Differing faiths shouldn't disrupt goals

Living and growing

Posted: Friday, February 11, 2000

It was quite early on a Monday morning when I realized at about 4:45 that I was not going to go back to sleep no matter how tired I was. I stumbled out of bed and into the shower to begin today. A part of every Monday for me is a review of what happened the day before in our time together as a church and then a time of scheduling meetings and phone calls, many based on what happened during our time together on Sunday.

This morning what directed that time of reflection and planning was not the schedule of meetings and phone calls, although there was plenty of that to do today. My mind kept going back to the time in our service where the members of the group gathered to share with one another their joys and concerns. Each week we celebrate births and birthdays, engagements, weddings and anniversaries, concern for friends and family members who are ill or in the middle of life's transitions and concerns for the world around us.

While the individual concerns and joys are on a list on my desk, what strikes a resonant chord in my heart this morning is the fact that the concerns and joys are so common to each of us. For almost seven years now I have heard the joys and concerns of the people in the Douglas Community United Methodist Church. For the past 18 months I have had the privilege of serving as a guest speaker and consultant for the Juneau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as well. The way the two groups choose to express their faiths are quite different and even the concept of believing is different between the two groups. What is in no way different between the two is the fact that they rejoice over the same events in the lives of their neighbors and friends and for the world in which we live.

I find great hope in the commonality of our joys and concerns. As long as we have in common those joys and concerns I know that there are at least two groups of people who are trying their own ways to work toward such issues as world peace, the end of war, eliminating the causes of poverty and ending discrimination based on race, creed, status or sexual orientation. As long as we share the same joys I have no concern about the fact that the two groups choose to gather differently and to express their spiritual journeys in different paths.

What gives me even greater hope is that I know there are many other communities in our town that gather and also share hopes and dreams in common. Of course the larger the number of individual groups the greater the chance that we will begin to notice our differences more as well. But that may be okay. Difference lends variety in a world that would be pretty dull if such differences did not exist.

What we cannot allow to happen is to let our differences get in the way of working together on those things that we can do together. No matter what our faith background we can work together to solve the problems of homelessness, hunger and poverty. And together we can work to end the interpersonal problems of prejudice and indifference.

Across the artificial boundaries of denominations, nationalities and income levels there is a non-boundary associated with our human nature and our basic needs for love, nurture and respect. Together we need to pledge ourselves to erasing those lines that we have drawn that separate us from each other. Together we can choose to live peacefully as a community that does not allow hatred, bigotry and prejudice to stand in the way of working together to serve and love one another.

This evening at the Northern Light United Church we have one more way of coming together, across our boundaries. Dr. Brian Goldberg, director of the Anti-Defamation League's Pacific Northwest Regional Office will speak on ``How To Create A Prejudice Free Community - 101 Practical Ways to Achieve This Goal.'' Please join our brothers and sisters of the greater Juneau Community and come together.

If we believe that one person makes a difference, imagine what a whole community can do together.

The Rev. Kim Poole is the pastor of Douglas Community United Methodist Church.

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