People of different faiths will come together for dinner and dialogue through an initiative being sponsored again by the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma.
The “Amazing Faiths” gatherings will be Nov. 14 in homes throughout the metro area.
Dr. Carl Rubenstein, Interfaith Alliance vice president and this year's program coordinator, said about 10 dinner groups met as part of the project last year, and he hopes to have more this year. He said 120 people participated last year, and about 14 faith traditions were represented.
Rubenstein, a member of Temple B'nai Israel, said the gatherings have been popular over the years as people begin to understand the premise of the “Amazing Faiths” project.
The small-group home dinners are facilitated by trained moderators using a model provided by the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance at Rice University in Houston. The institute started the initiative in Houston in 2006, and it has been adopted in cities across the nation.
The dinners are designed to help participants get to know each other and discuss common spiritual issues in the neutral, informal setting of a home.
“It's a setting in which people can comfortably express themselves without being debated or judged,” Rubenstein said.
He said the dinner groups will be kept to no more than 12 people. Each group is to meet for a second time in February.
Sarbjit “Sabi” Singh, Interfaith Alliance president, said the “Amazing Faiths” dinners are part of a series of events planned to keep the metro's interfaith movement moving forward after the recent visit of interfaith advocate Eboo Patel.
Patel spoke about religious pluralism and interfaith cooperation to about 800 people who attended his public lecture Wednesday at Oklahoma City University.
The Interfaith Alliance helped start several metro-area interfaith book study groups that read Patel's book “Acts of Faith” over the past several months. The book study groups, “Amazing Faiths” and other planned interfaith activities are part of the alliance's initiative called “Beyond Coexistence.”
Singh said other events planned include an interfaith panel discussion set for Wednesday at Temple B'nai Israel. The panel will include Imad Enchassi, imam and president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City; Singh of the Sikh Gurdwara of Oklahoma City; the Rev. Chris Moore of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ; and Rabbi Vered Harris of Temple B'nai Israel.
Rubenstein will serve as the event's moderator, and the panelists will explore the topic “Why do they do that? Religious teaching about improving our world.” They will discuss what various sacred texts say about improving the world.
Another event is the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving service set for Nov. 26 at Mayflower. Representatives of different faith traditions will offer prayers of thanksgiving and peace. A videotaped greeting from Patel will be shown at a reception to be held after the service.