World Religions Conference 2006 - Speakers


Judaism / Christianity / Hinduism / Islam / back to Conference Main Page



Professor Sarianna Metso, Moderator

Dr. Sarianna Metso is Associate Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and the Department of Historical Studies (UTM), specializing in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Jewish literature. 

She is a native of Finland, and holds the Doctor of Theology from the University of Helsinki. She has previously taught at Trinity Western University in Canada and Albion College in Michigan. She has also studied in Germany and England, and was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Notre Dame. She has lectured on the Dead Sea Scrolls at Oxford, Cambridge, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, Princeton, and Chicago. 

Additionally Dr. Metso has authored over 20 articles on various aspects of the Qumran Community Rule. She is currently working on three book projects, The Rule Texts (Sheffield Academic Press), Leviticus (Oxford Hebrew Bible series at Oxford University Press), and Wisdom Books (The Bible at Qumran: Text and Interpretation at Brill).


Rabbi Michael Stroh, Respresenting Judaism

Rabbi Michael S. Stroh is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Har Zion in Thornhill, Ontario, and is the Executive Director of the Toronto Board of Rabbis. He is past-president of Arzenu: International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists and ARZA Canada. 

He has served as President of the Toronto Board of Rabbis, a member of the Reform Movement Commission on Adult Jewish Growth, the Reform Practices Committee and the Sustaining Education Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Israel Advisory Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto. He was a chair of the Reform Round Table of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which dealt with questions concerning the content of Reform Judaism. 

He has taught at the Schools of Education and Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the University of Waterloo, the St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto, and the Rabbinical Seminary of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. 

He now teaches regularly in Kolel: A Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning. He is married to retired publicist Celia Stroh. They have two children, a daughter Samantha and a son, Jonah.


Rev. Herbert Harms, Representing Christianity

Rev. Herbert Harms is a clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Eastern Synod, and is serving as interim chaplain at Trinity College of the University of Toronto since January 2006. 

He has served as the Lutheran campus chaplain at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus for three years prior to his current position.  He has also worked as a chaplain in a detention centre and different health care facilities here in Toronto and has served congregations in Winnipeg and Saskatoon as parish pastor.


Pundit Suraj Persad, Representing Hinduism

Pandit Suraj Persad is the President and Spiritual Advisor of the Hindu Dharma Mission (HDM) (Canada). He completed theological training in 1969 and has been a qualified Hindu Minister since then. He is also a qualified Hindu Chaplain and recognized as a qualified Clinical Chaplain in both Canada and USA. He received the Clinical Pastoral Education training from the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (Canada). 

As a Hindu Chaplain, he has been affiliated with the Hospital for Sick Children since 2001 catering to the specific spiritual and religious needs of Hindu patients, parents and staff in the Hospital. Pandit Suraj Persad has also been directly involved with spiritual and religious care in other Hospitals, Universities and other publicly funded Institutions in Canada for over twelve years. He has been the Hindu Minister and Hindu Chaplain at the University of Toronto since 1992. Pandit Suraj Persad is currently a High School Teacher.


Mr. Naseem Mahdi, Representing Islam

Naseem Mahdi is the National President and Missionary In charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Canada , since 1984. He graduated from an Islamic University, covering teachings of Islam, Comparative Religions and Arabic. Prior to his appointment to Canada he was the President of Ahmadiyya Communities in Switzerland, Austria and Italy . 

He is recipient of awards for his dedication to public service irrespective of religion or creed. Each year he speaks at Universities across Canada and other public events to share knowledge of Islamic teachings and their place in contemporary society. Naseem has worked tirelessly to bring faiths together and arrange forums that emphasize the common teachings in each religion. 

In addition to the leadership role in the Community, Naseem Mahdi is the President and CEO of Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA), Canada - a 24hr satellite service that broadcasts educational and religious programs in seven languages around the globe.





home  |  newsletter  |  events  |  contact us