UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

February 1–10, 2019 | Discovering the Many Faces of Faith

An opportunity to visit sacred spaces in Halifax to observe, meet, and engage with diverse faith communities. All are welcome to participate in the sacred events. Enjoy hospitality, friendship, and refreshments.

Friday, February 1st

Muslim Jummah Prayer

12:20 p.m. 2510 St. Matthias Street, Halifax

Guide for Guests: We welcome you to the Ummah Mosque. All guests are welcome to listen to the sermon and watch the Friday congregational prayer. Chairs will be available. Following prayer, there will be a multicultural lunch with multicultural costumes, a Q&A session, open discussion with the community, Arabic calligraphy, and free publications. Endeavour to come and invite your friends for this unrivalled and unique experience.

Tour and Socializing: Both women and men may meet in the back of the prayer hall to learn about this weekly prayer and about Islam and Muslims in general. Given the distinctive Islamic architecture, this will be followed by a short tour of the prayer hall and the new gym in the basement where there will be socializing.

Our Community: The history of Muslims in Canada is as old as the birth of Canada itself. According to the 1871 Canadian Census, four years after Canada’s birth, there were 13 European Muslims in this country, and by 2011 (National Household Survey, 2011) around 3.2% of Canada’s population were Muslims. While early Muslims settlements were concentrated in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, the history of Muslims in Nova Scotia dates back to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s with the settlement of a handful of Muslim families primarily in the Halifax-Dartmouth area. On December 26, 1966, six newly-arrived Muslim migrants to Nova Scotia signed a Memorandum of Association known as the Islamic Association of the Maritime Provinces of Canada, one of the oldest Muslim organizations in Canada.

The years following saw a significant growth in the number of Muslim immigrants especially from the Indian sub-continent. Most of these newcomers were professionals including doctors, engineers, university professors and school teachers. In the 1990s, Canada opened its immigration doors to entrepreneurs and with the upheaval caused by the Gulf war, a large number of Arabic speaking Muslim immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia. According to Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey, approximately 1% of Nova Scotia’s population are now Muslims. Muslims are among Canada’s most highly educated and productive citizens, with 45% possessing at least one university degree.

In Nova Scotia, Muslim population is deeply ingrained with the social, economic, and cultural fabrics of the society. From medical doctors, university professors, teachers, and engineers to public servants, entrepreneurs, and social workers, the Muslim community has been a productive and positive constituent of Nova Scotia for more than half a century. The shared history of Muslims and Nova Scotia is deeply cherished and constantly celebrated by Muslims in the Halifax-Dartmouth regions in every facet of their lives.

Jewish Shabbat

5:30 p.m. 1981 Oxford Street, Halifax

Guide for Guests: Enter by the door on Pepperell Street. When we observe Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, we traditionally refrain from writing, using non-medical electronics (such as cell phones and cameras), smoking, and handling money, in and/or near our synagogue. We invite you to help us celebrate Shabbat by affirming the world in its natural state and warmly engaging with those around us.

Our Community:The first Jews arrived in Halifax in 1750, only a year after the city was founded. They were merchants from Newport, Rhode Island and little is known about them or their offspring. The Halifax Jewish community, as we know it today, took form in the 1890s when Jewish immigrants fleeing from the Pograms in Russia settled in the city. In 1895 the first synagogue, an orthodox synagogue, was established in Halifax. As the Halifax Jewish population grew, Jewish religious practice diversified and in 1953 a conservative congregation, the Shaar Shalom Congregation, was established. On October 5, 1954, the Shaar Shalom Congregation broke ground for its synagogue on the corner of Oxford and Pepperell Streets where it continues to serve the needs of Halifax’s Conservative Jewish community today.

The Shaar is an egalitarian congregation where both women and men participate fully in the spiritual, ritual and social life of the community. To enhance communal connection and support, the congregation offers a variety of activities and organizations: religious services on Friday nights, Saturday mornings and holidays, Jewish education and religious training for young and old alike, which includes a religious school for preschoolers to grade 7, a Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) and cemetery, a library for community use, kosher kitchens, function rooms, and a Tree of Life.

In addition to the Shaar Shalom, the Halifax Jewish Community includes: Beth Israel Synagogue (Orthodox), Chabad-Lubavitch of the Maritimes, Atlantic Jewish Council, and Hillel Atlantic – Jewish Students Association.

Saturday, February 2nd

Bahá’í Community Devotional

2:00 p.m. Room C170, 5793 University Avenue, Halifax (Collaborative Health Education Building)

Guide for Guests: All are welcome to join the community for prayers, music, and devotions where creativity and spirituality meet. This will be followed by an informative video, question and answer period and refreshments. Discover a unifying vision of the future of society offered by the Baha’i Faith towards world peace and of the nature and purpose of life to know God and attain His presence by walking a path of service. Come as you are. All are welcome.

Our Community: The Bahá’í Community of Canada is made up of some 30,000 Canadians from backgrounds that are truly representative of Canada’s rich cultural and ethnic diversity. Canadian Bahá’ís live in every province and territory and are spread among 1200 localities. Their economic and social backgrounds are as diverse as their cultural and religious heritage.

The Bahá’í Faith has more than five million members worldwide. Bahá’ís are the followers of Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) whom they regard as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. The fundamental vision of the Baha’i community is that the nations of the world will become unified in a manner that respects the diversity of people but recognizes that we are all the members of one family.

The Halifax Bahá’í community was established in 1942 and has been contributing to the development of Halifax Region for 75 years. Today there are Baha’is in virtually every part of the city; living in, and contributing to their neighbourhoods through charitable acts and service.

The Baha’is of Halifax offer to all: Classes for the Moral Development of Children, Programs for Junior Youth and Youth, Study Circles for Spiritual Development and Service to others, and Devotional Gatherings.

We extend a warm and heartfelt invitation to you to make contact with the Halifax Bahá’í Community: (902) 425-8188 |

Heathen Disablot, Honouring the Ancestral Mothers

6:30 p.m. 5500 Inglis Street, Halifax

Guide for Guests: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. There will be a welcome, introduction to our community and instructions regarding the ritual, followed directly by our celebration of a heathen Disablot – the veneration of the sacred mothers, at 7:00 p.m. Some chairs will be provided for those who cannot stand during ritual. There will be displays representing many of the traditions and a brief introduction before the ritual. Our community will wear festive and comfortable clothing and this can be as varied as our people. Please dress as you feel is appropriate. Please note that we do not allow any form of recording during ritual. Snacks and chat with the community will follow.

The Halifax Pagan Community at the Yule Celebration

Our History: Pagan Presence Committee was created by Earth Spirit Society of Nova Scotia (ESSNS) in January 2008 to apply for participation in World Religion Day. It was created as on open committee: we accepted anyone who wanted to participate, not only members of ESSNS (pronounced ‘essence’). From its original inception our purpose has expanded to include Pagan participation in all multifaith events as well as educational presentations. Our involvement includes: World Religion Day, Festival of Lights, World Interfaith Harmony Week, Pride, King’s County Historical Society, and events of ecological support. Earth Spirit Society began in 2006 as a means of supporting Pagan involvement. It was organized as a roundtable; all had a voice; the only fees were time and energy. We registered under the Societies Act in 2009 with bylaws consistent with our original purpose, leaving the roundtable intact. Our community has many roots with as many histories. Other organizations have preceded us and before them we were stigmatized and secretive. Paganism is an umbrella term and includes Druids, Eclectics, Heathens, Wiccans, Witches, and many others and like other religions; we have varieties of each.

Our traditions come from varied sources such as Greek, Celtic, Egyptian, or Norse. Many follow The Wiccan Rede, an ethical principle, the short version being “An it harm none, do what thou will.” Respect and reverence for nature is very common. Pagans may be pantheists, dualists, or other. Many are solitaries. Between one and two percent of those you see and know are from our community. Today, Earth Spirit Society is composed of individuals from multiple Pagan spiritual paths. We provide public rituals such as Imbolc, Yule, and Beltaine and support for Pagans, as well as hosting social events and interfacing with the media. We gather for our mutual growth in the upward spiral that is Life.

Sunday, February 3rd

Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism

9:00 a.m. 2029 North Park Street, Halifax

Guide for Guests: Our guests will be welcomed as they enter the front door of the Centre. The sessions for the morning will be held in the practice hall on the ground floor. We begin at 9am with Confucian chanting. Guests are very welcome to join in. Handbooks are provided. At 10am guests are encouraged to join us as we continue our practice in a Taoist Tai Chi class. At 11:30am our guests are invited to share lunch with us. Lunch is prepared at the Centre by volunteers each Sunday and provides a time of conversation and fellowship.

About Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism: The Taoist Arts were brought to Canada in 1970 by our founder, Master Moy Lin Shin. These arts include chanting, Taoist meditation, temple rituals, as well as the 108 move Taoist Tai Chi® set, the lok hup ba fa and hsing-I sets, the Taoist Tai Chi® sword and sabre sets, and push hands. Master Moy Lin Shin was a Taoist monk, deeply grounded in the Taoist principles of selflessness and compassion. It was his desire to give the arts to all who wished to benefit from them in both body and spirit.

In 1980 instruction began to be given in Halifax, held in a number of locations in the city until 1990, when the building on North Park Street was purchased. It is now the Atlantic Region Centre of the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism. It houses a Three Religions Shrine where we observe the unified teachings of the great religions of China – Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. The shrine is opened and closed daily; chanting is held every Sunday morning and is open to the public.

The arts we practice are founded upon the rich tradition of Taoist training and are intended to return both body and mind to their original nature. According to Taoist teaching, the body and mind cannot be separated. Each step in the training is intended to help the mind to return to stillness, clarity and wisdom and the body to a balanced, relaxed and healthy state. At the physical level, the whole physiology is exercised, including tendons, joints, connective tissue and internal organs. At the mental and spiritual level, the arts are a method of “taming the heart” and developing inner calm, compassion and reduced self-centeredness.

The mission of the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism is to deliver all from suffering. It emphasizes spiritual development through the cultivation of both mind and body with the ultimate goal of achieving harmony with oneself and with the world. Fung Loy Kok promotes the principle of all cultures and religions moving together in peace and harmony. Individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs are welcome to participate.

Sikh Kirtan (Songs of Praise) and Langar (Communal Meal)

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 or 1:30 p.m. The Maritime Sikh Society, 10 Parkhill Road

(off Purcell’s Cove Road, near Dingle Park, in the Jollimore area)

Guide for Guests: Enter the prayer hall with bare feet and covered head. Please bring your own headscarf. Shoes and coats are left in the safe coatroom downstairs. In the prayer hall, everyone sits on the floor; some chairs are provided. Langar (communal food) is served to all those who attend the service. It provides social time and sense of sharing and seva. All sit on the floor for Langar.

Monday, February 4th

Brahma Kumaris Guided Meditation

7:00 p.m. #1 Cedarbrae Lane, Halifax (between Bayview and Dunbrack on Lacewood Drive

Guide for Guests: Everyone will be welcomed at the door and guided to the meditation hall. Kindly remove your shoes and coats at the front door. Maintain silence while entering the mediation hall and sit in silent reflection until everyone is seated. The core understandings of the Brahma Kumaris will be explained and a guided meditation experience will follow. Then we will drink chai together, eat cookies, and socialize.

Our Community: Everyone wants peace. At this time the world needs peace. Brahma Kumaris is a worldwide spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and world renewal. Founded in India in 1937, Brahma Kumaris has spread to over 110 countries on all continents and has had an extensive impact in many sectors as an international NGO.

Their real commitment is to helping individuals transform their perspective of the world from material to spiritual. It supports the cultivation of a deep collective consciousness of peace and of the individual dignity of each soul. Meditation centres offer programs free of charge with the intention of creating peace in the world – one thought at a time through the practice of meditation. By changing our thinking and feelings, actions, and impact can become peaceful.
Spiritual awareness through the practice of meditation gives us the power to choose good and positive thoughts over those which are negative and wasteful. We start to respond to situations, rather than just reacting to them. We begin to live with harmony, we create better and happier, healthier relationships and change our lives in a most positive way.

Tuesday, February 5th

Indigenous Talking Circle

2:00 p.m. 2158 Gottingen Street, Halifax Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre

Guide for Guests: Talking Circle led by Deborah Eisan. Within the context of Interfaith Harmony Week, the purpose of the Circle is to explore how we can re-establish the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people, and restore it to harmony. The Circle will be conducted in a sacred way with a smudging and with respect for all traditions gathered in that Circle. As you come in the front door, take the stairs upstairs.

Wednesday, February 6th

Taste of Shambhala

6:00 p.m. 1084 Tower Road, Halifax Shambhala Centre

Guide for Guests: Join us each Wednesday from 6-8:30pm for food, conversation and meditation at the weekly Open House, Taste of Shambhala. 6:00–6:45pm Soup & social time — Soup is always delicious, vegan and gluten-free. 7:00–8:30pm Meditation instruction and practice followed by a short talk and discussion.

Shambhala: A Global Community

Shambhala is a global community of people inspired by the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness. This nature, our innate wisdom, can be developed so that it benefits our own lives and helps meet the many challenges facing the world.

Shambhala welcomes people from all walks of life, faiths, and backgrounds. They come together to practice meditation, gather, and celebrate in order to develop a global culture that cultivates dignity and sanity in an increasingly chaotic and stressful world.

Thursday, February 7th

Universalist Unitarian “Sample Service”

7:00 p.m. 5500 Inglis Street, Halifax

Guide for Guests: A special brief 30 minute service at 7:00 p.m. will give an introduction to our faith tradition, followed by a Question and Answer discussion. (Our normal services are on Sunday morning at 10:30). Come on this special night to see how a congregation without creed or dogma, a congregation that welcomes people of all faiths or none, can build a loving spiritual community and celebrate spiritual diversity. Coffee, tea, and snacks will be served.

Our Community: The Universalist Unitarian Church, part of the religious landscape of Halifax since 1837, is founded on the idea that people of diverse religious faith or none can unite in community and support one another in the quest to give meaning to life. There will be a special brief service at 7 pm to give an introduction to our faith tradition, followed by a discussion. Coffee, tea, and snacks will be served.

Sunday, February 10th

Christian Worship at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church

10:00 a.m. 38 Purcell’s Cove Road, Halifax

Guide for Guests: Divine Liturgy begins slightly after 10am, preceded by Matins at 8:50am. As you enter the church narthex, there are candles to be purchased and lighted if you wish to offer a prayer. Dress appropriately; head coverings are not required. Ushers will advise guests where to sit. Follow the example of others by standing, sitting, or kneeling. The congregation stands often during the service, but remaining seated is permissible if necessary. Do not partake of Holy Communion; however, the sacred bread will be offered to guests and others by the priest at the end of the Liturgy. Incense is burned during the liturgy. Photography is permitted only after the service. A fellowship hour follows. Copies of the Liturgy in Greek and English are available.

Notes on the Church and Service

Orthodox worship is unlike worship in any other Christian tradition. The purpose of worship and theology is mystical union with God. The liturgy is not a private performance by a priest, since he cannot perform the liturgy alone, but a joint act of laity and clergy. All of the senses are engaged: the paintings on the walls, icons, candles, priestly vestments, incense, songs and chanting, the taking of bread and wine, kneeling, kissing the icons, making the sign of the cross, etc. Worship brings the worshiper into the presence of God and celebrates the mystery of God’s love. Much of the singing is by two small antiphonal choirs or chanted by the priest. The congregation sings some of the responses and prayers.

The liturgy helps worshipers reflect on two almost opposite ideals of faith: how completely different and “other” God is from us and, at the same time, how close and personal God is in the person of Jesus Christ. This is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith.

In the Sanctuary behind the icon screen at the front is the altar. In front of crucifix above the altar hangs an eternal light which testifies to Christ as the light of the world. Behind the altar are two circular sculptures on which are engraved six-winged angels that represent the angels that surround the throne of God. Along with the tabernacle on the altar, which holds the elements of communion, that is the body and blood of Christ, is a gold-covered gospel book. Only the priests and other ordained clergy are allowed in the sanctuary.

The screen at the front holds several icons. This screen, known as the iconostasis, separates the worshipers from the Sanctuary. Two large chandelier-like stands are placed in front of the icon screen. You will observe that before the service, worshipers approach the screen, honour the saints in the icon by kneeling, kissing them, and crossing themselves. The two gold doors in the middle of the screen are the royal doors. When the communion elements are carried from the altar to the people, Christ the King enters through these doors.

Hindu Puja (Ritual Worship)

11:00 a.m. 6421 Cork Street, Halifax (just off Oxford Street)

Guide for Guests: Visitors remove footwear and wash their hands on the first floor, and then are escorted by a volunteer to the main temple on the second floor. Men sit on the right side and women on the left side. At 12:20 guests will be asked to introduce themselves. Guests can do Arati, the showing of lighted lamp to God. Guests have the option to take the holy drink which is a mixture of milk, honey, sugar, etc. After puja (ritual worship), a gourmet vegetarian meal follows on the first level. Guests will be introduced to the executive board of the Temple.

Interfaith Celebration

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 5440 Spring Garden Road, Halifax Paul O’Regan Hall (in the Halifax Central Library

Co-sponsored by the Halifax Central Library, this is a time of music, prayers, dancing, and displays from diverse traditions and paths.

Click to download 2019 Guide for Guests

Click to download 2019 Calendar of Events

Click to download the History and Evolution of IHH

Click to download Sacred Spaces Policy and Procedures