Interfaith work for teens: 4-30-09
April 30, 2009
The small group of teen-agers I was sitting with on the floor of the 3HO Kundalini Yoga Center in Midtown Kansas City included a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Christian and a Baha'i.
They had come to discover whether they wanted to help form a new Interfaith Youth Alliance, and they were talking about what approaches such an organization could take.
I found it immensely encouraging to know that young people are learning that they must get engaged in interfaith dialogue and understanding if our country is to find a way to live in harmony with a religiously pluralistic population.
When they arrived they heard members of the yoga center talk about their Sikh religion and why, as American converts, they had been attracted to it. But the teenagers in attendance weren't looking for religions to which to convert. Rather, they were trying to understand the faith commitments others make so they can be good neighbors to them and vice versa.
The adults who had gathered this group together, including Shannon Clark (she's the one in the photo whose face you can see), executive director of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, were trying to find ways that would engage more and more young people, so much of the Sunday afternoon session was devoted to brainstorming service projects and other types of activities that would draw in teens.
One of the national models for this is the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core led by Eboo Patel, who will be in Kansas City in November as part of this year's annual Festival of Faiths.
Are people in your faith community, if any, finding ways to learn about the faiths their neighbors and co-workers practice? If not, why not? Ignorance in this area is dangerous.
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GREENING UP SANCTUARIES
More and more congregations are seeking to create greener worship spaces, this report says. If people of faith can't be leaders in caring for Earth, something is really wrong. I was glad four or five years ago to be able to do a piece for The Kansas City Star suggesting that among those now much more actively involved in what's called "creation care" are Christians who identify themselves as evangelicals.