and cultural diversity that is found in Edmonton and area. We have offered a wide variety of programs and events, including evenings like this one, in which we gather in each others’ worship spaces to learn more about the religions and beliefs and practices that can be found in this city.
I have been asked to briefly share with you what is meant by interfaith work. It begins with finding out about each other, and learning about various faiths from those who practice it and are committed to their own traditions. We do not speak on behalf of any tradition that is not our own. When we learn about any faith, be it Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, etc. we invite speakers who are committed to their own faith and who are knowledgeable about the authentic traditions and beliefs of that faith. Many of our members and directors are members of the ‘clergy’.
At first, in Interfaith work, people tend to focus on how similar we all are – how spirituality is a common human trait and how there is a deep desire for an authentic expression of that spirituality and connection with the Divine, however that is understood or interpreted.
However, as we mature in this work, a new trend has emerged. This is the acknowledgement and celebration of our differences, and seeing the diversity in religions and religious expression as a source of enrichment and strength for us personally and for our community.
I can share what it has meant for me personally. I was baptized in the Ukrainian Catholic tradition, but when we moved to a small town without a Ukrainian church, my family attended the Roman Catholic Church there, and so, since childhood, I have been a practicing member of the Roman/Latin tradition. What I gain from attending programs like this one tonight is a knowledge and understanding that enriches my own faith. Hearing about other approaches challenges me to move beyond familiar, everyday, even cultural practices to a deeper experience of my own faith.
For example, learning about non-violence (Ahimsa) as explained by a Hindu priest has made me more aware of my own actions. Hearing a rabbi explain about forgiveness at Yom Kippur gives me new ways to think about my own sacrament of Reconciliation. One of the most moving experiences happened to me when, at a vigil at Churchill Square after members of the Coptic Church in Egypt had been murdered, one of your own members shared a prayer – he prayed for those “who are systematically taught to hate” and it showed me what it must have been like as the first Christians were told to pray for their enemies. I could go on, because each and every faith that I learn about helps me to think more deeply about my own. These elements of diversity, as practiced authentically by people of traditions other than mine, enrich my own understanding, and challenge me to a more authentic expression of my own faith. I think that most members of our Centre could share similar experiences.
Diversity does not threaten us – it is a treasure that we at the Edmonton Interfaith Centre work to share with our communities. And for that reason, we thank you profoundly for allowing us to come to your beautiful church tonight and learn more about your faith and your traditions.”