Sunday marks the kickoff to education hour at my church, and once again I am co-teaching our church school’s fifth-graders. Last year was the first time I participated in the Lectionary Children’s Episcopal Curriculum — and I really enjoyed it.
Now, with the all the changes that have taken place nationally and locally since last year, I am going into things with a sense of caution. I am thinking about the importance of how we teach and what we teach young people about our faith — but also about others’ faith traditions.
My question to all interfaith communities is: How are we communicating to younger people the importance of respect, cooperation and interaction with other faith groups? Can we explain to young people why this is important in making a strong, cohesive society? With so many things vying for their attention, why push them out of their comfort zones? Are we making interfaith knowledge a fun and engaging endeavor or framing it like a chore? I do not know the answer to these questions, but I do know that we need to be creating the next generation of interfaith leaders.
On Sept.17, the Constitution of the United States turns 230 years old. Constitution230 will be celebrated at Grange Park in Centre Hall. This celebration and education event on our foundational document will feature booths on many elements of the Constitution, as well as a large array of community groups, food booths, musicians and speakers.
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For example, the very first sentence of the First Amendment to the Constitution establishes what we know as freedom of religion. Do you understand why there is a “wall of separation between church and state” in this country, and how it came to be? Do you know why it is still such an important part of our history, culture, politics and law? Interfaith Initiative will be at this event, in the First Amendment freedom of religion section, helping explain the history and meaning of all this. We would love for you to join us.
In order to work with young people, we need to work on ourselves. We have to understand our institutions, if we expect the next generation to embrace them. We can come from a place of humility in our learning — so that we convey to others that we are all growing in our faith daily, as well as growing in our understanding of other people’s spiritual journeys. We also learn from youth, realizing that they are at the beginning of their own journeys and can help us see our scriptures and liturgies in new ways.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams
Michele Hamilton is a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Interfaith Initiative Centre County. She is on the staff of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, a member of Centre County Soroptomist and president of PA National Organization for Women, working for social justice in Centre County and beyond. For more information on local interfaith activities, email: InterfaithInitiativeCC@hotmail.com.