News Release

Multi-faith Founders’ Day Event Held in British Columbia

The public affairs council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in British Columbia has worked closely with several faith organizations across the province over the past 12 months. These organizations are active in the community in a variety of ways, extending from outreach and community service to education and awareness. In particular, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has engaged in facilitating and promoting multi-faith events such as the Religious Founders’ Day event held March 12, 2016, at the Abbotsford Stake Centre.

Representatives from several major world religions — including Bahá'í, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism — were invited to share their religion’s founder’s teachings on the conference’s theme: “Absolute Justice, Kindness and Kinship.” In addition to the panel of representatives from these world religions, Dr. Gwendolyn Point, chancellor of the University of the Fraser Valley, and her husband, Steven Lewis Point, a B.C. provincial judge and the former lieutenant governor of British Columbia, also spoke. Both First Nations, Mr. and Mrs. Point offered a unique perspective of the conference’s theme while sharing their thoughts and experiences.

Over three hundred attendees, including 60 students and faculty members from Columbia Bible College, located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, were greeted and welcomed by local members of parliament, members of the provincial legislature and municipal politicians. The event was moderated by Kelly Chahal, councillor for the City of Abbotsford and long-time community advocate. The entire proceedings were also streamed live via

Attendees were treated to a meal provided by the Sikh community, which meets and worships in the Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar Sikh temple located across the street from the Abbotsford Stake Centre.

Rizwan Saeed Peerzada, president of the Abbotsford Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, expressed his gratitude to the Church for opening its building for the event and for “being such gracious hosts.” Peerzada also noted that “events such as these would not be possible without the help and support from other groups such as the Church.”

Of particular note, Tonya Engen, co-director of public affairs for the Church in British Columbia, was asked to represent Christianity on the panel.

Additionally, all participating groups were given the opportunity to set up displays and share messages and materials with the attendees. A booth for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was maintained by full-time missionaries of the Church.

Neil T. McKenzie, stake president for the Abbotsford British Columbia Stake, commented that “these kinds of events are crucial for building relationships of trust in the community and in assisting in efforts to dispel inaccuracies and myths about each group.”

A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is one of the hallmarks of Mormonism. From the earliest days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith elevated the principle of religious liberty and tolerance: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11).

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