Walking the walk on the interfaith path to peace

Fri, Feb 2, 2018

Interfaith harmony is possible and Martin Shoemaker and Ethan Vanderleek aren’t satisfied with just preaching to the choir. They’re going to walk the walk.

Shoemaker and Vanderleek are chaplains at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Multi-Faith Centre, which organized this year’s multimedia festival at KPU in celebration of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week.

“This event brings together our university community and the cities of Richmond and Surrey to build awareness of how all religions and secular ethical groups can cooperate to overcome those world factions that would drive us apart,” said Shoemaker, a Humanist chaplain based out of KPU’s Richmond campus.

To kick off Interfaith Harmony Week, the Multi-Faith Centre is co-hosting the Surrey Interfaith Council’s Pilgrimage, a 16-km walk through Surrey, starting at Thien Ton Buddhist Temple (17192 - 96 Ave. Surrey) and stopping at different places of prayer and worship.

“We’re walking as an expression of interfaith solidarity, cooperation and compassion,” said Vanderleek, a Christian chaplain based out of KPU’s Surrey campus.

From Feb. 6 to 8, religious leaders, students and community members are sharing works of art, stories, design and short presentations of peace efforts around the world at both the KPU campuses in Richmond and Surrey.

On Feb. 6, a light-hearted pancakes for peace breakfast will be served at KPU Richmond (8771 Lansdowne Rd.), followed on Feb. 7 by a brown bag lunch and learn on reconciliation between Israel and Palestine. On Feb. 8, Dr. Sutrisno Hartana a world authority on Indonesian culture and arts will direct a gamelan musical performance, also at KPU Richmond. KPU’s Interfaith Harmony celebrations will cap off the week with an open mic night at KPU Surrey’s Grass Roots Café (12666 72 Ave., cedar building main floor 1260) also on Feb. 8.

2018 marks the fourth time, KPU’s Multi-Faith Centre has organized a festival for World Interfaith Harmony Week. KPU was one of the first universities in Canada to host World Interfaith Harmony Week events.

For more event details, please visit kpu.ca/interfaithharmony.

KPU’s Multi-Faith Centre is a coalition of diverse faith communities offering students, faculty and staff the opportunity to explore and respect the diversity of religious and secular world views. The Multi-Faith Centre maintains sacred spaces on campus in the form of meditation and prayer rooms on the Richmond and Surrey campuses. Currently, KPU has five chaplains working from the Richmond and Surrey campuses, all of whom were involved in organizing this year’s Interfaith Harmony Week.

Story by Tatiana Tomljanovic