I was very pleased to read the article below in the Greenville paper. It talks about an event here just a few days ago. I wish I had known about it. I might have attended. I hope they have a follow up article. It is sponsored by the Interfaiths Project http://www.amazingfaithsproject.org/
As most of you know Bob and I are now living in the Bible Belt and have wondered how we would fit in. I had my first experience today at a neighborhood coffee and prayer gathering when my hostesses 15 year old daughter asked me if I wanted to welcome Jesus into my heart. I gave an honest answer but wonder how it will play out with the family. Of course there is much more to the story then this but would have to explain it in a phone call if you want to know more.
I also found this organization in Greenville and will put it on my “to do” list to follow up on. Here is the link to their web site http://www.interfaithforum-sc.org/
(formerly known as: Greenville Faith Communities United (GFCU))
Building Bridges of Understanding & Working Together for the Creation of a Beloved Community in the Upstate
This is the article on the Dinner Dialogues
As World War II was coming to a close a 24-year-old woman was joyfully preparing to marry her sweetheart, a dashing young Marine master sergeant, just back from service in the Pacific. As with any young bride she wanted her best friends to serve as bridesmaids — after all they had known each other since elementary school. They all were overjoyed to be a part of her wedding party, all except one of the young women. At the time her Roman Catholic bishop would not allow her to participate in a Protestant wedding.
(Here is Fay’s version of the above story and keep in mind that in 1964 a mixed marriage was between a Catholic and a Lutheran – I was raised Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, very strict. When I was about 14 I was at a church youth group meeting and we were planning a roller skating party. The topic of who else could come beyond our Nicollet Church came up. A town called Courtland is 8 miles from Nicollet and kids from both towns went to the same high school together. Naturally some of the kids from my church wanted to invite their boyfriend or girlfriend. Only problem was most of the kids in Courtland went to the Lutheran Missouri Synod Church. We were told they were not welcome. I also saw these same Missouri Synod kids asked to leave the youth church group. I think that’s when my questioning of organized religion began. )
During my years of growing up, every time my mother retold that story, her voice would quiver and now and again a tear would fall. Even as a woman of deep faith, she never understood how institutional religion sometimes builds walls between friends instead of creating bridges of understanding.
On Thursday, Nov. 13, Greenville will be joining eight other cities around the country in building bridges of understanding across the chasms that divide.
Interfaith Forum, partnering with Greenville Forward and Nexus Center, will be hosting an evening of interfaith dinner dialogues; we invite all people in our community to gather in homes around our city in small groups of ten or so to enjoy a simple meal, and to engage in moderated discussion about the role of faith and spirituality in their lives.
These dinner dialogues are for people of all faiths, and no faith. They are for all persons who are interested in making new friends across religious divides, learning about different religions and finding shared values. It’s not an arena for debate or proselytizing. Each gathering of participants is pre-selected to enhance diversity and is led by a trained moderator who guides and facilitates the dialogue so that everyone can feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts, beliefs and experiences.
Originally conceived in Houston by Mayor Bill White in collaboration with Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston and the Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance at Rice University, these “Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogues” have grown into a national initiative.
Mayor Knox White has proclaimed Nov. 13 as “Amazing Faiths Day” in Greenville as our community joins similar events taking place that evening in San Antonio, Austin and Houston, Texas; Oklahoma City; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Syracuse, N.Y.
Greenville is a leader in the Southeast in encouraging international development and welcoming new residents from around the country and around the world. We have a reputation of being a warm-hearted Southern city whose citizens care about each other. The Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogues can be a way to continue advancing and living out that reputation.
I can’t help but think that sharing a meal and joining in fellowship with people of other faith traditions, be they Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Baha’i or the various Christian denominations that call the Upstate home, is an opportunity to celebrate both the diversity and cohesiveness that makes Greenville such a distinctive place to live.