With the celebration of Easter on Sunday, being in the midst of Passover, and not far from the beginning of Ramadan, I thought it a good time to acknowledge the significance of the faith community in Roanoke and some of the work being done to bridge the gaps in understanding with one another.
Meeting and Learning
The churches, temples, synagogues, Islamic centers, and other places of worship have long represented opportunities for the residents of Roanoke and visitors to come together and worship. Increasingly, members of these are coming together to increase understanding of one another’s faith and to seek ways to build lasting friendships. These efforts have grown from previous work of the faith community to provide help to recent immigrants, help heal racial divides, and meet basic needs of community members.
One such effort–“Changing the Narrative”–brings community members together around a meal and conversation focused on some of the most challenging topics of our times. Previous discussions have included truthful history lessons of race here in the Roanoke Valley, and teens confronting hate and prejudice. On Sunday, May 19, beginning at 6 p.m. at Temple Emanuel, a conversation about “sharing spiritual journeys” will be conducted. This event is designed to bring together people of all faiths to learn about and from one another, break down falsehoods about one another’s faith, and to seek commonalities in what we believe. This event is free and includes dinner, but does require registration which can be accomplished by sending an email to this address.
A second event is the “love thy neighbor interfaith breakfast” sponsored by the Roanoke Kiwanis Club. This event will take place May 2 beginning at 7:15 a.m. at the Kazim Shrine Temple, and features a keynote address by Rabbi Jama Pursur from Beth Israel Synagogue and singing by Bernadette Brown from Green Temple Holiness Church. As with the Changing the Narrative initiative, this event is the latest in a series of events that has brought together local Christians, Jews, and Muslims to share with one another the tenets of their faith and how they put it into practice. There is a $7 charge for this breakfast and registration must occur prior. Information about the event and tickets can be secured by contacting a member of the Roanoke Kiwanis Club or visiting their Facebook event page here,
Different But Together
These are but two current efforts to expand understanding and interactions among those of different faiths in our community. In addition to seeking out your own path based upon your beliefs, it may be advantageous to gain a better understanding of what your fellow Roanokers believe and why–after all we live together, work together, and play together. It seems to make sense that we seek to understand one another even better.
— Bob Cowell