Three years ago, Michael Van Pelt, president and CEO of Cardus, a public policy think tank with a Christian bent, approached his program director and said: “I’m wondering if faith will be forgotten as we celebrate our 150th anniversary.”
This program director, Greg Pennoyer, helped to evolve this notion into Faith in Canada 150, a series of initiatives examining the role and contribution of faith to the nation. The project seeks to answer the question of how we live together in our differences and learn not just tolerance but love and neighbourliness, an aim that seems increasing vital today.
One way Faith in Canada 150 is achieving this is by bringing religious and spiritual communities together: the Cabinet of Canadians, a legacy project that will live on beyond 2017, seeks to assemble 50 leaders from a variety of different faith communities that will lead the way in thought and conversation. The Faith Alliance 150 Network invites individuals and organizations to come together for interfaith dialogue and to enhance the national and local profile of hardworking spiritual organizations.
“We learned a lot from the 150Alliance and the events we attended,” said Pennoyer. “Our Faith Alliance is really a reflection of that.”
Faith in Canada 150 is also producing the Thread of 1000 Stories initiative, which invites Canadians to share their stories of how faith affects their daily lives, and will soon launch a $5,000 prize for stories submitted by writers between 18 and 35. Poets and short story writers can also explore the Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing, a literary prize that will be awarding $25,000 to four winners.
For those less interested in the page and more into the stage, there’s a three-day conference happening in Ottawa in the days leading up to Canada Day featuring Faith in Canada 150’s Millennial Network, a new generation of faith leaders.
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