Days of Meaning Interfaith Event


By John Goodell

             On Sunday, December 6, 2009, in the afternoon, an interfaith planning group of clergy and laity that calls itself the Children of Abraham Planning Group held an event called "Days of Meaning: Shabbat, Sunday, Jum'ah"  at Temple Israel in Vestal, NY.  Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell of Temple Concord in Binghamton, Imam Kasim Kapuz of The Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier in Johnson City, and the Rev. Monica Styron of First Presbyterian in Binghamton made presentations on each faith's "day of meaning," that is, its primary day of worship.  The presentations were followed by a short period of questions and answers, then attendees convened in small groups for discussion and sharing. 

            There was a mix of persons from each faith in each of the 11 groups, with facilitators from a variety of congregations.  For an hour, persons shared their own experiences of worship and how it related to their everyday lives.  The emphasis was on sharing, understanding, and respect for each person and each tradition.  Conversation was followed by a lavishly spread table provided by Temple Israel.  The event concluded with a very moving ceremony to which we were called by the blowing of the Jewish shofar (ram’s horn), the Imam chanting the Muslim call to prayer, and the Christian invocation, “The Lord be with you.”  Nearly 150 persons participated.

             The Planning Group originated from the Wyoming Conference Shared Leadership Table under the leadership of Dick Thompson.  They planned the first Children of Abraham event that occurred in a tent at the Mosque of the Islamic Organization this past May.  There are still several United Methodists in the Group--Blenda Smith, Gary Doupe, Hudda Aswad, John Goodell--but it is now completely a community/interfaith-based group.