In celebration of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1–7, 2018), the Surrey Interfaith Council, co-chaired by Sherry Marceil and Jonquil Hallgate, sponsored the second annual Interfaith Music and Spoken Word Concert. The Surrey British Columbia Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted this event.
An audience of about 100 people stood for the opening singing of “O Canada.” Marceil read the fourth verse as the invocation:
“Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our dominion in thy loving care;
Help us to find, O God, in thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the better day,
We ever stand on guard.”
This multicultural evening of music, inspirational readings, ringing bells, and singing filled the stake centre with praise and hope for people the world over.
Reverend Laurie Deacon (pastor at St. Aidan’s Presbyterian Church in New Westminster, British Columbia) read Psalm 150, which closes with “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.” After a piping of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” Reverend Deacon explained: ““Faith is a joyful sound played on different instruments. Sometimes the rhythm is slow; other times the rhythm invites toe-tapping and clapping. Together we create music that causes angels to laugh and the Creator to sigh with delight.”
Nabet Fani, of the Bahá’í faith, shared a poem titled “Freedom.”
The Maple Ridge United Church Sacred Bronze Hand Bell Ringers performed “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and “I Will Exalt Thee.”
Acharya Shrinath Dwivedi shared a Hindu poem titled “Peace.”
Michik and Alan Wilding of the Universal Peace Federation shared the poem “Crown of Glory.”
Julie Duerichen sang the hymn “Be Still, My Soul.”
A Latter-day Saint men’s quartet performed “Abide With Me; ‘Tis Eventide.”
Jeff Marceil (piano) and Gerry Parsons (guitar) sang Tim McGraw’s song “Humble and Kind.”
A Qur’an reading from the Islamic faith struck a familiar note for Bible scholars when the words “neither slumber, nor sleep overtakes Him,” spoken from Islamic text, reminded them of “he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).
Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning spoke of the need to share with one another and to lift the downtrodden. She remarked, “We share far more in common than that which separates us. When we set aside what separates us, we are more effective helping those in need.” She then led those present in a Sikhi Vaheguru chant.
Gerry Parsons, pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church and director of the Trinity Lutheran choir, said he was thrilled to be invited back for this second annual event. He felt that participants, both from his congregation and others, “are blessed to share their musical talents in singing praises to the Almighty.”
Surrey British Columbia Stake presidency counsellor Gregory Umbach commented: “This second annual Music and Spoken Word [Concert] is a great example of people of differing faith traditions coming together to share with each other. Through these and other such events, we become more acquainted with each other and more importantly with what we share in common.”
In a surprise addition to the program, Umbach presented Jonquil Hallgate with a Humanitarian Service Award. The award was presented on behalf of the Surrey British Columbia Stake for Hallgate’s dedicated service in the community and for her many hours of volunteer service and advocacy for people with challenges and disabilities.5
United in hope for harmony, this faith-filled community represents the good that is possible. Elder Michael R. Murray, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stated, “Such events are important for the community because it is an opportunity for people of differing backgrounds and faith traditions to learn from each other and to be inspired.”