Religious Leaders Panel – Study of Religion in Atlantic Canada

Religious Leaders Panel at The Study of Religion in Atlantic Canada Workshop

Religion and Diversity Project team member Paul Bowlby organised a religious leaders panel as part of the 2014 Study of Religion in Atlantic Canada workshop on the theme “Moving Beyond the University”, held at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The religious leaders were each invited to speak about the implications of the growth in religious diversity in Atlantic Canada as well as their perspectives on the changing nature of religious participation.

Youth Ministry 

Allyson Marsh is a youth minister at Deepwater Church, an evangelical Christian church in Halifax that has grown rapidly in the past six years. She speaks about responding to young Christian adults’ need for a safe space in which to ask questions and discuss issues related to suicide, sexual orientation and drug use. She believes that society informs the church rather than in the past when church informed society.

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Spiritual Diversity

Robin Arthur speaks about organising two conferences on religious diversity, one in 2011 and the other in 2013.  These conferences addressed the challenge of religious pluralism in Canadian society and the need to deepen public understanding of religion in order to facilitate the practice of diverse faiths in schools, hospitals and work places.

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Buddhist Perspectives 

Swarna Weerasinghe is a professor in the Department of Community Health at the Dalhousie University School of Medicine. She talks about the changing nature of Buddhism through its spread, adaptation and diversification. In Canada, Buddhist rituals of birth, marriage and death are being adapted while local institutions such as hospitals and government are also adapting to Buddhists.

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Muslim Perspectives

Syedadnan Hussain works in the Religious Studies Department at Saint Mary’s University. He speaks about his leadership in the El-Tawhid Juma Circle and the development of the Halifax Unity Mosque. He also discusses the internal and external challenges facing Muslims, describing Islam as a religion of struggle which is sensitive to the concerns of the world and adapting to local contexts.

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