Last June, I had the privilege and the honor to attend the Religious Diversity Leadership Workshop at Hartford Seminary. During the week long intensive program, I sat with around 30 individuals from a variety of faiths as we learned about each other and our communities, studied cases dealing with interfaith leadership, and in some moments simply discussed matters of the day as it pertains to religious and non-religious interaction.
It was a wonderful experience which I wrote more about here.
I would recommend that anyone with an interest in interfaith attend if they can. I came away from the week feeling enriched by the experience, and the stories I heard from others there helped to solidify my goals with respect to my own religious education and practice going forward. My conversations with a future Hindu chaplain as well as graduates from the New Seminary for Interfaith Studies helped me to realize that this is truly something that I need to pursue for myself in the coming years.
If I had one regret over the week, it would be that afterward we all returned to our own lives and our responsibilities and barring a few interactions on Facebook, largely these are people with whom I have not worked with since the workshop.
But, there’s one way that I can help out: by spreading the word about this year’s program. Two of my colleagues from last year’s workshop have produced a short video regarding it. Unfortunately, I cannot embed it here within the post, but if you click the following link, it’ll take you to the brief, one-minute advertisement:
One of the most rewarding things I had the chance to do was to share a little bit of my Paganism with the group. Introducing myself as a witch, the term I use as a self-identity, early during the week invited more than a few conversations with the others throughout. On one day–while visiting religious sites local to the area of Hartford, CT–I even had the opportunity to sit with a man from Singapore who was attending the workshop and shared with him some of the beliefs I hold dear. This Muslim man from the other side of the planet, because of our shared experience at this workshop, left with a different perspective on how at least some people use the terms Pagan and witch here in America and that’s not something that I could have shared with him if not for the workshop.
Another experience that stands out was my conversation on the floor of a Sikh gurdwara with a Jewish member of the workshop as we discussed her Judaism and why I left my own. The conversation was wide ranging; we touched on elements of her experience and my own and it helped me to understand more about myself. I often wonder if the rabbi of my childhood had been more like the one she described to me if I would have felt as disconnected from my Jewish community as I did.
I still sort of wish her rabbi was on Twitter. I collect rabbis on that network, you see.
If you have any interest in attending the workshop, or if you want further information, feel free to track me down. You can find me here, here, or send me an email here. Or, the organizer and host’s email and contact information is also available at the end of the video linked above.