Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Seminarian Retreat: Sharing our Faith Traditions

Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Seminarians meet in Texas to Discuss Religions
Written by Dina Malki, Seminary Retreat participant, 2014

Past Participant Drew Love's Blog: A Christian Learns to Pray

"I found it comforting that many of the challenges and problems within the Baptist denomination are the same difficulties that are being faced in other traditions. This kind of dialogue is wonderful because it enables us to fined a common bond of faith."

Kate Whitney, Past Participant

"Issues surrounding the Jewish and Catholic faiths were discussed at great length and to much appreciation. The opportunity to dialogue with those who view faith differently is certainly rare and valuable. The week provided a place where misconceptions could be clarified in faith traditions where I had made assumptions, but also provided a place in which I could clarify my tradition and background. The enrichment of such a week will be made clear in ministry as I cannot approach people of different traditions the same as when I came, even if the former approach was more than adequate. The fact remains, when one encounters others of different view with humility and love then the person engages in life with others. Thus,
friendship forms bonds worthy of people who call themselves children of God. For me, this is the case of my experience here. I know now more clearly the conception people have of my background and the work necessary to clarify the discrepancies. Moreover though, I appreciate my niche in the body of Christ more thoroughly through this weekend."

Jack Bodenhamer, Past Participant

"I always come away with a deeper appreciation of my own faith tradition but a deeper appreciation of others in their relationship to the Lord. In our tradition we talk a lot about unity but do not act on it. This presents a challenge to act on our words."

The Late Charles King, Past Participant

"I enjoyed discussing issues such as homosexuality and the role of women in ministry as it is dealt with in various religions and denominations. The opportunity to interact with the other participants was an invaluable experience that has made my seminary experience unique."

Emily Rigsby, Past Participant

"Ecumenical dialogue and understanding is not part of my required seminary education. I think it is critical to understand other’s faith traditions, beyond and within Christianity, to create a better world for all. I enjoyed the small group discussions and hearing the perspectives of others, especially the gentle respectful way we supported each other in our dialogues. My new perspective is that there is room for all of us and that we all serve a need and are all doing God’s work. My appreciation for our interconnectedness has grown."

Gena Davis, Past Participant

"At my school, there is no opportunity to study other religions, but I know in my work in the rabbinate, I will need to interact effectively with clergy members from other faiths. This retreat provided me with an opportunity to learn about these other faiths and to help me overcome some of my own fears and prejudices about other religions. I was really amazed to learn how the different Christian groups are struggling with the same issues as my own religion. I heard the same arguments and concerns about entertainment based services vs. traditional worship and homosexuality as I do in my Jewish seminary. Hearing these parallel discussions helped me understand that Judaism is not as different (or at least as wholly different) as
other religious groups. Thank you for this great opportunity."

Risa Weinstein, Past Participant

"As a woman from a tradition where women are still fairly limited in their leadership roles, it was interesting to meet women from other faith traditions. Also, it is always reassuring to see that your own tradition is not the only one with issues and problems, and to realize that perhaps your own aren’t so bad. I especially liked the opportunity to interact with and question Jewish & Catholic students, as those traditions are more unfamiliar to me."

Brooke Hollingsworth, Past Participant

"The main issue that seemed to stand out to me was that of women’s ordination. Being Catholic, we obviously do not ordain women and it was so beneficial to sit and talk with a number of women about their lives, feelings, and perspectives. A great treasure I take away is a more realistic hope for the ecumenical movement. I seemed to share a skepticism with my contemporaries on whether the ultimate good of the ecumenical movement, namely unity, could ever be met. With them, I came to understand that dialogue, building tolerance, and working to build up our communities and cities together is a wonderful goal of ecumenism while we await a much more distant and difficult goal."

Eric Clarkson, Past Participant



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