Faith in the City
On Friday, Jan. 24, 2013, 250 people of various faiths — Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, First Nations spirituality, and others — came together with several City Councillors and staff in the City of Toronto’s Council Chambers for Faith in the City.
This half-day conference called on participants to put aside their theological differences and work together to build a better city. Among the participants were Sister Betty Lou Knox, Sister Anne Schenk, Sister Jean Leahy, Fontbonne Ministries Administrator Leanne Kloppenborg, and myself (Social Justice, Peace, and Care of Earth Program Director Leah Watkiss).
The mandate of Faith in the City is "to increase the participation of faith communities in City Building activities... in non-proselytizing ways." The title has a double-entendre, referring both to the presence of faith communities in our city and to the faith that these communities have in our city. The first event of its kind in Toronto, the conference gathered faith communities who have long been engaged in a social programming throughout the city to share their ideas, struggles, successes, questions, and best practices on food security and poverty, homelessness and housing, disadvantaged youth, after school programs, and refugees. Sr. Jean Leahy said, "It was great to hear how other religious groups engage in these issues."
Sr. Betty Lou Knox agreed. "It was encouraging to gather with representatives of so many multicultural and multifaith backgrounds," she said. "My hope is that the issue of present duplication of services which was raised will be transformed into collaboration among the various faith communities."
This event was just the beginning. Organizers hope that the ideas and connections arising from the event will usher in a new era of collaboration among faith groups: that the faith in our city will unite for a better Toronto. We at Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto look forward to being a part of this new effort.
For more information, visit www.faithinthecity.ca.