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Vancouver School of Theology

Director’s Annual Message

Iona Pacific Inter-Religious Centre needs your support for our continuing work to develop, model, and disseminate best practices in interreligious cooperation, focusing initially on Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Indigenous cultures, in addressing critical local and global issues. When Vancouver School of Theology established Iona Pacific, it made a commitment to provide Iona Pacific with seed funding. The worldwide economic collapse tested the resolve of the School’s leadership, but its vision to create an operationally integrated, complementary, but programmatically autonomous inter-religious Centre alongside its dynamic Indigenous Studies Centre was sustained by the firm belief that in the twenty-first century we must learn to work together more productively across religious, cultural, generational, and institutional boundaries. We want to report to you a few highlights from our first year of operations, as well as note a few highlights of plans for Iona Pacific: an interreligious centre where education and praxis meet.

Our educational initiatives include degree and continuing education programs:

• 2 new unprecedented graduate degree programs in Indigenous and Interreligious Studies
• 1 new postdoctoral research fellowship
• new summer and winter courses in 2010 and 2011
2011 Iona Pacific Visiting Scholar Dr. Amyn Sajoo: prominent political philosopher, editor of the Muslim Heritage series, and the University of Victoria’s 2011 Distinguished Lecturer in Islam. His 2011 summer course at Iona Pacific will be “Faith and Modernity: Islam in a Secular Age.” His Public Lecture on July 12 is “Public Islam: Citizenship, Identity, and Anxiety”
• 3 new winter term courses
• a multi-disciplinary course, “Religion, Spirituality, and Social Action,” in partnership with the Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University in the Fall of 2011 for 20 undergraduate and graduate students taught by three professors: a world-renowned bee scientist, a distinguished educational philosopher, and an academic rabbi
• a public wellness program downtown
public lectures downtown and at Vancouver School of Theology
presentations at universities, colleges, and various religious communities
• a volunteer-designed website, a Facebook site, and a new semi-annual newsletter, Iona Pacific Compass

SOCIAL ACTION PILOT PROJECTS: Our social action initiatives focus on systemic poverty, youth leadership, refugees, and inter-religious dialogue, including:

successful federal, provincial, and private foundation grant applications to establish parenting and dialogue workshops for Muslim-Christian-Jewish mothers of elementary school-age children and teenagers
• a sustainable food initiative in partnership with a local indigenous band
leadership development programs, including a dynamic interreligious and multicultural university youth team, Iona Pacific Youth
• a bridge-building, university student-produced documentary film production on student religious life
• an inter-religious micro-finance initiative
• an inter-religious arts initiative launched by a DJ duo of university students: one Jewish and one Muslim
guests speakers on environmentalism and poverty
• an innovative project to welcome UNHCR-status refugees to our communities, our Province, and Canada
• a new initiative to promote interreligious cooperation in prioritizing the issue of extreme poverty’s effects on women’s and children’s health
• inter-religious dialogues and trialogues

To support our programming, VST has provided us with office and meeting space on the second floor of its Iona Building. Iona Pacific has one full-time employee (a Director), whose work is supported by an incredible team: Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Rosa Sevy, Senior Intern Aliya Hirji, Iona Pacific Youth, two interns from the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Additional operational support is provided by VST staff. Our work is sustained by growing numbers of key institutional partners and individuals in the community, both on campus and off, throughout the Province. We are gaining ational and international attention for our innovative work. The vision that brought many of us together at our Inauguration was the right one.

VST’s Faculty, led by its Principal and Dean, and its Board of Governors established Iona Pacific. The economic collapse did not deter them, but we need your support to guide and to sustain the work of the Centre in the coming year. We have a detailed, three-year Strategic Plan. Our funding goal for 2010-2011 is $85,000; we are already nearly 25% of the way there. I am a donor to Iona Pacific. Will you please join me in helping the Centre achieve its potential with as generous a gift as you are able to offer? Thank you for your support.


Robert A. Daum, Rabbi, PhD
Director, Iona Pacific Inter-Religious Centre