The proposal for a Mosque near New York’s “ground zero,” riling hatreds and being battled over like the ball in a political football game without any referees, highlights our need for understanding “others.” The need has never been greater, and local clergy of Christian, Islamic and Jewish Minneapolis congregations will publicly address the issue beginning this year’s Minneapolis Interfaith Forums, the first session of which will be on Thursday evening, Oct. 21.
All too often we “misunderstand ” people of other faiths, like a football defense missing tackle after tackle on a 100-yard kickoff return. Understanding more about our different faith traditions has never been more important, which is why these annual Interfaith Forums focus on what our faith traditions tell us about our different understandings of social and theological issues.
Beginning Oct. 21, for five consecutive Thursday evenings, 18 faith-based congregations and organizations located near downtown Minneapolis join in a forum series about how we each focus and center our beliefs in the ways we address eternity, poverty, and interactions with our sacred texts and each other. Each week a different congregation hosts the week’s Forum.
The Forums aim to build community and unity, recognize and celebrate religious diversity, and help individuals grow in their awareness, understanding and appreciation of our differences and commonalities.
Forums are free and open to the public. Participants do not need to preregister, and while participation at all of the sessions is encouraged, it is not required.
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This year’s Forums kick off with a session asking whether and how New York’s “ground zero” controversy is serving as a test for interfaith relations even in our community, more than a thousand miles away. Subsequent sessions will look at our belief about life after death, how we are called to care for our planet, our various sacred texts, and our responses to the poor and new immigrants in our community.
At the foundation of these Forums is the Minneapolis Downtown Clergy Association’s collective belief that It benefits us all to know how our neighbors’ experiences of their various faiths influence how they think and act about these issues.
Forums start at 7 p.m., though participants are encouraged to arrive early for informal conversations and refreshments. At each session a panel of clergy will speak to each of their religion’s understanding of the week’s topic. Small group table discussions follow, and then the clergy try to answer questions from participants on the topic.
The Minneapolis Interfaith Forums were started in 1993 by Father Michael O’Connell, then of the Basilica of St. Mary and now at Church of the Ascenion, and Joseph Edelheit, then the senior rabbi of Temple Israel. Their purpose was to encourage open, honest dialogue between Catholics and Jews. That vision has grown to include many Christian denominations and the Moslem community.
Recent years’ Forums have addressed the various religion’s attitudes about sacred idols and icons, relationships to the holy city of Jerusalem, how religious communities influence and are influenced by social and political issues, and how they most directly interface with their religions in congregational prayer.
The 18 sponsoring congregations and organizations are: Augustana Lutheran Church, The Basilica of Saint Mary, Bethesda Baptist Church, Central Lutheran Church, Church of the Ascenion, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church,First Christian Church, First Unitarian Society, Gethsemane Episcopal Church, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church,Islamic Center of Minnesota, Masjid Al-Ikhlas, Masjid An-nur, Plymouth Congregational Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, St. Olaf Catholic Church, Temple Israel, and Westminster Presbyterian Church.
The clergy have also scheduled their annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service for Nov. 25, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, at 10 a.m.
More information on this year’s forum is at:
www.templeisrael.com/pdfs/Event – 2010 – Interfaith Forum.pdf
THIS YEAR’S FORUM SCHEDULE:
October 21, “Ground Zero: A Test for Interfaith Relations”
Temple Israel — Emerson Ave. South at 24th St.
Enter parking lot from Fremont Ave. or 22nd St. Building entrance is at southeast end of the parking lot.
Directions or information: www.templeisrael.com; 612-377-8680
October 28, “What We Believe About Life After Death”
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church — Hennepin Ave. at Groveland Ave.
Enter parking lot from Groveland Ave.
Directions or information: www.haumc.org ; 612-871-5303
November 4, “How We Approach Our Sacred Texts”
Central Lutheran Church — 12th Street at Third Ave. South
Park in the lot or ramp at rear of building.
Directions or information: www.centralmpls.org; 612-870-4416
November 11, “How We respond to the Poor and Immigrant Among Us”
Plymouth Congregational Church — 1900 Nicollet Ave.
Parking lot is on Franklin Ave. between Nicollet and Lasalle .
Directions or information: www. plymouth.org; 612-871-7400
November 18, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People”
Basilica of St. Mary — Hennepin Ave. at 17th St.
Free parking in the MCTC Ramp. Enter Basilica through the west entrance under the main Hennepin Ave. approach.
Directions or information: www.mary.org; 612-333-1381