By SUBMITTED BY THE LETHBRIDGE INTERFAITH NETWORK on November 19, 2020.
Approximately two-thirds of citizens of Lethbridge declare a religious affiliation, with the overwhelming majority of these adherents professing a belief in Christianity. However, there are smaller communities in Lethbridge of Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and those of Indigenous spirituality, to name a few.
Over the past years, as the population grows, religious diversity in Lethbridge is expanding. Are you interested in learning more about these different world religions? When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with someone from a different religious background? Why might that be important?
Religious differences have been a source of conflict and even violence within some communities around the world and over time (Take note of what is happening in France right now). At the source of this conflict is misunderstanding, mistrust and contempt. One way to mitigate that risk is to create an opportunity to dialogue, share and connect with people who adhere to different beliefs than ourselves. Having a better understanding of each other and working together to build relationships of trust will help our community be more welcoming, inclusive and a safer place to live.
Recently, a group of believers from different faith-based organizations met and organized the Lethbridge Interfaith Network. The network believes that people of diverse faiths, traditions and world views can come together in unity to promote religious diversity and freedoms through education, advocacy and collaborative community service. For example, just before the pandemic started, we had an in-person event on death and dying hosted at a local church where a speaker from the Sikh, Hebrew, Islamic, Buddhist and Christian congregations shared their religion’s beliefs and practices related to this common human event. It was a great educational event. The highlight of the afternoon was during the question and answer period, an audience member exclaimed, “This is so awesome that we can come together and talk about our differences with such a good spirit present.”
We believe we can make our community a better and safer place to live by promoting interfaith dialogue and we can be a force for good. We are grateful to the editors of The Herald who will publish a regular feature that promotes the value of interfaith work and profiles various religious organizations in town.
We welcome all interested people to join our emerging network. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LethbridgeInterfaithNetwork or contact one of us for more information.
Daren Heyland, Brenda Ikuta and Tymmarah Mackie