Lexington Interfaith Clergy Association (LICA)

This profile was last updated in 2014

The Lexington Interfaith ClergyClergy are the body of ordained men (and in some cases women) who are authorized to perform the priestly, pastoral, or rabbinical duties of the community—as distinct from the laity whom they serve. Association (LICA) is comprised of clergy and religious leaders from most of the faith communities in the Lexington area, including representatives from ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church., Hinduism“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of li..., JudaismJudaism is the worldview, the way of life, and the religious practice of the Jewish people, living in covenant with God and in response to Torah, the laws and ethics which guide the pattern of Jewish life. Jews today interpret their three thousand year ol..., IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... and Unitariana belief in one God that rejects the three persons of the Trinity that has much in common with the belief in the early Christian church about the superiority of God over Jesus and the Anti-Trinitarian writing that emerged during the Protestant Reformation... UniversalismUniversalism is a belief in universal salvation, that is, that all people are eventually reconciled with God and united in heaven. Universalists began organizing as a denomination around this core belief in 1793. They merged with the Unitarians to form th.... The group’s main focus is promoting comraderie and fellowship among the religious leaders in the community, through a series of monthly lunch and dialogue meetings.

Interfaith Solidarity Through Shared Meals, Dialogue, Worship and Action

The solidarity among the clergy in Lexington is largely a result of LICA’s monthly lunch meetings, where members meet informally for conversation over lunch and then attend a more structured meeting of the group that usually includes a dialogue or presentation from a member about his or her faith. Rev. Judy Brain, pastorA pastor (from the Latin word for shepherd) is a member of the clergy with responsibility for a particular congregation. For Lutherans, it is a formal title for a parish minister. of Pilgrim United ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... of Christ, said the relationship that exists among the Lexington clergy is a good base for addressing crises such as Sept. 11 and hate crimes. The group also leads worship services at the local retirement center. The group sponsors public events as well. Most prominent is the town’s annual interfaith Thanksgiving service, which includes readings from the religious traditions of those participating. Other events have included lectures (for instance, Pluralism Project Director Diana Eck spoke on the work of the project), panel discussions (on topics ranging from religious views of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenderTransgender is a term that refers to a range of unconventional relationships to gender. Transgender people do not identify with the sex and gender roles they were assigned at birth, and they may feel that their psychological gender and physical bodies are... issues to Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ”), and potluck dinners (to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, for example). LICA also initiated a town-wide project to build two houses for Habitat for Humanity. Rev. Brain said this initiative was effective in bringing the town together and creating links with urban communities.

‘Meeting Ground’ for Tough Discussions

As an entity representing the community’s religious leaders, LICA has been instrumental in addressing some controversies in the town over religion’s role in the public square. One incident members of the group remembered was a dispute over whether a creche (or ChristmasChristmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Since the fourth century this observance has been held on December 25 in the Western church. manger scene) should be displayed on the town green in December. According to Helen Cohen, LICA had recommended that the creche not be displayed on the green as far back as 1971, but the issue was never resolved. Years later, the issue resurfaced and it became clear that this issue was deeply divisive in the town, even among members of LICA. To respond to this situation, LICA created a group of about eight members of the community, representing a diversity of viewpoints on the topic, to discuss the issue. The group was called “Meeting Ground” and met for three months, with the direction of a discussion facilitator, funded by LICA. The group could reach no agreement except to shorten the length of time of the creche display from five weeks to just over two weeks. Since there was no consensus, the Lexington Board of Selectmen made their own decision, decreeing that no displays of any kind could be left overnight on the green.


The Lexington Interfaith Clergy Association has existed at least since 1971. (Current members were not certain of the actual “founding” date of the organization.) There was also a lay interfaith group in Lexington for a while, but the group was inactive by 1980, according to Helen Cohen. As the diversity of Lexington has grown over the years, LICA has grown and changed with it. What was once a Jewish-Christian organization now includes representatives from Islam and Hinduism as well. Rev. Brain mentioned that this involvement of non-Judeo-Christian traditions has come primarily since Sept. 11, 2001. After Sept. 11, the group made closer contacts with the Muslim communities in the area and a Hindu member joined the council (who is actually a member of the New England Hindu TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref..., located in Ashland, not Lexington). With this increasing diversity comes increasing sensitivity to differences within the group and the variety of faiths represented. For instance, the group previously sponsored a Good FridayGood Friday—the Friday before Easter—is the day observed by the Christian church as the day of Christ’s crucifixion. Christians keep this day in many ways: with prayer, fasting, or the veneration of the cross. service every year, but in 2004, the group made the decision to continue an ecumenical service among the Christian and Unitarian Universalist communities, but to stop discussing the service in interfaith meetings and to stop paying the organist for the Good Friday service with interfaith funds.


Representatives from Christianity (BaptistThe Baptist tradition includes a variety of Christian churches which trace their beginnings to the Anabaptist reform movement that rejected infant baptism insisting on the importance of baptizing only those who are able to profess the faith as believers., Catholic, Community of Christ, CovenantA covenant (or brit) is a mutual promise or compact between two parties. In the Jewish and Christian traditions, covenant is of deep significance in describing the mutual relationship of God and the people of faith. The major covenants in Jewish scripture..., MethodistThe Methodist church is a Protestant communion of churches which began in England with John Wesley (1703-91) and has become a worldwide movement. In the U.S., the United Methodist Church—one of the largest Protestant denominations—is known for its str..., MormonThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also called the Mormon Church, was launched by Joseph Smith (1805-44) who discovered a new revelation, the Book of Mormon, which became, along with the Bible, the “latter day” scripture of the new commu..., nondenominational evangelicalThe Greek word euangelion means “good news” and an evangelist is one who proclaims and shares the good news of Christ. Evangelism is the preaching and witnessing to that good news. Evangelicals are Christians who emphasize the personal experience of G... and Society of FriendsThe Quaker movement, properly known as the Society of Friends, had its beginnings in 17th century England with George Fox (1624-91), whose form of worship was liturgically sparse, relying on silence and the inspiring movement of the Inner Light, the spiri... (QuakerThe Quaker movement, properly known as the Society of Friends, had its beginnings in 17th century England with George Fox (1624-91), whose form of worship was liturgically sparse, relying on silence and the inspiring movement of the Inner Light, the spiri...)), Hinduism, Judaism (Reform and Conservative), Islam and Unitarian Universalisma belief in one God that rejects the three persons of the Trinity that has much in common with the belief in the early Christian church about the superiority of God over Jesus and the Anti-Trinitarian writing that emerged during the Protestant Reformation....