Interfaith Class Offers Awareness, Understanding

May 13, 2009

Author: Crystal Lindell

Source: Northwest Herald

The students at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake started a recent evening with a Daoist meditation, then they discussed Christianity’s National Day of Prayer before learning that “Islam” roughly translates to peace, submission and security.

They are members of “Faith to Faith, Face to Face,” an interfaith certification course for lay people.

The class gives students an in-depth look at Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, while also briefly touching on other traditions, such as Baha’i and Native American.

“The goal is to develop interfaith confidence,” said Gilbert Friend-Jones, the primary organizer of the class and a senior pastor at the Crystal Lake church. “We say that it is more demanding than a Sunday school program and less demanding than a college university program.”

The two-year, four-semester program runs from January of this year through December 2010 and was organized through a coalition of local Islamic, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist faith communities, as well as an area hospital’s spiritual care department.

The 30 students represent a variety of beliefs, including Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and atheist, and are from various parts of the Chicago area. They range in age from 30 to 80, and include anyone interested in learning about the different religions.