Kaleidoscope Project Encourages Inclusive Campus Community in Alberta

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Rev. Paul Verhoef, Christian Reformed campus pastor at the University of Calgary in Alberta, was one of the organizers of the recently launched Kaleidoscope Project helping students become more interculturally inclusive.

“If you’ve been at the Faith and Spirituality Centre lately you’ve seen that we have a description of ‘pluralism’ posted on our wall,” said Verhoef. Pluralism involves moving beyond the acknowledgement of differences to understanding, action and respect to build a better world. “It’s slowly becoming a central idea around which we as staff and chaplains operate,” he explained. 

Growing out of that description, The Kaleidoscope Project was organized by the Faith and Spirituality Centre to encourage a more inclusive campus community through the experience of religious diversity and the development of religious literacy. It was influenced by theologian Miroslav Volf’s book Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World.

Verhoef was part of a group of 16 university students who retreated together during reading week in February to discover rich experiences within six faith traditions: Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam.

For each faith tradition, the group listened to an introductory lecture by a religious leader and then visited local sites associated with that community. Over the week, they visited 12 sacred sites and ended each day with discussion and reflection. They explored recent Canadian cases where religious practice intersected with the public sphere. For example, What are some of the perspectives around having a Sikh kirpan (a small ceremonial dagger) worn in an elementary school? Who might be invested in a decision to allow the Muslim Call to Prayer to be projected in a small, historically Polish Catholic town? Meals together also played an important part in experiencing different cultures.

As part of a research project, students completed the Intercultural Development Inventory. It indicated that many of them had moved 30 points—on a continuum—toward intercultural competency and inclusion.

At the end of the week, one student said, “The Kaleidoscope Project is the single most inspiring program that I have ever come across to learn about religious diversity in a safe and immersive environment.” Another said one of the most important insights for her was learning to ask questions and not shy away from hard conversations. “Being in the presence of others who are so curious yet respectful and courageous to ask questions taught me a lot as to how I can do it too.”

Verhoef said that learning about other religions has strengthened his own faith. “In my 11 years of working alongside of chaplains of other faiths (Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and other Christian denominations), encountering religious diversity has strengthened my own faith commitment both by highlighting differences like unconditional grace, covenant faithfulness, and Gods’ sovereignty, and challenging me to grow in places like faithful prayer and focused attention or meditation on God’s Word.”

About the Author

Janet Greidanus is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

See comments (2)


"Kaleidoscope" or "pluralism" The exact contradiction to the cross and Christ alone for Salvation.

"Jesus said to him,'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

" I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you into the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again:If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? (Galatians 1:6-10)

"The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! "(Psalm 135:15-18)

"Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings." (Hebrews 13:9)

"You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)

"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." (Ephesians 5:11)


These comments may be slightly prejudicial since Paul is my son but his mother raised him and his siblings well!!  It's important to note the definition of pluralism in the article.  Please note too the final paragraph which I see as a testimony to what happened to Paul's faith in the process.  Good stuff!!!