McMaster has countless faith-based clubs and organizations, but they lack a place to interact. For years, the creation of a multi-faith centre has been in the works, but these plans have not come to fruition.
“It gets talked about, but it doesn’t seem to happen,” said Reverend Carol Wood, a McMaster Chaplain. “Every group has to support their own religious advisor.”
“For a long time I’ve been interested in interfaith dialogue,” said Wood, an Ecumenical Chaplain. She has worked to create the Daughters of Abraham program, a group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian women.
The program arose from “some major tensions in years past…We worked to create some dialogue sessions to speak to some conflict areas,” explained Rev. Wood.
However, this still excludes men and those of other faiths from the discussion.
Rev. Wood looks towards the University of Toronto multi-faith centre as an example of the possibilities such a place could yield. The centre boasts a meditation space with a living green wall, a prayer space for 200 and a smoke detection system that can be altered to allow for traditional smudge ceremonies to occur.
However, explained Rev. Wood, the muli-faith centre at U of T was a “year in the procurement and implementation.”
“[Although] two proposals went out, and the [David Braley Athletic Centre] wanted to create an open space that would be a place for people to practice as well as a space for programming, and some unprogrammed times… a bit more money [was needed] than what was available,” said Rev. Wood.
Such space would “allow people to mix and interact, which I think is pretty important,” Wood said.
Dr. Liyakat Takim, Sharjah Chair in Global Islam said, “I think that’s a very important idea… we live in a multi-faith society, and that demands multi-faith gatherings.”
“It still won’t accommodate every single interfaith need…at least it’s a start,” said Rev. Wood.
While groups involved in the development of a multi-faith centre see its value, some students are not as keen on the idea.
One such student, Emily Wilson, said, “I think that different religions are really interesting, but I don’t think I would utilize a multi-faith centre, and I don’t think many people would.”
First-year Arts and Science student Liana Glass said, “I don’t think that people would go to things that are for a faith other than their own, except for people who are objectively interested in religion and not there for spiritual purposes.”