Festival fosters understanding

 — Nov. 3, 20013 nov. 2001

Sunday’s 17th annual Festival of Faith is particularly significant this year, according to Dr. Ivan Wilson, one of the organizers.

Given the strong feelings aroused by the attacks on America, Wilson believes the Festival is especially important.

“We need to understand one another and celebrate our religious diversity,” he says. “The Festival of Faith gives people the opportunity to meet members of other faiths and to share in their worship. That’s one of the things we try to do: have a representative from each religion do something — give a reading, perform an act of worship from their faith, maybe liturgical dance or singing. That way we get the taste, the flavour of how other faiths worship God.”

A variety of faith groups will gather Sunday at 2 p.m. at St. Anne’s Catholic Church.

The festival, planned around the theme of Peace, will feature four choirs: St. Paul’s United Church Choir, Saskatoon Children’s Choir, the 60-voice Saskatoon Chimo Chordsmen, and St. James’s Refiner’s Choir, as well as a variety of speakers including Dr. Rabbi Roger Pavey, Bruno Baerg of the Mennonite Central Committee, and Dr. Sidney Fogel, founder of the Festival of Faith.

“We all worship the same God,” said Wilson, who is pastor of Knox United Church. “There is only one God — one Supreme Being, who is perceived in different ways by different religions. But religion is not just about belief in God. It involves social, theological, philosophical, ethical, and institutional dimensions, as well.

“We need to try and respect the beliefs of those who believe differently. In England there is an old law of settlement, the Act of Toleration, which basically says: `We don’t agree, but we will tolerate one another and live together in harmony.’ We need to have that same appreciation in our modern times and recognize that we can disagree and still live together in peace and harmony under the rule of the law. Once we take the law into our own hands, we create chaos for ourselves and the whole community.”

Wilson says the Festival of Faith is important because of the multi-racial society we live in.

“Most of the flash points in our world centre around ideologies and religious issues which can often motivate factions. Good examples are Northern Ireland and Bosnia. We need to understand the faith background of the people we live with.”

The church, he says, has been talking about unity for some time, but it isn’t really interested in surrendering any territory. Because of that, society has caught up with the church and gone ahead of it in terms of tolerance and acceptance.

The ecumenical Festival of Faith grew out of a local council of Christians and Jews that had been having conversations in the 1980s about things that unite and divide them in terms of religious beliefs. It was suggested that the group be widened to include other faiths, and that an all-embracing celebration of those faiths should be held at least once a year to promote better understanding and appreciation of the common spiritual values and ethical principles.

Today Multifaith Saskatoon is a vibrant organization with a representative board that meets several times a year in on-going discussions aimed at understanding the respective faith journeys.

Wilson is on the board that plans special Multifaith gatherings to mark events like Earth Day and Peace Sabbath.

Following events of Sept. 11, Multifaith Saskatoon arranged two special services, one at McClure United and the other at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral.

The idea of ecumenism has always been part of Wilson’s personal faith. Born in St. Vincent, West Indies, he went to England after high school to train for ministry in the British Methodist Church.

His ecumenical experience began while a seminary student in Manchester, where he was involved in groundbreaking dialogue between the Methodist and Anglican churches.

Following theological training, Wilson spent time in Geneva at the World Council of Churches Centre at Bossey. Back in England, he served as ecumenical officer for a group composed of Methodist, Anglican, Salvation Army, Quaker, Congregationalist churches and an Industrial Mission in the Manchester area.

Coming to Saskatoon 13 years ago, Wilson became active in Multifaith Saskatoon. Besides being co-organizer of this year’s Festival of Faith, he also serves as chair of the Inner City Council of Churches.

He teaches a class in world religion at St. Thomas More College.

Posted: Nov. 3, 2001 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6106
Categories: NewsIn this article: Festival of Faith, interfaith, Saskatoon
Transmis : 3 nov. 2001 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6106
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Festival of Faith, interfaith, Saskatoon

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