This article was submitted by guest blogger R.D. Pickett, author and ULCM Pastor
Interfaith ministry, are we up to the Task? This is an easy question right? Not really. In a perfect world I would say sure, but let's face it, we don't live in a perfect world. There are some reported 4300 religious groups that make up 270 large religious communities. There are 12 Classical Religions that include the "big 5" of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Despite participating in our respective faith communities, we must also interact with members of other groups.
When I become an ordained minister with the ULC Monastery, I thought that interfaith ministry would be fairly easy. Little did I know about the roadblocks that I would encounter. When I say roadblocks, I mean old dogma, old doctrines, religious prejudices, personal prejudices, under education and poor spiritual management, and the list goes on.
The oldest known organized religion, Hinduism, originated from somewhere between 1500 and 3000 BC. Wow, 1500- 3000 BC! Now in 2015, we have some 270 large religious communities. That is quite a base for which we need to work with in our endeavor to achieve an interfaith ministry which will encompass all equally.
I think that interfaith ministry is gaining more and more attention among people worldwide, because more and more people are seeing that the doctrines within which they were either raised, or that they practice just aren't keeping up with the realities of the world as we know it. Let's face it; most of the major religions date back to somewhere around 2 millennia ago.
Starting My Journey
Being raised Christian, I was content to go with the flow, as it were. I was baptized as a child, studied and was confirmed in my Lutheran faith. As I grew older I found that the Lutheran faith just wasn't fulfilling me as my soul needed. So, I studied some more and researched other denominations within my faith core of Christianity. I found the Church of England (Anglican). At that time the Anglican Church was revamping itself. Priests were allowed to marry and have families, and the Church was allowing women to become priests and was openly allowing gays and lesbians into the community. For a large, world recognized religion, this was huge. The Church, however, was still restrained by its firm belief in the Bible, and that is not a bad thing by any sense. After all, that is our Holy Book or Holy Guide as I like to refer to it. Each Religion has a similar book, which are too numerous to list, but I am sure you get the gist.
Our Holy Books are historical records of our faiths from the beginning, and in my case until about 33 years after Christ's Birth and a bit later, but not up to 1980 some odd years later. And the same holds true if I am not mistaken for pretty much every other Religion with of course the exclusion ( I don't like that word) of a hand full or so belief systems out there such as Scientology or Baha'i for example. These, by religion standards, are relatively new.
I still was lacking in my faith, but through research I found Shamanism. I believe in God, the One Creator of all things, yet I was able to expound my faith with Shamanism because God (or Grandfather as I now refer to Him since it is more personal as my faith says I should be) has taught me of my cooperation with Nature. After all we share this planet with other living things other than ourselves and must respect them as well. Perhaps I'll get deeper into that in another blog.
A New Era
Now, here's the thing, the world is not what it was 2 millennia ago. The world has evolved, and grown into something very different culturally as well as religiously. What would our ancient ancestors think if they were suddenly transported into today's society? Personally, I think they would freak out!
Since the creation of man, man has made his laws, laws that were contrary in a good deal of cases to their creators. In present day man's laws outweigh and are prevailing over the Creator's. Times are no longer simple; justice is no longer swift and fair. Right and wrong are becoming mere words with a dictionary definition. Each man is more concerned with what's best for him over what is best overall. Man is becoming numb to his surroundings, preferring to look the other way when he sees wrongdoing rather than get involved to make it right. Why?
With each passing day the way the world is evolving in its cultural and political make up. There needs to be a fundamental shift of thought. Life is becoming meaningless instead of precious. The notion of Good is becoming something that is not for the many, but for the few, and the one Me! Our evolution has taken us to the point of I care about ME. If it does not benefit ME, than I don't care! This needs to change, because if it doesn't, man will self-destruct, and take this planet with it.
Walking the Talk
I looked up becoming an ordained minister. And found the Universal Life Church Monastery. I went to the site and read about it. At first I wanted to be able to legally perform weddings. So, ordained I became. I wanted to see what other ministers were doing with their ordinations. I went to the ULCM Ministers Network site, which I am a member of today, and met some very interesting people. These folks come from very different walks of life, with a vast array of religious and spiritual beliefs. I have also met some folks who claim no belief system at all. I began to join conversations and added my 2 cents for what it was worth. I also saw conversations deteriorate due to the reasons I gave earlier such as personal prejudices and so on.
That's when the difficulty of the task of creating an interfaith ministry really hit me. Are we ready and up for it? Yes, I believe we are, and I'll tell you why! Because I go to bed with it every night, wake up with it every morning, and LIVE it every day. You see, as I stated I am a Christian, though my wife is not. Religiously and spiritually we are separated by belief, yet and here is the rub, we love each other. We respect each other's beliefs enough that we can have respectful conversations. She says nothing when I pray at meals and at bed time. At those times she sits quietly until I am finished before continuing on with conversation or what have you. On the same token, if she is in quiet reading of her spirituality and searching for answers through a medicine wheel, I do the same.
Our Faith conversations may become difficult, but they are always respectful. We have overcome our differences because we decided that building on our similarities was more beneficial to us both as individuals as well as our relationship together. Now, it really began to sink in interfaith ministry we are up to the task, but with conditions I believe we must meet. We must lay the groundwork, as it were.
Interfaith ministry is a new endeavor. There are a couple of handfuls of organizations that fall under this title, yet we here at the ULC Monastery are among the ground breakers in this ministry. Yes, ground breakers. We have a golden opportunity to promote peace and understanding among peoples of different faiths. As I mentioned the number of people searching for something more from their respective faiths is growing rapidly, and we are poised to seize the day, or in Latin, carpe diem.
The 5 "R"s of Interfaith Ministry
Personally I think that the ULC Monastery transcends the "Wedding Officiant "moniker and can become even more of a leader in interfaith ministry, and that is what I wish to be a part of more than ever. I have thought about this a great deal as of late. I have thought about this in simple terms we can call the 5 "R"s.
Respect; We as individuals must be respectful of the beliefs of others even if it differs from our own, because we each as human beings have the right to believe as we see fit. We also have to respect the fact that it is not our place to try and convert others to our belief system, because it is just that, OURS and ours alone. That is what gives us each something unique to bring to the discussion table.
Reconciliation; We must all reconcile within ourselves as well as each other the fact that we all have similarities as well as differences. And that we can all live together in peace if we utilize more energy on our similarities than we do our differences.
Renovate; We must all learn to tear down the walls that divide us by our differences, and construct avenues, and areas where we can build upon our similarities and strengths. Areas where we can build dialog between us, and lay the ground works for greater peace.
Record; We must keep a record of our victories as well as our failures in this interfaith endeavor as was done in the Holy Books, so that we have a historical transcript of what has worked and what has not worked within our ministry to attain our goal of peace.
Refuse; We must all refuse to allow those prejudices, such as, race, creed, dogma, gender, sexual orientation and personal judgements to hinder our goal. I think this is one of the toughest of the "R"s I have listed.
I believe we are up to the task; I believe we must be. Only through working together can we achieve peace. This interfaith ministry won't be easy, not by a long shot. But in the end it is very well worth our efforts. If we don't build upon our similarities to create a peaceful world on and in which to live, we will be consumed by our differences until there is no one left to try
Peace be OUR journey.
R. D. (Taz) Pickett
This is one of the best articles I have read here. We may and do all hold different beliefs but we are all striving for the same thing--a relationship with God, in whatever personification we choose. Yes, we are capable of interfaith ministry. The 5 "R" s are incredibly well thought out. Thank you so much for this post.
Thank you Susan, it is my belief that if we do not seize this opportunity to gather together to promote peace, we may pass up the chance to forever change our world for the better instead of what we have been doing....Making things worse.....
Thank you for your well thought through, meaningful post! It is a timely affirmation for me.
I agree, now if thru grace we can live a life that others can see and understand we all are on the same path. Allow our things we are more alike to bring us together than the difference drive us apart. The world would be a much better place.
Thank you so much for your comment Sue......:-)
I have been looking for the words to say this for many years.
Thank You Pastor Pickett
You are very welcome Pastor Ed. I am going to shift some gears to write more about Interfaith Ministry and promote Peace.......:-)...Thank you for your comments....
RD - I concur with your article! Also, it is a well written and is an extremely relevant article. I enjoyed reading it as it resonates with me quite well. I to grew up in a Christian church (Catholic then non-denominational, although I now occasionally attend a local Baptist church, but I am not Baptist). I have studied the bible in and out. By that I mean, what the Bible says and and other accounts as to where the historical information and alleged "facts" in it came from. As we know, the bible is the supposed inspired word of God - not his dictation. My issue is, some of the contradictions and variances in it, as well as the second and third hand accounts of these stories of the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Additionally, the manner in which the Bible was constructed from various book, many of which were left out mostly due to political and religious concerns, which when read seem relevant, but are suspect to me. It's like reading a story of my life written by others with some accounts being more thorough than others and then others deciding, after I die, what's relevant, true, appropriate, etc. Then we have some human "Kings" who decided to change the bible, yes even the King James Version, to reflects their preferences. I have also reviewed ancient Egyptian Allegory and find striking similarities in the stories we have in our Bible of a savior coming and the story of a virgin birth of the Savior, the resurrection, etc. Subsequently, now I'm even more unsettled and confused than ever. The truth is hard to find, as historical records are different, facts are blurred, and to have faith in all of this is almost impossible for me. Yes, I do believe in a Supreme God! My issue is, who is He? How did we really get here? Did we all evolve from Adam and Eve, or is it Adam and Lilith? We know humans have been here longer than 6,000 years as devout Christians believe. What is our purpose here, and where do we go when we die? Therefore, for me to embrace various beliefs seems on the surface seems to be logical in search of the truth, because what else do we have? But, where do we start?
CB, I am glad you asked that final question. I am working on a challenge blog on the ULCM ministers network at present and should be on the site sometime today. If you are a member there you may want to check it out. I am not sure if it will be here on the main site or not. I appreciate your kind comment.....Thank You.....R.D.
Thanks for your response RD - the pleasure is all mine. I'm also Ordained through ULC, but I still have to register with my County in VA to "attempt to get authority" to perform weddings, etc. It's more difficult here, but we'll see. Looking forward to your post.
Amen Taz!, if I may call you Taz, R.D.. And, most legitimate and reasonably informed concern cb in Va. After all, I think any reasonable religion would ,above all, follow the one rule, the "Golden Rule". To not get it "Lost In Translation",,,, do unto others as you would have them do unto you...Sounds real simple, but it's a life long learning process to master. Religion is a tool we can use to master it. However, the trick to mastering that, is the reigning in of the EGO. If that's not done, religion goes from a tool to a weapon, used for defense or assault, whichever ones ego is bent to, a WMD in some historical instances. I grew up Christian too. Had the Bible shoved down my throat, I was an R.A. president.[baptist boy scout, basically]. I memorized the Bible for merit badges. As I grew up I saw the same inconsistencys you did CB. So, I decided instead of just taking everybody's word for it I decided to research it for myself. Low and behold, I found truths in it vital to mastering "The Rule",buried in the mis-translations. So,,,one can't hide the truth from the true seeker. Yesterday, 27th, was my 61st b-day. I stopped in on the ULC today and found these blog and posts and REJOICED!!! I came from a long long line of Ministers. It's in my blood from both sides of the family, and I believe that interfaith religion, is VERY important at this particular time of evolution. I'm with you Taz. I was always at adversity with religious schooling, so I never became an ordained minister..I've always been anti WEB also, but as I said, reign in that ego. A friend made me a ULC ordained minister and I didn't even know it. I said WHAT!!!. he said check into it before you complain. It was a few years later that I swallowed my pride and got WEB capable, and checked into it. Two rules, promote religious freedom, and do good will, which sounds like a "Golden Rule" clause to me.So I rejoined, because I didn't even know who he signed me in as. Thank "The Lord"!
Thank you so much for your thoughts Terry, and welcome to our community. It is my hope that through my writings, that there may at some point be someone who has some authority to promote greater change. The more people of Interfaith like mind that can join in cooperation to this goal the better. I am working on an Interfaith Challenge at present. Though it will only be a blog I am curious to see the responses it receives....Thank you again....Peace \ /
Thanks for the reply R.D.. I'll be looking forward to any blogs. Have a few I'm working on myself. May I ask, what is the ULCM ?
Well the one I think you are referring to is the Ministers network which you can find a link from this site under find a minister.. But here is the direct link..http://ministers.themonastery.org/members/home
Tks Terry for taking the time to comment. I don't necessarily conform to religion, but spirituality seem to suit me better believing there is a God - Supreme Being. All the rest seems a bit subjective to me and somewhat self-serving to the particular religion advocating it. Look forward to seeing your further comments on all of this.
My sentiments exactly CB. I have sort of developed my own personal religion for my own personal development. Life is constantly changing, as am I, and does my religion, as the both conform to life, through experience. Thanks for the reply CB.
Yes, it's like buying and new suit - sometimes you try one on and it doesn't fit just right, so you keep trying others on until you find a suit you can live with. Then one day you don't like it any longer, so maybe you go get one tailor made for yourself. It happens to fit just right. With all the religions out there it's tough to figure out the best one for your, or if there is one that fits you.
Terry and CB, That is what one of the meanings of Interfaith belief in my opinion, The Religious world has begun to evolve. But it isn't Religion at it's base that is evolving at ant great speed, however Human beings are....We are in my opinion ( I'll shorten that to IMO) if that's ok, feeling more and more stagnated in our faith. So what do we do? We research and search for more... I am, as I stated a base line Christian yet have enlightened Shamanism into my belief structure. This has allowed me to move forward in my Spirituality which brings me joy. And the ability for me to be able to share with blogs like this, well being a writer thrills me greatly.....Not to mention making new friends...:-) Peace be your Journeys .......
Amen RD & CB, I was raised Christian, but I'm eat up with Indian blood, as they say, so I studied that religion also at length.I blended a religion from the 2, a long with all the other ones I studied. I put the Indian and the whiteman at peace in myself. It took the truths from them all to consolidate myself, and I find the real truths in all of them.
Terry - Glad you found peace and harmony in your own beliefs brother. Hang in there and stay true to your beliefs. Regarding the American Indians, I have always had much compassion in my heart for them as they were done an injustice and murdered by our govt and westward bound and expanding white settlers as we further encroached on THEIR land. What a sad story, and unfortunately one that repeats itself all over the world. The Indians had it right - live in harmony with the land, take care of it and it will take care of you. Abuse it and you destroy yourself and here we are. Take care!
Right on CB!
VERY good article! I would have to add that it would help if we could get past the Monastery hangups, with certain "words" and terminology, so we can actually have intelligent, constructive, and informative conversations and debate concerning subjects frowned upon by many, yet necessary for understanding and growing as an interfaith minister. As it stands, now, many of us have had to start discussion sites elsewhere, away from our monastery, in order to discuss these important topics.
There are many hangups Tony, and not only on the Monastery network. We must realize that those "Words" as you put it, are as a matter of fact part of our society. Politics is one that, only if it pertains to religion or spiritual growth should be allowed. There are many topics that do indeed pertain, however there are those who wish to turn the conversations to strictly political and steer away from the religious and spiritual topic that was originally posted. We all know how those conversations end up.
Intelligent conversation can happen without the need to violate the terms of service the Monastery has set forth. The real test to interfaith ministry is the fear of debate that we see so often on the Minister's network. Debate is seen as hostile, and participants are seen as undesirable, often being ostracized or removed from conversations. How does interfaith ministry move forward when its participants are only interested in the "me" factor, whereby if people disagree with "me", they are unworthy of further conversation? Working together and learning each other requires questions be asked and contradictions be clarified, or no real learning and growing in our spirituality can occur. Perhaps what we, as ministers. should focus on, is defining our own spiritual belief system; asking does this make sense to others, and will it stand up to questions? If not, perhaps we should focus on better understanding ourselves, so we can articulate our beliefs intelligently to others.
Thank you Mrs. Taz....As always I love your comments.....:-)
Thank you very much for your comment Tony...:-)
Certainly a worthy consideration and objective to achieve!
I am an Unitarian Universalist and I thoroughly enjoyed your article.
Thank you Tracy for reading and commenting on this article......:-)
One love, one heart. Let's get together and it will be all right....Bob Marley
I identify as a interfaith minister. Your 5 R's are consise and precise.
Thank you very kindly Gwen..I believe the 5 R's are necessary to have true Interfaith........
Although I've been ordained through the ULC since 2008, I hadn't spent much time on the site. For the last couple of days I've been reading blogs and their corresponding comments, finding far more divisive, accusatory and downright infantile comments than I would have imagined. I notice that some of the most vociferous offenders have not littered the comment section here, no doubt because your articulate, thoughtful and insiteful post resonates truth. This post, and the response it's received, has renewed my interest in the ULC immensely and my hat is off to you, Taz. Your promotion of an interfaith ministry is admirable and, I assume, at the heart of the ULC, which is, in reality, an interfaith community. The ULC has already provided the groundwork/network for this undertaking, along with a forum for discussion. I look forward to your future posts and hope that many others will find them. Our world is at the precipice with religious and racial discord rampant. The principle reason I became ordained was to have access to the "Pastor's Point" column in our local newspaper to encourage the various churches to focus on their similarities rather than their differences and also to encourage individuals to examine their beliefs with the courage to admit they may be flawed. I encourage all ULC members to use their ordinations to do something similar so we're not just "preaching to the choir".
Amen Brother John!
Thank you for your kind comment Brother John, All it usually takes is people opening their eyes and hearts, listening and most of all keeping quiet until they have something constructive and not destructive. That is a difficult task for many unfortunately. Also unfortunate, is that when one merely points out a contradiction they are seen as trying to make trouble......Thank you very much...Taz
I'm still surprised at the number of I suppose are fundamentalists that visit here. I think I'll simply ignore them and connect with those who are working towards the goals of unity, peace and acceptance. Other than that this is a great way to unite with like minded people of all stripes
Well John I am staying the path with Interfaith Ministry. If my words can make one person at least stop and think about living in peace with every belief. It is going to be a long and tedious road, but those of us who believe in it will keep chipping away at it. If my Blogs and writings can do that I feel as though I am living my service to Grandfather.....Peace \ /
Interactive article on additional to Pickett’s Articles Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availed anything nor UN circumcision; but faith which worked by love. Galatians 5:6. Remembering without ceasing you work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 1Thessalonians:13. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and Love which is in Christ Jesus.1timoty 1:14 What can be learned from the above scriptures is that Faith has its roots in hope; hope has its roots in relationship and relationship has its roots in Love. Therefore, Faith emerges from the bowels of Love. Faith pleases God. The greatest is Love for it is the foundation on which hope and Faith is built and Love never fails. Without faith, one cannot please God, which means without Love one cannot please God. Romans 13:10 for faith is an outgrowth of Love. Faith requires belief in “is of God” and that a relationship with God is possible that unequivocally yields great dividends Hebrews 11:6. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him” When faith is weakening it indicates that an individual is abandoning their hope. When one abandons hope, it indicates a failing relationship; a failing relationship indicates the absence of love. Love never fails.1 Corinthians 13:8. Faith is the fruit of Love. Faith is a process and not always present, abundant immediate or in season. However, whether one has faith presently or not Love never fails and will therefore, eventually bring forth faith. Otherwise, it is evident that one does not live in, nor possesses, love. Advanced (mature) stages of love have often driven people to give their life for another, for how great is the force. That is why love is the greatest. Love defined 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.Also read Colossians 2:6-7, Jemes 1:3-For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
I think we are ready love makes the world go around. No matter what religion you are. As the 40th president said Ronald Reagan, if we forget we are one nation under god, we will be one nation gone under. Who ever your god is, religion brings law and order as we no which helps us all in our everyday life....always remember that all 12 classical religions god-gods and messengers....Were universal teachers who all taught Love and peace...
Thank you for commenting both Frederick and Eykob, These are very good quotes and scriptures, however I would like your personal thoughts on this matter if you please......Thank You...Taz
I am an Ordained Interfaith Minister and Animal Chaplain, very much into the philosophy of Creation Spirituality (through the philosophy of Matthew Fox). I live on six acres in Florida and, since the pandemic, I have been moved to create an Interfaith Monastery here on my property. I am not sure if have the funds, or the ability, to do this, but I was wondering that if I do get it off the ground I would so love to make "The 5 "R's of Interfaith Ministry" as tenants. Is it possible to have your permission to utilize them? Peace and Everything Good, Rev. Margie Schneider Heart-To-Heart All Creatures Ministry