Viewpoints: How do we create interfaith dialogue in our community?

Viewpoints is a weekly feature we’ll be running at WilmingtonFAVs. I’ll present a question to our writers first, post their responses here and welcome readers to respond, too.

Viewpoints: How do we create interfaith dialogue in our community?

Jenny Morris

“Years ago, I shared my Christian faith with a friend of mine. Then when she too wanted to explain her religious viewpoints with me, I resisted.

She was quite upset and asked why I was not willing to listen to her when she patiently sat and heard about Christianity. I did not understand why she felt the need to express her faith when I had just presented what I believed to be the most marvelous gift to humanity, the Bible and God’s love.

Since that time, I’ve learned an important aspect of respecting others and their faith is finding a common ground. As I look back at that conversation, I realize there were many shared truths between our two beliefs, but I was focusing only on the differences.  I should have been concentrating on what bound us together.

I enjoy intelligent discussions within Judeo-Christian denominations since we are both starting from a viewpoint that the Bible is the truth. So then, what benefit arises from interfaith dialogue?

In many cases, we have little accurate knowledge and possibly fear of another religion or denomination. Honestly discussing our faith perspectives opens the door to trust and kindness.

Pure religions value truth, integrity and love. This common ground can help solve challenges from community disagreements to worldwide crises. Peaceful outcomes derive from a genuine love between people, even if they don’t agree.

As a Christian, I want to follow Christ according to Jesus’ admonition in I John 13:34: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

Creating dialogue with our sacred spaces

Elizabeth Terry

“When considering this question of interfaith dialogue, I was reminded of the book, “Oneness Great Principles Shared by all Religions” by Jeffrey Moses.

Of particular interest is the chapter, “Follow the Spirit of the Scriptures, Not the Letter” where you will find: “Individual religious, just as different nations and cultures, have unique characteristics. But these characteristics are only the surface aspects. The fundamental principles at the heart of all religions – as those at the core of all cultures and nations—are universal.”

The core of interfaith dialogue is recognition of universal religious principles we share: helping others, an understanding that there are many paths to The Holy and we can do more together than we can do alone, to name a few.

Wilmington’s Interfaith Hospitality Network  is a wonderful project with the loving goal of helping homeless families in our area. Congregations rotate the hosting duties for families in need of emergency and transitional housing assistance. Throughout the country, congregations of all faiths act on their religious mandate to help others and to share resources.

One example of this community partnership is the Calvary Center for Culture and Community at Calvary United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. Located in a diverse economic, religious and ethnic neighborhood; Calvary shares their space with Grace Chapel Pentecostal Church, Kol Tzedek Synagogue and West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship and numerous community-based organizations.

This shared space arrangement reflects the culture of the neighborhood and encourages and fosters multicultural, interfaith dialogue and cooperation.”

What do you think? How can this community create dialogue between faiths?

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