Regional news

 — Sept. 30, 200530 sept. 2005


Many faiths embraced the holiness of creation in the sixth annual celebration of World Environment Day organized by Multi-Faith Saskatoon. The event, entitled Walking Sacred Ground, featured the labyrinth behind Resurrection Lutheran Church. Walter Linklater, a First Nations elder, led a sweetgrass ceremony before beginning the labyrinth walk, described by speakers as “a metaphor of one’s life journey” — a journey inward to the centre and then back outward again. The event also included a blessing from Lutheran Pastor Clayton Beish and two choral numbers from the Multi-Faith choir directed by David Kaplan. Words from many faiths were read about the holiness of creation and the sacred trust in which it is held by humankind. Keynote speaker Melanie Elliott spoke of important projects that seek to protect areas such as the prairie grasslands. The emerging alliance of religion and conservation was mentioned as a significant force. Scriptural guidance about respect for creation found in all faith communities is now understood in scientific terms as essential wisdom. (Prairie Wisdom)

The Revd Donald Bolen of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome, gave a talk at Holy Spirit Centre in Regina on 4 June. The theme was: A View from Rome: The Present State of Ecumenism and What Does the Future Hold. Donald Bolen, a priest of the Archdiocese of Regina is the Vatican’s officer for relations with the Anglican Communion and the World Methodist Council. He also serves on the international commission responsible for preparing texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina)

Cycles and cyclists were anointed outside Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral in downtown Vancouver on 24 June. Anglican and Lutheran clergy conducted a blessing of bicycles ritual in which WD-40 oil was dripped on bicycle chains and sunscreen on bicyclists’ noses. Although the ceremony was lighthearted there was a serious purpose — to ask people to consider how the type of transportation they choose affects the environment. Paige Dampier, an Anglican organizer, explained that Christians are called to be stewards of creation and personal actions — such as whether we drive, pedal or take public transportation — are linked to environmental justice. About fifty people took part in the service. (National Catholic Reporter)


Professor Mohammad-Kazem Shaker, Head of Qur’anic Studies at Qom University in Iran, shared leadership with Professor Kurt Richardson of McMaster University in a June summer course on Scriptural reasoning given at Emmanuel College in Toronto. Professor Shaker teaches and writes on interpretation of the Qur’�n and is interested in dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews about critical methods used in interpreting Scripture. Professor Shaker met with individuals and groups interested in his areas of study and spoke at events sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee, to which all were invited. (United Church of Canada)

The formation of FAST (Fighting Anti-Semitism Together) in Toronto provides a new front in the battle against anti-Semitism. A group of non-Jewish Canadian business leaders led by Tony Comper, a Roman Catholic and chief executive officer of the Bank of Montreal, created the organization. Comper explained to more than 400 people gathered for the monthly meeting of the Empire Club on 16 June that in face of the record rise in anti-Semitism incidents — vandalism in a Jewish cemeteries, swastikas spray-painted on doors, and the burning of a Jewish school library — he and his wife Elizabeth decided that there had to be a dramatic response from the non-Jewish community to show their solidarity with the victims. They approached their friends and colleagues in corporate Canada and twenty-one senior business executives from the country’s largest companies each contributed a minimum of $10,000 to create FAST. The new group’s first project is a learning program for use in schools beginning this fall which addresses anti-Semitism in the broader context of bigotry. FAST decided to target children first because Comper and his wife vowed that “if we can help it, not one more generation of Jewish children will grow up in fear of the people around them.” (The Catholic Register)

An American convert to Islam made history as the first woman to lead Friday prayers in a Canadian mosque. About one hundred people attended the service at the United Muslim Association mosque in Toronto on Canada Day, 1 July. Pamela Taylor, co-chair of the New York-based Progressive Muslim Union, led the mixed-gender congregation in prayers. She also delivered a khutba (sermon) on the importance of equality between races, genders, people of differing sexual orientations and persons with disabilities. Protesters had threatened to disrupt the service but never put in an appearance. (National Catholic


Over one hundred women and men from the Montréal and Ottawa regions gathered, on the Saturday before Great Lent began, at St Nicholas’ Antiochian Church in Montreal for the annual one-day conference sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Women of Montréal, a pan-Orthodox organization of members from OCA, Antiochian, Greek, Serbian, Ukrainian and Romanian jurisdictions. The OCW has been sponsoring these highly successful pre-Lenten or early-Lenten conferences for fourteen years. Speaker for the day was Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, who challenged his hearers with theological meditations on the theme of “Christ’s Mother Mary: Model for Christian Life.” Fr Hopko emphasized that the Holy Theotokos is the only perfect human model for all Christians — both men and women. This is so because of her openness to hearing the word of God, her complete acceptance of it in faith, and her life of total humility and obedience to Him. After Fr Hopko’s concluding presentation, four of the women present were asked to reflect on his theme. A physician, two priests’ wives, and a nun each spoke very briefly about their lives as both mothers and Christians, with a very interesting variety in their own reflections. (Canadian Orthodox Messenger)

Specializing in the organization of intercultural activities, the firm “Amarrages sans frontiers” helps people discover the multicultural reality of Montreal in all its variety so as to facilitate closer relations among Quebecers of all backgrounds. They organized a guided visit to the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue on 5 June, and on 12 June, there was a visit to one of Montreal’s forty mosques with a discussion about Islam, the Arab communities in Montreal and the Arab world in general. On 18 June there was an introduction to the Ukrainian community of Rosemont: its history, and institutions, with a visit to the magnificent St Sophia’s Orthodox Church. (Intercultural Bulletin Board)


A Worship East ’05 Christian Rock Concert was held on 6 August in Fredericton. This was the second year for the concert, sponsored by Fredericton radio station JoyFM. Allen Price of the radio station noted that it was a vision of JoyFM not only to broadcast Christian music but also to see Christian artists come to the Maritimes. After starting with a few small events, Worship East was born last year. Headliners this year included ZoeGirl and Big Daddy Weave. (The New Freeman)

KAIROS sponsored a time of reflection on 6 August to mark the atomic bombing of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The event took place at Fort Howe, looking out over St John at 8:15 a.m., the time the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. (The New Freeman)

Posted: Sept. 30, 2005 • Permanent link:
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