“Caution: prolonged exposure to people of different faiths, spiritual traditions and religions can be habit forming.” Had this warning been attached to the invitation to become Cedars’ delegate to the Interfaith Council of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap (IFC), it wouldn’t have mattered. Once you’ve had a taste of interfaith work, it’s hard to resist, at least for me.
I had already been welcomed into NICO, the Northwest Interfaith Community Outreach before I joined the IFC three years ago. NICO sponsors an annual Interfaith Summit, and was instrumental in organizing the week-long visit of the Dalai Lama to Seattle. As our delegate to the IFC, I have helped coordinate several annual observances: Thanksgiving Services, the Community Read-In of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Holocaust Remembrance Vigil. These have been labors of love and community, and my life has been enriched by the effort.
I am looking forward to yet another interfaith adventure as a member of the Advisory Council of FAN, the Faith Action Network. FAN is a state-wide, faith-based, progressive political advocacy organization. I accepted their invitation eagerly—further proof that interfaith is habit forming.
What I have discovered through interfaith work is that engaging people from different traditions in deep conversation and teamwork for a common cause opens doors to understanding and appreciation. Interfaith activity allows us to put aside our differences, at least for a time. Together we forge a bond of compassion that transcends the silos of belief. I am a better person and a better Unitarian Universalist for it. It leads me to appreciate this brief passage from the Qur’an:
“We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other, not that you despise each other.”
The IFC encourages member communities to bring as many as three lay delegates to the council table. Today, I am Cedars’ only delegate, and I invite you to join our delegation. This is especially important now, because I will be away from Bainbridge Island for the January and February meetings. We meet for semi-structured conversation at 6:30 pm the first Thursday of the month. A light meal or snacks are usually offered by the host community. If you are interested, please contact me at email@example.com or by phone at (206) 780-0720. You can visit the IFC website to learn more.