I would like to share with you some of my work as the chair for the Multi-Faith Summit Council of British Columbia (MFSC-BC). The council is made up of religious and ecumenical leaders from around the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
As the Diocesan Chair for the Ecumenical and Multi-Faith Unit (EMU) I have the privilege of representing the Bishop and the diocese on the council. One of our first tasks since we formed in the Fall of last year is to write a constitution for the council. In the weeks leading up to the MFSC meeting I was filled with dread. The constant thought that was going through my mind was, “Oh gosh, not another meeting to discuss a constitution . . .” My mind kept wondering about how many discussions we would have over the appropriate use of the Oxford Comma through to much bigger and deeper conversations regarding of each of our Faith practices and biases. I just couldn’t see how this meeting was going to be quick, smooth or in any way useful.
It was probably a couple days before the meeting if not the morning of the meeting when my thoughts changed. I realized that our gathering to discuss the constitution, no matter how dry and mundane it could be; could actually be a profound moment. Here we were from our different religions and ecumenical backgrounds coming together in one room around one table. The task before us was to agree on a statement that would give shape to a way of working together.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of another gathering, so many years ago in Constantine where religious leaders gathered in a room to form a document that they could agree to. While this is not a Creed and while the door to our room was closed, it was not locked. We were also fed lunch afterwards. What we were doing was still profound in that from our different backgrounds and perspectives we were able to engage in conversation and ultimately agree on a constitution. Yes we went through the document line for line and by lunch time, we were agreed and ready to sign!
The MFSC will serve as an advocacy body to lobby government and local authorities against circumstances where discrimination based on race, creed or religious practices are found. As a newly formed council we were also able to elect from amongst ourselves the new Executive for the council. The first chair of the Multi-Faith Summit Council of British Columbia is a Jewish woman. Indeed a profound day and moment in more ways than one.
Until next time, Fr. Robin