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Kindness and Kinship was the theme for 2024 World Religions Conference

Life by a Thousand Kindnesses would have been a good subtitle, as many relationships formed or were renewed in an atmosphere of friendship on a chilly February day.
2024 World Religions Conference, Victoria, BC.

Kindness and Kinship was the theme for this year’s World Religions Conference in Victoria on Sunday. Life by a Thousand Kindnesses would have been a good subtitle, as many relationships formed or were renewed in an atmosphere of friendship on a chilly February day.

The Garry Oak gymnasium of Saanich Commonwealth Place was full to the brim, with 390 people attending. Ten speakers gave short presentations on the theme, each introduced by MC Saanich Councillor Karen Harper, following a blessing by First Nations Elder Joan Morris.

Although much more was said, just the few thoughts chosen almost at random from those talks and given in the selection below illustrate the beauty and complementarity of the perspectives expressed.

Cat Vallance of the Bahá’í Faith spoke of carrying forward an ever-advancing civilization and the teaching to “let your heart burn with loving-kindness for every soul who crosses your path”. Rev. Allan Doerksen of St Phillips Anglican church told a memorable story of the restoration of a relationship through a thousand small acts of kindness, illustrating its immense power to heal.

Maulana Umran Bhatti of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spoke of kindness as a universal language embedded in the teachings of Islam. Gurdeep Singh of the Sikh tradition emphasized the power of One in contrast to the suffering of duality caused by spiritual separation from each other.

Richard Rush, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, recalled one of the most profound spiritual teachings, to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbour as yourself. Rabbi Matthew Ponak reminded us of the kindness foundational to Judaism, quoting Hillel: "That which is hateful unto you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole of the Torah; the rest is commentary.”

Rev. Lesia Kohut spoke of the New Thought teaching that we create our own reality and therefore need to love everyone without exception, including our enemies. Dr Anneli Driessen of the Metaphysical Academy remarked on the universality of human emotion and the ability of kindness to make our connection stronger, drawing us together.

Wayne Codling, a Buddhist, offered that kindness is stronger than fear, and meditation a potent tool for creating greater openness and receptivity to that reality. Onkar Hans of the Hindu community explained the symbolism of the great wheel of life with the universal intelligence of God at the hub, and all humanity, all life, as the spokes connected to that centre. He reiterated the common sentiment, repeated by many that day, that we are all one, in kinship with the Creator.

As one participant said, it was like watching the light grow brighter in the room as each speaker added the unique perspective of their own wisdom tradition to all the others.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Victoria Multifaith Society and hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who generously paid for all expenses and offered a delicious East Indian meal to all participants following the presentations.

You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, at