What does your organization do? We are a religious congregation that honors multiple spiritual paths and traditions. We celebrate the holidays, rituals, and practices of everyone who is involved in our community.
What do you believe? We believe that everyone encounters the sacred in our own way and that these encounters are important to us and deeply personal. We also believe that the teachings of all spiritual paths can lead us to seek a life of compassionate action. We are not interested in which religion or spiritual path is “right.” Rather, we recognize that we are all brothers and sisters, and that at different times and in different places, we have encountered the sacred differently.
Does that mean that you think all traditions are fundamentally the same? No. In order to respect all faith traditions, we must acknowledge our differences. To be sure, Christianity is different from Buddhism. Islam is different from Humanism. Hinduism is different from Judaism. Sikhism is different from the Baha’i Faith. But in each of these, the thing that is the same is the call to compassion, the call to think beyond ourselves, and the call to recognize that we are all connected. Living Interfaith calls upon us not to ignore our differences but rather to learn more about our own and other traditions, to respect them, and to realize that each of our paths – in its own special way – calls us to love and be loving.
That kind of makes sense, but if everyone encounters the sacred differently, why bother worshipping together? Because we believe that we can best learn from and about each other if we join together in worship. Reading about another person’s religious tradition is entirely different from attending one of their services. By sharing elements of our services, prayers, and practices with one another, we believe that we can best celebrate our common humanity.
How is this different from Unitarian Universalism? More than half of our services are geared to honoring a particular religious holiday or some aspect of one religious tradition (but that tradition rotates each week). This is different from most UU services because those tend to focus on the commonalities between all traditions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that model – in fact, some Living Interfaith services are set up that way, as well. But we tend to draw more from specific rituals and practices within our different traditions than UU does.
Why do you call yourselves “Living” Interfaith? We believe it is essential to practice what we preach: to live our Interfaith call to compassionate engagement with the world.
Are you the only Living Interfaith congregation? No. We are the sister congregation of the Living Interfaith Church in Lynnwood, WA. They have been joyfully bringing people together since 2010. Our minister-in-training, Cathy Merchant, was so moved by her experience with them that she decided to start another Living Interfaith congregation in her new city of Vancouver, BC.
Do you have a minister? Not yet, but Cathy Merchant is currently our minister-in-training. She worked as the Associate Minister of the Living Interfaith Church for three years and is currently attending seminary. Once she receives her Master’s in Divinity and gets ordained, she will officially be our Interfaith minister.
Who is involved in your community? The Living Interfaith Sanctuary is just starting out and has only had one gathering, so far, but at that event, we had participants from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Indigenous traditions. Our sister congregation also has participants from Taoist, Wiccan, Humanist, Baha’i, and atheist backgrounds. So long as you are not specifically coming to our services to try to convert people to your own tradition or to demean anyone, you are more than welcome to join us.
Are you gay, lesbian, and trans friendly? Yes, absolutely! Both Living Interfaith congregations already have LGBTQA members and would love to have more. We believe in the sanctity of all consensual, loving relationships and gender expressions. All are welcome!
What about kids? Can I bring my kids and/or breastfeed there? Yes, definitely! There is actually a wonderful kids’ play space inside the sanctuary, itself, so you can sit with your children and have them play during and after the service. Babies and children of all ages are welcome, and breastfeeding is completely fine. The minister-in-training will likely have her two small children with her in attendance each week, and they would love more kids to play with, if you’d like to bring them.
Do you have services every week? We meet every other Saturday at 10am so that participants are free to attend other services on the off-weeks. You can find our annual service schedule here. Our services are an hour long, and we have a social hour immediately after every service. All members and guests are invited to participate.
Where are your services? We meet at the Grace-Trinity United Church at 803 East 16th Ave, Vancouver, BC. This is at the corner of E 16th Ave and Prince Albert St., just one block off Kingsway Highway in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver.
Where should I park? There is a small parking lot just behind the church. If that is full, there is also plenty of free street parking all around the church. The area is also easily accessed via public transportation.
Tell me more! For more information, try us out! Join us for our next service, talk to members, and see what our services and our diverse and loving community are all about.