Pope Francis and Jordan's King Abdullah II pose for photos during a private audience at the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse at the Vatican April 7, 2014. The Jordanian king honoured Scarboro Missions for their interfaith efforts in a ceremony April 20, 2015. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Jordan’s King honours Scarboro Missions’ for its interfaith efforts

By 
  • May 5, 2015

TORONTO - In a world where the Islamic State threatens religious minorities in the Middle East, Boko Haram kidnaps Christian girls in Nigeria, Jews worldwide are forced to defend the existence of Israel, it might be said that interfaith relations are no walk in the park.

But Toronto’s Scarboro Missions interfaith programs just won a United Nations-sponsored prize for taking an interfaith walk in the park.

Scarboro Missions’ World Interfaith Harmony Week programming was one of three programs out of more than 900 around the world to be honoured by King Abdullah II of Jordan with a World Interfaith Harmony Week prize at a ceremony in Amman, Jordan, April 20. Scarboro Missions’ program took third prize.

Scarboro Missions’ eight interfaith events for World Interfaith Harmony Week this year included a presentation on the modern history of Jewish-Christian relations, a student interfaith encounter, presentations on the Golden Rule as found in different religions and a winter hike through the Rouge Valley.

First prize went to Pakistan’s Universal Interfaith Peace Mission, where in the context of Taliban attacks on Christians and other minorities, mosques and schools organized a variety of events. Second prize went to interfaith activists in Munich, Germany, who organized 15,000 people to form a human chain of light between five different houses of worship.

Extra points were given to projects undertaken in circumstances of palpable conflict between religious communities.

The prize and World Interfaith Harmony Week traces its origins to a 2006 letter from a wide array of Muslim scholars to Pope Benedict XVI. The letter was titled “A Common Word Between Us” and in 2007 the letter evolved into a larger project called The Common Word Initiative. By 2010 the Common Word Initiative under the sponsorship of King Abdullah II had pushed through a UN resolution declaring the first week of February World Interfaith Harmony Week.

With its Golden Rule posters and regular interfaith programming, Scarboro Missions has been involved in World Interfaith Harmony Week from the beginning.

Scarboro Missions interfaith director Paul McKenna travelled with Rev. Michelle Singh to Amman to receive the award from the king.

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