One of the joys of my beginning a second year at this beloved congregation – for you and for me – is that we already know each other a bit. We have a sense of our relationships, how we approach projects and ideas, how we celebrate and mourn together. It also makes it possible to do something a little different, to try out an idea that – if it goes well – will enrich our personal spiritual journeys, deepen and inform our conversations with those not like us, help us reach out to the broader community, and engage our curiosity and wonder.
That idea is A Conversation with World Religions – a congregation-wide, year-long celebration of our sources and our faith. Each month, we will take up a major religion/religious diaspora – in addition to learning the tenets and practices, we will examine how they inform our Unitarian Universalism, and we will improve our interfaith competency as we develop better skills for respectful and expansive dialogue.
The programs (as outlined in more detail here) will include formal classes for children during the service and adults on the second Sunday each month. But that’s not all – we will have monthly movie nights and a monthly discussion over drinks, which will be advertised to the community. There will also be a book group, and some opportunities to attend services and celebrations held by people of other faiths. And we will explore some of the wisdom of these traditions in our Sunday services.
Why this idea now?
It began with the parents of our children, who wanted them to learn more about the world religions, but in a way that also deepens their own faith. One of the best ways to reinforce the lessons children learn is to have the same kinds of conversations happening in other church programming, adult classes, and in weekly worship. Additionally, many of us adults never learned about world religions – or have never put them in conversation with Unitarian Universalism. This gives us an opportunity to linger a bit, month by month, with some different ideas, beliefs, rituals, and cultures. And it will help us strengthen our own faith, as well as our relationships within this religious community and outside on the North Fork and beyond.
I for one am excited – and whether you dig in deep or dabble a bit – I hope you’ll enjoy our coming year together.