Evolution of interfaith friendships led to powerful experience of ‘trialogue’

Interfaith6-web-696x472Elyse Goldstein, it seems, is a popular preacher at St. Anne’s Anglican Church, in central Toronto.

“My people love Elyse’s preaching,” Canon Gary van der Meer, incumbent at St. Anne’s, says with a wide grin. “Oh my goodness, if I could just have her fill in for me whenever I’m sick, the church would be full.”

You might say she’d be an unusual choice for a fill-in Anglican priest. Goldstein is in fact the founding and current rabbi of City Shul, a Reform Jewish synagogue a 45-minute walk away. Then again, you might also call van der Meer an unusual choice to preach at a synagogue. But to the congregation of City Shul, he’s become a familiar face.

“I now know people by sight who are from City Shul, and they know me—they make a mistake and call me ‘Rabbi Gary’ sometimes, and I think it’s a big compliment,” he says.

For about three years, Goldstein and van der Meer, who is also the diocese of Toronto’s interfaith officer, have been doing a preaching exchange; Goldstein has been preaching at St. Anne’s on Christmas, and van der Meer at City Shul for the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The exchange was the natural evolution, they say, of an interfaith friendship they began more than five years ago, when van der Meer first approached Goldstein after his congregation had expressed a desire to learn more about other religions.

There are actually more than two members in this circle of spiritual friends. In early 2013, van der Meer met Ilyas Ally, the son of Shabir Ally—imam at the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International, a nearby mosque, and former host of Let the Quran Speak, a Toronto-produced television show on Islam—and the two discovered they shared an interest in interfaith relationships.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ANGLICAN JOURNAL 

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Tri-Faith Service in New York City

Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, one of America’s oldest Protestant congregations, recently held a Tri-faith event during a Sunday worship service.  You can watch it here:

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NEW YORKFeb. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Marble Church has been a pioneer in interfaith cooperation for decades. On February 3rd, as part of the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week, Senior Minister Dr. Michael Bosinvited Rabbi Rachel Ain from Sutton Place Synagogue, and Imam Khalid Latif, Executive Director and Chaplain for the Islamic Center at NYU, to talk about the future of faith and how it can work for the common good. Watch here: https://vimeo.com/315287385

The three religious leaders shared their thoughts on their own faith journeys, how religion is shaping our youth today, and what we can do to combat racism and hate in the world.

“People are seeking something. New York is a really big place where even though there are so many people you can feel alone and religion can give you that home base that so many of us need.” – Rabbi Rachel Ain

“The fundamental purpose of a house of God is that the attentiveness is not meant to be towards the house but towards God…God’s gatherings are based on principles of inclusivity, not exclusivity – whereas many of our gatherings are not just based on who we let in, but who we keep out.” – Imam Khalid Latif

“There is this provocative statement that was made 300 years ago by Jonathan Swift, the writer, poet and pastor; He said, ‘we have just enough religion to make us hate one another but not enough to make us love one another.’ This is a halting statement because I think we recognize there’s truth in it and in the same way the answer is also in it. The solution is not for us to back away from our religion. It’s to go deeper into our religions. That is what we have done today and I hope it provides hope for us all. – Dr. Michael Bos

LINK TO ARTICLE FROM PRNEWSWIRE

 

Muslim, Jewish college presidents focus on common goals with Christian educators

webRNS-Interfaith-CCCU1-020419ASHINGTON (RNS) —  Like most college presidents, Ari Berman and Hamza Yusuf care about giving their students the best education possible in the classroom.

They also want to support their students’ rights as people of faith.

Faith-based schools help students “to contextualize our lives in a greater mission, to have a sense of holiness about everything that we do,” Berman, president of Yeshiva University in New York, told a gathering of Christian college presidents in the nation’s capital last week (Feb. 1).

The Yeshiva University president’s comments prompted an “Amen” from an audience member.

Berman and Yusuf, president of Zaytuna College in California, took part in an interfaith panel focused on what faith-based schools from diverse backgrounds have in common. The panel, which also included presidents of Mormon, Catholic and Protestant schools, took place at the end of the Presidents Conference of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, an evangelical consortium of more than 180 schools.

Like their counterparts, both Zaytuna College and Yeshiva University aim to reinforce their religious traditions to a younger generation as they educate them in fields of study ranging from liberal arts to law, their presidents said.

They defended their institutions as alternatives for students of faith who may be met with hostility from college professors at secular schools who consider their religion to be superstition or fellow students who don’t understand their beliefs.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

‘We’re all children of Abraham’: The patriarch that unites Jews, Christians and Muslims

588e7b72a77c8.imageIn preparation for Sunday’s sermon, the Rev. Cress Darwin reviews the biblical book of Genesis.

He finds the story where God orders Abraham to leave his home and promises him numerous descendants comparable to the sand on the seashore and stars in the sky.

Darwin, who leads Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, admires Abraham for his obedience and faithfulness.

“The hope that I take is that if God can use some of these characters, he can certainly use us,” Darwin said.

Abraham isn’t only revered by Christians. He’s a central figure in Judaism and Islam as well.

While the faiths are unique in their religious beliefs, customs and practices, Abraham is the common forefather that shows the religions have a lot more in common than what some may think.

Abraham is considered the patriarch of monotheism. According to the story recorded in Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts, he was instructed by God to leave his native land where his family worshipped pagan gods.

Texts say that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. The former founded the Arab people from which the Prophet Muhammad came and founded the Islamic faith. From the latter, Judaism manifested and Jesus Christ is eventually born thousands of years later to initiate Christianity.

The faiths draw spiritual lessons from their elder who endured tests that challenged his commitment to God, including his willingness to sacrifice his son.

For Jews, he’s revered for his obedience. Christians say he was faithful like Jesus Christ. Muslims honor him for his submissiveness.

In the second annual James Sawers Jr. Speaker Series hosted by the Charleston Interreligious Council this week, Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., who teaches medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, will lead a session on Abraham’s importance across religious sects.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE POST AND CURRIER

Papal visit: Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi to mark a historic day for inter-faith relations – live updates

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History was made on Sunday when the wheels of Pope Francis’s flight from Rome touched down in Abu Dhabi. The Pope’s first day in the UAE will be a moment for all faiths to meet and build strong relationships based on religious tolerance.

Here you will find live coverage of the Pope’s visit from The National’s reporters across the UAE, as it happens. All times UTC+4

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5:12 Private meeting with Muslim Council of Elders begins

In a landmark moment for interfaith relations, Pope Francis will attend a private meeting of the members of the Muslim Council of Elders.

The meeting is expected to take between 30 to 45 minutes.

The National’s reporter, Sofia Barbarani, is at the Grand Mosque, at a uniquely quiet time.

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Sofia Barbarani@SofiaBarbarani

Pope Francis is at the Grand mosque in Abu Dhabi meeting with members of the Muslim council of elders. His busy schedule will see him end the day at an interfaith meeting this evening where he is due to give a speech. @TheNationalUAE

See Sofia Barbarani’s other Tweets

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17:08 Pope Francis arrives at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

A convoy of cars, carrying Pope Francis in the Kia Soul has arrived at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Pope Francis was met by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif University, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, who welcomed him to the mosque.

John Dennehy@john_denn

Pope Francis. Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

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16:55 Pope Francis’ arrival is imminent

The live stream of Pope Francis’ visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has now begun and his arrival appears to be imminent.

The pontiff will attend a private meeting with the Muslim Concil of Elders.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL 

Popes in the Middle East: Highlights of papal outreach in the region

.- Pope Francis is set to celebrate the first papal Mass on the Arabian peninsula next week during his Feb. 3-5 visit to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The pope’s Mass at the Zayed sports stadium on Feb. 5 is expected to draw at least 135,000 people. Many in attendance will be migrant workers from Asia residing in the UAE, a country in which 89 percent of the population are not citizens. It will not only be the first papal Mass on the peninsula, but the first public Mass in the country.

Since the Second Vatican Council there have been significant milestones in Muslim-Catholic relations in the region. Here is a look at some of the highlights:

First pope on a plane

The first time a pope ever traveled on a plane was on a trip to the Middle East. Saint Paul VI flew from Italy to Jordan in January 1964, making history as the first pope to leave Europe. Paul VI met with King Hussein in Amman before continuing his journey to Jerusalem.

First pope in a mosque

Saint John Paul II made history as the first pope to enter a mosque during his visit to Syria in May 2001. John Paul II went to Damascus’ Umayyad Mosque, which had been built in 715 on top of a fourth-century Christian cathedral said to contain the head of John the Baptist.

In March 2003, days before US President George W. Bush announced the official start of the Iraq war, St. John Paul II called for a worldwide fast for peace in the Middle East.

The Polish pontiff, known for his extensive papal travels during his 27-year pontificate, was also the first pope to visit several Middle Eastern nations, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY 

Mixed-faith marriage as a way of life in Muslim-majority Dubai

mixed-faith-marriageUnusually for a couple in Dubai, theirs is a mixed-faith marriage, with Mina – born a Catholic – choosing not to follow standard practice by converting to Islam when they tied the knot.

She is excited to be on the waiting list for the mass that Pope Francis is expected to hold on Feb 5, during the first ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula.

If she gets a ticket, Ali has promised to take over the child-care duties for their 14-month-old twin boys to make it easier for her to attend.

“It takes time to understand that every ritual and every habit is personal,” he told Reuters. “So adapting to each other’s rituals is really about giving the other person space to do what they need to do.”

Living in a Muslim-majority country, Ali has faced pressure for Mina to convert. “A lot of people ask so when is she going to be Muslim. It’s one of those things like, so when are you going to come over to our house.”

But he is mindful that even the Prophet Mohammad failed to convert his uncle, so “this is something that I cannot force onto somebody.”

 

He and Mina started off as business partners when they founded Dubomedy, a Dubai-based arts and comedy school, in 2008.

She remembers their wedding seven years ago as a fond occasion on which both their cultures came together.

“His family came out with the (ululation), Khaleeji (Gulf) music, and my family came out with the O Sole Mio, (Luciano) Pavarotti, you know we had a singer singing Arabic songs and an Italian song,” Mina said.

The couple also celebrate Christmas and fast together for Ramadan.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BD NEWS (BANGLADESH)