Neighboring Faiths

by Scott Drew, Children’s Religious Education Teacher

January 17. The message of the Scripture reading from the Book of Daniel was that God speaks to us through dreams. And for the Pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church in Ewing, Dr. Vincent Jackson, it was the platform to discuss Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech in his sermon. Filling two pews in the front of the church were students, teachers and parents of UUCWC’s Neighboring Faiths class.

The music, the powerful choir, and the affirmations and “Amens” called out from the congregation were all expected elements of the service at this 105-year old Church just over 6 miles from UUCWC. But we weren’t prepared for the warm welcome and fellowship of this community. Sister Scurry greeted us as we entered the lobby, particularly Bonnie Gilbert, who she recognized from previous Neighboring Faiths visits. Everyone who passed us welcomed us with smiles and handshakes. For the students of the class, the hour-and-a-half service was a very different experience, including hymns, Bible readings, interpretive dance, and prayer. Pastor Vincent quoted Dr. King and hearing these words delivered by him in this setting brought a new depth of feeling to them. And after the service, lunch was provided to each member of the class and we were invited to join a birthday celebration.

The Neighboring Faiths program, part of the UU curriculum, is a year-long exploration of Religions of the World; and each segment is capped by a visit to a local religious community. At just over the half-way point of the year the class has participated in services at a Hindu Temple, a Synagogue, and a Roman Catholic Church. Each visit has been a unique experience for the twenty students in the class, and many thanks go to our Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Robin Pugh, for arranging these trips. With Buddhism, Islam and other religions ahead of us, we all look forward to our continued exploration. And by studying these faith traditions, each student gets the chance think not only about the beliefs of others, but also what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.

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