World Religions Conference Emphasizes Need for Good Works

News Story

The 11th Annual World Religions Conference held February 11, 2018, at the University of Victoria featured speakers from six faith traditions: Bahá’í, Christian, Metaphysical, Hindu, Islam and Sikh. A member of the Tsartlip First Nation also performed a blessing ceremony.

The conference, titled “Vying With One Another in Good Works,” provided a venue for representatives of each faith tradition to share their teachings regarding good works and how all can work together to lift and support others both temporally and spiritually.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have long taught that we have an obligation to care for the poor and needy of the world. In a recent address to Church members, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “Economic deprivation is a curse that keeps on cursing, year after year and generation after generation. It damages bodies, maims spirits, harms families, and destroys dreams” (“Songs Sung and Unsung,” Apr. 2017 general conference).

Elder Holland further stated: “Guns, slurs, and vitriol are not the way to deal with human conflict. The declarations of heaven cry out to us that the only way complex societal issues can ever be satisfactorily resolved is by loving God and keeping His commandments” (“Songs Sung and Unsung”).

To help alleviate economic deprivation, the Church’s worldwide humanitarian efforts relieve suffering for families of all nationalities and religions and offer hope with the potential for a better life for people around the world.

Of interest to many of the more than 150 in attendance at the conference was the Christian perspective, which was shared by Church member Evelyn Thompson-Smith. Given that there are many Christian sects, Thompson-Smith noted, “It was a daunting task to represent all of Christianity” while also striving to present her personal thoughts and feelings about her own faith. In so doing, she included a quote from the Book of Mormon: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

The conference began with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Ashfaq Ahmad, followed by Bear Sam, who offered the First Nation’s blessing. Several dignitaries were also introduced, including Nils Jensen, mayor of Oak Bay; Frank Hitchmough, president of the Church’s Victoria British Columbia Stake; and Mohammad Aslam Shad, regional president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, British Columbia. Each of the dignitaries also offered a few words to those in attendance.

Mayor Jensen noted, “Coming together in conferences such as this helps dispel misinformation, distrust and stereotypes.” He congratulated all those present for taking an interest in each other’s faith traditions and then quoted from the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13:13, to which he noted how important it is to love one another.

Each of the representatives shared thoughts, ideas and strategies for all to lift and help others regardless of faith. Additionally, many of the presenters shared specific initiatives, both locally and globally, in which they or their specific faith tradition has participated.

One of the primary organizers, Rizwan Peerzada, stated that he was very pleased with the turnout from the community and that he was already looking forward to next year’s event.

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