One of our group bloggers, Jason Derr, recently emailed me a news release (see below) about the launch of an interfaith partnership for action and justice work called FaithsUnited. I was so moved by the initiative — especially the opening program called the Scripture Exchange Program — I thought it worth sharing here. As I read the plans for their interfaith scripture-sharing, I was reminded of many of my own experiences of “lectio divina” (divine reading) with a theologically-diverse group of individuals, and the power those times of prayer had for melting away the usual divides, and instead building bridges of understanding between folks of radically different perspectives.
In group lectio divina, one scripture passage is read aloud, and meditated on silently, followed by each person sharing how the scripture has spoken to them, personally and particularly. In this group prayer practice, one very important “rule” is that when each person talks, the rest of the group listens without interrupting, correcting or reflecting back. And as each person ends, the group returns to prayer, holding that person’s experience as sacred. When we hear each other speak of the Holy in our lives from a deeply personal place, I’ve more than not found that compassion replaces judgement and hearts are softened and opened. We see the other as one with an equally valid and important faith experience, however different it may from ours.
I look forward to hearing from Jason about how the program went, and what was “learned” from this communal scripture-sharing with other faiths. And if you’ve had a similar positive (or negative) experience of sharing scripture with others of different perspectives, I invite you to share your experience below so that we all might benefit from your learnings.
News Release — FaithsUnited to Launch
In light of recent troubling developments such as the protests over Cordoba House and the Koran burning pastor in Florida, FaithsUnited
is excited to announce their launch. An initiative of the Progressive Christian Alliance, Religious Freedom USA, Birmingham Islamic Center and Chairs for Dialog, this partnership intends to sponsor a social networking site for interfaith action and justice work Faiths United will be Vision Centered and User Generated.FaithsUnited
will initially launch on August 14 with its opening program the Scripture Exchange Program. This program will use social networking to bring together small communities of people from multiple faith traditions who will promise to feast together on Sept. 11th 20110 in protest of the Florida Koran burning pastor. Interfaith friends and participants in this venture will share their favorite scriptures and why they are important to their personal faith journeys. What this is not about is debating each other’s theology. It is instead about listening deeply to our passion and love for holy scriptures. Further initiatives are also planned between the launch of FaithsUnited and the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. As a grassroots social network the FaithUnited leadership will help encourage, sponsor and develop user generated, interfaith action ideas.