On Friday, September 20, a diverse group of people from the Muslim and Christian communities at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, and the community attended a public lecture titled Transgression, Penitence, and Transformation: How can Muslims and Christians face their brokenness and foster healing and renewal? This was the first in a four-part series called Dealing With Our Darkness: A Series of Anglican-Muslim Conversation.
Organized by the Centre for Dialogue and Spirituality in the World Religions, the Renison Institute of Ministry, and the Studies in Islam program at Renison, the event featured two speakers: Bishop Mark MacDonald (National Anglican Indigenous Bishop) and Dr. Ingrid Mattson (Chair of Islamic Studies, Huron University College), who spoke from their area of expertise and answered questions from responders Dr. Timothy Gianotti and Dr. Darrol Bryant as well the audience.
Drawing on his experience growing up, Bishop MacDonald spoke of the legacy of residential schools, a difficult subject in Canadian and Christian history. He talked of the need for a deeper understanding of what happened and a recognition and acceptance of the role of the church so that everyone can move forward.
Dr. Ingrid Mattson spoke about the effects of 9/11 and the way it changed how Muslims view themselves. She also spoke about how compartmentalizing evil acts is a way of externalizing them and how doing so, instead of acknowledging and understanding, poses a threat to a sound spiritual state.
Participants left with a profound understanding of how important and urgent these conversations are. They also recognize the need for more insight into and knowledge of Christianity and Islam and of themselves. According to Marilyn Malton, Director of the Renison Institute of Ministry, "people stayed for over half an hour after the end of formal event to continue in conversation with one another and the presenters."
People are already registering for the three community conversations in October, November, and December. Those seeking an understanding of self-reflection and compelling examples of inter-faith dialogue in which participants confront their own vulnerability as they discuss difficult topics are encouraged to register for the three upcoming events.