“Otherwise Affiliated” Group
This student-led spiritual sharing group meets monthly (selected Tuesdays at 12:00 noon) for sharing of ritual and discussion. Open to all students, it provides an alternative to denominational worship services. Current participants represent Buddhist, Jewish, Unitarian, Bahai, Mennonite, and Methodist traditions.
Inter-faith Action Projects
Cathy Merchant (MA, Middle East Studies, Univ. of Washington) is the Minister-in-Training and Head Organizer of the Living Interfaith Sanctuary in Vancouver, BC. and an M.Div. student at VST. About the Sanctuary, she says, “The purpose of the Living Interfaith Sanctuary is to provide a welcoming, respectful, and nurturing religious community for people of goodwill from all spiritual paths. We share who we are and celebrate our diversity, not to convert or convince, but in realization of our common humanity. We aspire to offer a model of an inclusive community that acts as an agent of good works in the local community and the world.” Cathy is a Tibetan Buddhist, married to an Ismaili Muslim, who has dedicated her life to “living Interfaith.”
Dr. Eloecea, a student in the MAIIS program at VST, has been developing a series of inter-religious contemplative practices. As part of her supervised fieldwork, she taught a continuing education course, The Art of Listening in the Midst of Ministry. in the 2018 Indigenous Summer School Program. The course explored listening to self, in relationships, in groups, and to the Divine. Students learned how listening can impact ministry and self-care. Dr. Eloecea also facilitated an afternoon workshop, Enhancing Well-Being Through Contemplative Practices.
In recent years, VST’s Inter-religious Studies students have facilitated discussion at VST about multicultural welcome; coordinated a series of inter-faith food garden tours at Or Shalom Synagogue and St. Anselm’s Church; worked with the Surrey Multicultural Council to create a “World Harmony Week” event; arranged inter-faith visits to Sikh and Hindu sites; and helped organize Muslim-Jewish-Christian sharing events.