Interfaith Reflections – by Rev. Gwen Bernstine, United Churches Executive Director

The Interfaith Panel of United Churches Interfaith Dialogue Commission spoke recently at the Hughesville Public Library.   On the panel representing Islam was Zokaa Rajjoub, Judaism, Marvin Hurwitz, Christianity – Protestant, Rev. Jeffrey LeCrone (and committee chair), and Christianity – Roman Catholic. Makenzie Conner.

Working to develop understanding and respect for people who are of different faiths led the Interfaith Dialogue Commission of United Churches to host three panel discussions throughout Lycoming County this past week.

A four member panel representing the three Abrahamic faith traditions, Judaism. Christianity and Islam were represented on the panel to answer questions from the forty four people who came out to learn.

So many acts of violence have been perpetuated by people who think what they are doing is it in the name of religion. Each of the faith traditions represented spoke of the basic tenant or “golden rule” of their faith. “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” -Jesus, Matthew 7:12 (Christianity). “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor, This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary” -Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a (Judaism). “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself” – The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith (Islam).

In order to understand more about these three faith traditions several books have been lifted up for possible summer reading. Suggested are….
  • Joshua in a Troubled World: A Story for Our Time, by Joseph F. Girzone
  • Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi, and an Imam, by Ted Falcon
  • Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others, by Barbara Brown Taylor
  • The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, and A Jew – Three Women Search for Understanding, by Ranya Idliby
  • Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, A Collection of Essays Edited by Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee
  • The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews Christians and Muslims, by Rabbi Arthur Wasko, Sister Joan Chittister, Saadi Shakur Chishti.
  • Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise, by Eboo Patel

It is hoped that in the fall there will be some group discussions held around one or more of these books.