The Greenville Table of Abraham - 2017
January 19th: Principles of Interfaith Dialogue Hosted by Nicholtown Baptist ChurchFebruary 16th: Sacred Texts from our Traditions: Hosted by First Christian ChurchMarch 16th: Sacred Practices of our Traditions: Hosted by The Upstate Islamic CenterApril 27th: Hope in the Midst of Violence: Hosted by Holy Cross EpiscopalMay 18th: World Peace to Peaceful Community: Hosted by Unity Church of GreenvilleJune 29th: Reflections: Where do we go from Here/Celebration: Hosted by Congregation Beth Israel
The Greenville Table of Abraham August 2015
Greenville Table of Abraham Celebratory Dinner on August 27th 2015. The following is an excerpt from the Committee Chair, Jane Brosnan's speech:
Our FIRST dialogue dinner was hosted by Unity Church of Greenville. We were mostly strangers and we introduced ourselves over dinner. Rev. James King introduced us to the orientation and some basic concepts of Unity Church. Then invited us to discuss religious orientation and how our religion affects the way we live.We didn't know each other yet and our beginning comments were somewhat tentative and careful. However, by the time we worked our way to consider how we treat those outside our faith community and how we might help create a more peaceful world, we had become quite vocal and were reluctant to stop talking. That evening we had begun to know each other better and to be aware of some of the similarities and differences in our faith traditions.
Our SECOND dialogue dinner was at Saint John of the Ladder Orthodox Church. Father Marcus Birch introduced us to Orthodox history and theology. Then Ken O'Shaughnessy asked us to consider the orientation of our own religious traditions toward faith, worship and scripture.
Our discussions reminded us of our common Abrahamic roots. We realized that the value systems of our three faiths are very similar in many ways.
Our THIRD gathering was at First Presbyterian Church of Greer. In our small group dialogue, we addressed our attitude toward and our practice of inclusion of a Presbyterian minister, and Dr. Akan Malici, a Muslim and a professor at Furman University and Rev. Andy Casto-Waters, discussed their friendship - which has grown through their common goal of bringing people together to seek understanding. Our evening ended with Dr. Malici's eloquent and passionate statement of brotherhood and with Rev. Ray White's beautiful and moving prayer for peace.
In March, our FOURTH dinner was hosted by First Christian Church. Rev. Johnna Camp introduced us to the history of Disciples of Christ and to some of the church's beliefs and practices. Our small group discussion addressed the Sacraments defined by our faith traditions, their meaning, and how we engage in these sacraments. This dinner marked the halfway point of our journey together and we had become much more comfortable with each other. At this point in our journey, the dialogue was more honest and we were less nervous about speaking forthrightly. AND, we had learned to listen more carefully.
Our FIFTH dialogue gathering was hosted by the Islamic Society of Greenville. Dr. Akan Malici spoke to us again. That night he voiced for all of us the fears we have about hostility and violence all around the world. And he voiced some of the fears of the Muslim community in this country. He made a moving call for us all to cooperate in working toward a more peaceful world. Our small group discussion addressed how our religious traditions seek understanding and peace. The final question we addressed is one that is being asked in some form or another by people all over the world: How important is religion in making the world a better place?
Our SIXTH AND FINAL dialogue dinner was hosted by Temple of Israel. Rabbi Jeremy Master spoke about worship in the Jewish tradition and educated us about the scrolls on which the scripture is written. In our small group dialogue, we were asked to address our religious tradition's attitude toward community and human nature and to consider whether our tradition felt a sense of responsibility to work toward peace.
That night I looked around and saw people who were congenial, hospitable, searching, excited, accepting and respectful........people who had listened and grown in understanding during our year together.
Chair, Upstate Interfaith and Intercultural Committee
Thank You Dinner for Greenville Table of Abraham
The Greenville Table of Abraham 2015
"The Greenville Table of Abraham held their last meeting for the year at Temple of Israel, hosted by Rabbi Jeremy Master. A wonderful selection of food was put out and all enjoyed their evening discussion while learning about the Jewish Religion. These six groups have met every other month for the past year and shared insights and knowledge from each of their religious backgrounds. Growing together and getting to know eachother is one of the main goals of the Table of Abraham."
ATLANTIC INSTITUTE INTERFAITH & INTERCULTURAL STEERING COMMITTEE
The mission of the Atlantic Institute Interfaith & Intercultural Steering Committee for the upstate is to support, coordinate, develop, and initiate Atlantic Institute interfaith and intercultural efforts.
GREENVILLE TABLE OF ABRAHAM PARTICIPANTS 2014 - 2015
First Christian Church
First Presbyterian Church of Greer
Islamic Society of Greenville
St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church
Temple of Israel
YEAR-LONG TABLE OF ABRAHAM
The Atlantic Institute sponsors year-long Tables of Abraham, which bring Jews, Christians and Muslims together for long-term, meaningful dialogue. Participants come around the friendly atmosphere of the table to talk, share and discuss their religious beliefs and traditions.
Just like the one-night Tables of Abraham we sponsor, participants in a year-long Table of Abraham learn about each others' beliefs, traditions, outlooks and hopes. The vision for our year-long Tables of Abraham is that through consistent participation during the year, we will get to know each other through honest dialogue, we will gain a deeper understanding of each other's religious orientation and through this journey we will form lasting relationships. And maybe we will be motivated to help others have this same experience.
Each Table consists of approximately 40 participants from six religious organizations representing the three major Abrahamic religions and also a number of representatives from the Atlantic Institute. We seek a balanced representation of all three religions. There will be a dialogue dinner every other month for a period of twelve months. The same people will participate in all six dialogue dinners. Each religious organization will host one dinner and select the topic for the evening. This topic, which will be briefly presented after dinner, should help participants learn more about the host's faith and traditions. The host-facilitated dialogue to follow will be inspired by the previous presentation of the topic.
CLEMSON-SENECA TABLE OF ABRAHAM
On Thursday evening, January 22 the year-long Clemson-Seneca Table of Abraham celebrated the remarkable journey they have made together during the past year with reflections, a sense of deep meaningfulness. gratefulness, sadness and laughter. Over half the participants have decided they will continue the dialogue together. The evening's introductory remarks below remembers and honors the path their journey has taken.
We came together for our FIRST dialogue dinner right here at Saint Mark United Methodist Church. We were mostly strangers and we introduced ourselves over dinner. Jeff Childress, Saint Mark's Minister of Congregational Care, used visual aids to present a simple introduction to the concept of the Holy Trinity. This is a difficult and complex concept and we appreciated Jeff's clarity in a very short time period. Then Jeff invited us to discuss how we experience God. Our dialogue helped us begin to learn about each other and made us aware of similarities and differences in our faith traditions. We were participating in Table of Abraham because we wanted to learn and grow through dialogue, but we didn't know each other yet and hadn't learned about the dialogue process, so our dialogue was somewhat tentative and careful.
Our SECOND dialogue dinner was at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, where Father Bob invited us to reflect on Abraham, our three faith's common ancestor, and on Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, who so profoundly influenced Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Through dialogue, we identified the virtues most prized by our faith traditions and considered how we live out these virtues and pass them on to the next generation. Our discussions reminded us of our connection through our common Abrahamic roots. We also became aware that the value systems of our three faiths are identical in many ways and similar in even more ways.
Our THIRD gathering was at Temple B'Nai Israel. We appreciated Dale's explanation of Jewish history, worship and vocabulary, and we enjoyed Sandy's tour of the sanctuary, where she introduced us to worship practices, ritual items, architecture and design. Our dialogue addressed how Jerusalem, the words of the Prophets and events in the Jewish Bible have meaning in Islam and Christianity and have helped form these faith traditions. Once again our dialogue reminded us of how our three faith traditions are connected.
By our FOURTH dinner at Trinity Baptist Church, we knew each other a lot better. There was lots of conversation before and during dinner. After dinner, Rev. Todd Wilson explained why he feels it is important that we recognize the differences among our faith traditions as well as the similarities. We shouldn't try to pretend differences don't exist; we need to understand where beliefs and practices differ and why. One of Todd's questions is pertinent to Table of Abraham's vision: "How does our faith equip us to live in a world of many faiths without losing the unique wisdom our particular faith brings to the table?" He invited us to consider specific differences in our faith traditions and whether they divide and threaten us or enrich us and enlarge our understanding. At this point in our journey, the dialogue was animated, honest and no longer nervous about speaking forthrightly. And, we had learned to listen more carefully. Our growing ease with and trust in each other was encouraging the development of more meaningful dialogue.
Our FIFTH dialogue gathering was at University Lutheran Church, where Chris Heavner, Campus Minister at University Lutheran, described the development of the Christian concepts of Afterlife, Eternity, Heaven, Hell and the Path to Heaven. He also reminded us to be careful. Often we criticize a specific concept of another faith tradition when our own tradition has a similar concept which we don't recognize because it's expressed differently. That night our dialogue addressed the concepts of heaven and hell in our faith traditions and how our understanding of these concepts affects our everyday life, our spiritual journey, our concept of God, our attitudes and our definitions of human beings. This was an emotional topic for some of us, but through a commitment to dialogue our responses were understanding and compassionate. Sometimes there are difficult moments in honest dialogue because it is meaningful and touches us in deep ways. Dialogue cannot be scripted.
Our SIXTH AND FINAL dialogue dinner was hosted by the Islamic Society of Clemson. Many in our group had been eagerly anticipating their first visit to a Mosque. Nedal promised unfamiliar and delicious food and the cooks fulfilled his promise. After Imam Mustafa's introductory remarks about Islamic beliefs and worship practices, Nedal directed our dialogue with questions about nurturing spiritual development, valuable spiritual practices and certain basic beliefs in our faith traditions. After a year together, we were comfortable with meaningful dialogue and we had so many thoughts to share that we ran out of time before considering all Nedal's questions. But that was good. The important thing was the dialogue. Meaningful dialogue cannot be scripted. During the evening, Nedal asked why the People of the Book cannot get along. Sadly, we had no answer to that question. That night I looked around and saw people who were congenial, hospitable, searching, excited, accepting and respectful ........ people who were deeply involved in a dialogue journey.
This journey we have been on is so meaningful for all of us. And the ripples flowing out from our dialogue and our understanding are meaningful for our community and for our world.
We have learned to appreciate meaningful dialogue.
We have found that we can share ideas, beliefs and disagreements without being disrespectful or confrontational.
We have learned that our differences don't have to divide us.
We have been enriched by learning to understand and appreciate our similarities and our differences.
Thank You Dinner for Clemson-Seneca Table of Abraham
Atlantic Institute in conjunction with Hillel Foundation at USC, Methodist Student Network at USC and Muslim Students Association at USC had its second Table of Abraham dinner on Tuesday, October 28, 2014, at Campus Ministry Center on the USC campus. We had a wonderful presentation on "Holy Books" of the Abrahamic religions and each organization described their Holy books to the group and then answered any questions the group had. We had dinner and desert from Jewish, Christian and Muslim Heritages.
The Greenville Table of Abraham has begun! A total of 6 organizations from the Three Abrahamic Religions met for their first time on September 11, 2014Participants from Temple of Israel, Islamic Society of Greenville, First Christian Church, First Presbyterian of Greer, Saint John of the Latter and the Unity Church of Greenville will gather every other month over the next year to eat together and learn from eachother.
The first host was Unity Church of Greenville led by Rev James King. The group of close to 50 people shared with eachother and answered questions such as: "What is the Nature of God?" "What is your Definition of Prayer?" and "How Can We Create a More Peaceful World"
These thought provoking discussions bring together people from various backgrounds and help to unify us by understanding eachother. We look forward to the year long adventure together.
An Exciting Adventure for our Clemson-Seneca Table of Abraham
On February 6, forty-one Jews, Christians and Muslims excitedly began a year-long dialogue journey together by participating in the first gathering of their Table of Abraham. The goal of Table of Abraham is to build a relationship of understanding between the three major Abrahamic religions. A shared dinner promotes fellowship and an informative presentation and group dialogue support education and understanding. Most Tables of Abraham gather people from the community to share one evening together.
However, the members of the Clemson-Seneca Table have committed to journeying together for twelve months. This same group of people from Clemson, SC and Seneca SC will meet every other month during 2014 for dinner and dialogue. They will be hosted by various religious organizations within the community. This first dialogue dinner was held at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Seneca. The vision for this Clemson-Seneca Table is that through consistent participation during the year, we will get to know each other as individuals, we will gain a deeper understanding of each other's beliefs, faith traditions, hopes, concerns and attitudes, and we will form lasting relationships.
During our first evening together, Rev. Jeff Childress, a United Methodist minister, led us in exploring the Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity, which defines God as the one God in three divine "Persons" or beings who have the same substance, the same essence of deity. He explained that Christianity defines itself as a monotheistic religion because it worships one God. Trinitarians believe God is infinitely more complex than we are and is not limited by a three-dimensional universe. Other Christian participants talked about their understanding of the Holy Trinity, which led to an interesting and enlightening group dialogue about how Muslim, Jewish, and Christian individuals in the group experience God. Some of the many experiences described were through nature, or meditation, or Holy Scripture, or ritual, or living as one should, or prayer.