Curious guests tour Northview Community Church on Monday as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week. Manpreet Grewal (far right) and Cenie Lukas (second from right) appreciated the opportunity for an open discussion about another religion.

Curious guests tour Northview Community Church on Monday as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week. Manpreet Grewal (far right) and Cenie Lukas (second from right) appreciated the opportunity for an open discussion about another religion.

Church tour promotes interfaith harmony

A tour of Northview Community Church kicked off events supporting World Interfaith Harmony Week in Abbotsford.

Hardeep Sidhu has never really been inside a church, so she readily took the opportunity for a tour of Northview Community Church on Monday night as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Multiple events throughout January and February in Abbotsford offer the opportunity for people to better understand another religion and build relationships across faiths. The Bridges of Faith committee, coordinated by Abbotsford Community Services, is organizing the events.

The tour at Northview consisted of a 40-minute presentation about the fundamentals of Christianity and the church’s role in Abbotsford’s broader Christian scene, a question-and-answer session, and a tour of the building. Northview, a Mennonite Brethren church, is one of the largest places of worship in Abbotsford with about 4,000 members and 50 staff.

Like many others, Sidhu had driven by Northview on Downes Rd. many times. She was grateful for the opportunity to satisfy her curiosity about the local institution.

“This is a great chance to speak to someone to learn about the faith…It feels like an open space to be able to ask curious questions,” she said.

She has found openness to be lacking sometimes in discussions about faith, and said the tour was an important trust-building exercise.

ACS director of multicultural and immigrant integration services, Manpreet Grewal, joined the tour for similar reasons.

“I know Northview is a powerful institution, and I wanted to know what was inside. As a non-Christian, I’m interested in theology in general. I found the presentation very interesting.”

The presentation on Christian philosophy, given by Northview pastor Andy Steiger and staff member Greg Harris, was friendly, open, and honest. Listeners asked questions – How are the Mennonite Brethren connected to the Mennonite Central Committee? What is the Holy Trinity? – that Steiger and Harris answered as best as the good book allowed, and admitted where Christians struggled to find clear answers.

Another guest, a local member of the Bahá’í community, Cenie Lukas, also appreciated the tour as an opportunity to promote harmony.

“We (the Bahá’í community) really support interfaith activities…These activities are really valuable. You realize how similar they (faiths) are,” she said.

Upcoming events for World Interfaith Harmony Week are:

– Tour of Gur Sikh Temple (33094 South Fraser Way) on Jan. 19 at 1–3 p.m.;

– Tour of the Sto:lo Nation Longhouse (22-7201 Vedder Rd.) on Jan. 22 from 9 a.m. to noon;

– Dialogue and concert at the Ramada Plaza (36035 North Parallel Rd.) on Jan. 31 at 4–11 p.m.;

– Screening and discussion of Life of Pi movie on Feb. 4 at Clearbrook Library (32320 George Ferguson Way) at 6–9 p.m.;

– Community breakfast on Feb. 8 at Jasbir Saran (2420 Montrose Ave.) from 9 a.m. to noon.

All events are free. To register, contact rudolf.dutoit@abbotsfordcommunityservices.com or 604-859-7681 ext. 270.