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  • Writer's pictureThomas Norris

Bridging Faiths: Our Interfaith Ministry

Updated: Apr 30


As the Senior Minister of a Universalist Church, I can tell you that an interfaith ministry is the heart of all that we do. Since we honor all the great spiritual teachers and traditions, our humble goal is building bridges with all people of faith. One of the reasons we have embraced a Universalist Faith is simply because we noticed that, when you break it down, all the great teachers have a similar message: Love Your Creator, Love the Gift of Creation, Love the Gift of Each Other, and Love the Gift of Yourself.


Consequently, it makes no sense to us why people are fighting over whose God or Goddess is better or whose teacher is more “right.” I mean, can you really imagine Jesus or Buddha raising a hand against each other, Moses and Muhammad getting into it, or Mary and White Buffalo Calf Woman squaring off? What would Buddha and Krishna do if they met on the road? They would bow to each other. What would the Goddess Kuan Yin do if she ran into the Goddesses Isis, Freyja, and Ostara? They would embrace each other as sisters. They would all recognize that they are messengers of the One.


The teachings of these great ones promoted peace, understanding, and compassion. Yet, so often, their work has been hijacked by later interpreters and so-called seers, becoming so distorted that it promoted slavery, division, and even war. I suspect that Jesus would have a hard time recognizing his message in the average modern church. Muhammad might have difficulty understanding the total misrepresentation of the word jihad by modern radicals since it was just meant to signify the internal struggle with one’s faith. Buddha might be puzzled at the umpteen different channels Buddhists have split into.


The point is that an interfaith ministry reaffirms their original messages of unity and love. As we say in our church, we have the gospel, too: We are all brothers and sisters! The Creator is the creator of all worlds, all nations, all peoples, all creatures, and all that is. Why would such a wise and enlightened being or divine force favor one of its creations over another? In our understanding, all are loved equally. Following the lead of the beneficence of the Creator, our interfaith work and dialogue is to equally love, respect, and honor the people of faith worldwide. That does not mean we will agree with every theological difference or perspective. We don’t need to. It is enough to respect our similarities and our differences. As an aside, I might add that we do not disrespect people who do not share a faith. If all are equally loved, then we must appreciate the free will right of our atheist brothers and sisters to their philosophy.


In our interfaith ministry, we acknowledge two levels of engagement. The first is the ministry that literally involves the clergy and leaders in a particular faith: ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, gurus, llamas, priestesses, and so on. They often take the leadership in developing interfaith alliances and programs. The second group includes all the followers of a particular faith. We suggest that Martin Luther’s concept of the “priesthood of all believers” has some relevance here. In this view, all people were involved in a faith ministry, whether farmers, laborers, artisans, or clergy. Along those lines, In our Universalist Church, we assert that all humans have a higher purpose, a ministry, whether it is being a plumber, parent, politician, teacher, banker, or artist. It is part of our faith work to contribute something positive to the world in whatever we do.


The International Guild of Certified Spiritual Counselors and Coaches is part of a larger interfaith ministry. Anyone who chooses to enter this new field and provide holistic spiritual counseling and healing has made this part of their higher purpose by definition. It is naturally a field of service and love, whatever their particular faith. At the same time, other aspects of our interfaith ministry involve coursework and certification for people seeking their higher purpose, a ministry, under the umbrella of our Universalist Church and interfaith ministry.


Join us in building bridges, tearing down walls, and teaming with all our sisters and brothers in the blessed work of ongoing creation and raising the love consciousness of our beautiful world.


Blessings.

Tom

Rev. Dr. Tom Norris

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