The Shuswap Interfaith Symposium was held on the evening of November 3rd and afternoon of November 4th. The symposium included a presentation on interfaith dialogue by the Interfaith Amigos from Seattle. Mr. Mackenzie, 65, is a minister in the United Church of Christ, and recently retired from leading a large congregation in Seattle. As a young man, he taught in Lebanon. Rabbi Falcon, 67, is a Reform rabbi with a doctorate in clinical psychology who founded synagogues in Los Angeles and Seattle that meld meditation with Jewish tradition. Sheik Rahman, 59, is a Sufi, focused more on spiritual wisdom than strict ritual. He is the son of a diplomat from Bangladesh, which helps explain his courtly ease. He co-founded an unusual mixed-faith congregation in Seattle. The presentation was followed by refreshments and the opportunity to meet and greet the Amigos in the church auditorium.
They call themselves the “interfaith amigos.” And, while they do sometimes seem more like a stand up comedy team than a trio of clergymen, they know they have a serious challenge in making a case for interfaith understanding in a country reeling after 9/11. The three maintain they became close not by avoiding or glossing over their conflicts, but by running straight at them. They put everything on the table: the verses they found offensive in one another’s holy books, anti-Semitism, violence in the name of religion, claims by each faith to have the exclusive hold on truth, and, of course, Israel. What distinguishes the “amigos,” who live in Seattle but make presentations around the country, is a unique approach to what they call “the spirituality of interfaith relations.”
The workshop, opened with an introduction to North American Spiritualism and an opening prayer by Splatsin Band Councillor, Randy Williams focused on exercises that might be employed to enhance and increase the capacity of participants to take part in authentic interfaith dialogue.
The symposium was organized by the Shuswap Settlement Services Society as part of the Shuswap Inclusion Project funded by EmbraceBC as part of a program to organize against racism and hate.
For more information go to: www.interfaithamigos.com/Home.html