In a time when religion is too often hijacked by extremists or manipulated by power-hungry politicians, we need to find ways of tapping the healing power latent in all our religious traditions.Read More
As we Jews prepare to symbolically go forth from Egypt once again to receive the Torah at Sinai 50 days later, and as Christians prepare for Easter and the Good News of the Resurrection, let us appreciate the saving grace in both faith traditions. For both are blessed by God, in ways we cannot fully fathom.Read More
In fostering interreligious peacebuilding, a Christian mediation role is helpful on two counts: to encourage polarized Jews and Muslims to find common ground, and to inspire Western Christians to make amends for their own bloody history toward the other two Abrahamic communities.Read More
In the summer of 2010, as the American midterm election season was heating up, one of the most controversial subjects of debate was the planned construction of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. Misleadingly dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque,” it became the focus of an ugly campaign to impugn the motives of those behind the Park 51 project, especially Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.Read More
The goal of most international cooperations is to be able to hand the work over once the teaching is done (think peacekeeping, agriculture, education) but the success rate, for a multitude of reasons, is not very high. That Roots in the Ruins has trained facilitators in seven countries, and handed the the training over to them, is not only an international success story, but a move that is integral to the program itself.Read More
Charlotte Wright, Resilient Congregations Program Director at the Brookfield Institute, has several ideas for how churches can act now to make sure they’re resilient in the future.
1. Get up and go forth. “It says this so many times in the Bible,” Wright says. “We’re always being sent by God.”
Something that’s resilient has the ability to spring back, says Charlotte Wright, the Brookfield Institute’s Resilient Congregations Program Director. It’s not a matter of building walls so nothing bad happens, but more a matter of rolling with the changes.
She cites three main characteristics she’s learned through her work with congregations that she says help ensure recovery.Read More
The Rev. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine, Ph.D., works daily with students — teaching, leading, guiding, talking and listening.
Yet she still wonders: How do we know the pulse of our students? What are they thinking and how can get them to talk about it?
She’s eager for an Oct. 26 symposium at Becker College’s Leicester Campus, “Can We Talk? Dialoguing Through Difference.” And the timing of the event is fortuitous, too, coming mere days before the 2016 general election.Read More
Congregations need to be ready for change, to be nimble and to have faith in the future. And that usually means sorting through the debris to find out what’s worthy of keeping.Read More
It’s a conversation that needs to be had, but it’s also frustrating, sometimes pointless and frequently volatile.
Now there’s help.
Yezhekel Landau and Joyce Schriebman have written “How To Talk To Just About Anyone About Israel-Palestine.” The 20-page booklet is intended as a “how-to guide,” Landau said, and is accessible and easy to follow. They wrote it for “people who care and want to make a difference.”Read More
Mary Lahaj’s parents were founders of the first mosque in New England, but Mary grew up knowing very little about Islam.
“I was 29 before I met another Muslim,” she laughs. The mosque, which took 30 years to build, wasn’t completed until Mary was a junior in high school. Since most of her friends in Weymouth, Mass., were Catholics, she saw no allure in attending services at a mosque her friends weren’t attending.
“I would have become a Catholic but they wouldn’t let me in,” she says. The Friday night CYO dances looked particularly fun.Read More
It’s similarities that stand out.
When Ruth Ann White took students from the United Parish of Lunenburg to visit a mosque and a synagogue, the things the three Abrahamic religions have in common were clear — down to the little children burning up excess energy.
“Just like the kids at our church!” White thought as two little girls ran through the Islamic Society of Worcester during prayers. “No one yelled at them for being disruptive, even though the rule meant these girls should have been upstairs with the women and girls because men and women pray separately.”Read More
The Jews and Muslims working side by side have built friendships and family ties — even in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks last fall.
One small but significant step the Boucherie de l’Argonne has taken is to close on Friday afternoons. The Muslim employees go to prayers and Jewish employees prepare for Shabbat. It’s a practical move that benefits both faith traditions.Read More
Lilly Love credits birds with saving her life.
The U.S. Coast Guard veteran, profiled in a recent New York Times Magazine story, said a white cockatoo with a red headdress caught her attention on one of her repeated trips to West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center. The cockatoo itself was an abandoned pet, as were the other exotic, colorful and chattering birds.
Turns out parrots are highly attuned birds, with brain skills and emotional responses quite like ours. They understand hundreds of words and use them appropriately. They “get” concepts like absence and boredom. And the parrots at the VA hospital in California had suffered trauma — twice actually. They’d been separated from their native habitat, then they’d been ditched by their owners.Read More
A 8.4-magnitude earthquake hit Chile in mid-September. The aftershocks — both geological and human — will be felt for months.
The Brookfield Institute has helped hundreds of earthquake survivors over the years. Our approach is humane, delicate, caring and needed. The 2010 earthquake was particularly traumatic and we were keen to see the effects and aftereffects from this one.
We’re happy that the Chilean government and emergency services were much better prepared and able to respond quickly and effectively this time. Elena Huegel, chaplain of the Shalom Center in Chile, says, “I am amazed at the differences in the responses to this earthquake compared to the one in February 2010. It is clear that the emergency simulations and the constant training of police officers, firefights and the general public has paid off.”
The Rev. Beth Horne loves the conflict transformation skills she learned in Walking in the Way workshops, but she loves conflict as well.
“If a church doesn’t have conflict, it’s dead,” says the minister of the 200-member Highlands Church UCC in Melrose, Mass.
Instead, what she values are the skills she learned — and continues to hone — in listening, talking and helping others to listen and talk.Read More
Shareda Hosein had an “amazing experience” with learning to listen early in her career. The retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves was working towards being credentialed as a chaplain, fulfilling a requirement in a hospital. "I was on call and so scare that someone would call me," she said. And someone did.Read More
Congregations and veterans — and their families — are a perfect for each other. It’s simply a matter of getting them together.
Our “Connecting With Vets: A Gathering of Congregations Serving Veterans and Military Families” event on March 22 will help get that started. Keynote speaker Paul Minor, a chaplain in the Massachusetts National Guard has some ideas to get you moving. Register today to make sure you and your congregation get all the information and tips you need.
Minor will share many more of his ideas at the event, but here’s a few to get you thinking:Read More