Interfaith Dialogue II

At the end of January I attended an Interfaith Educational Forum. The only thing I had to say when I blogged about it afterwards was how I reacted to seeing my rabbi without a yarmulke. (It was an interesting discussion on the Islamic, Christian and Jewish attitudes about Abraham, but unfortunately the Islamic representative had a very thick accent, and I was most interested in hearing what he had to say.)Recently I learned they had chosen Tuesday night as the night for an ongoing dialogue between participants from the three congregations. I wasn’t surprised that Tuesday was chosen since they asked those who attended the forum which night was most convenient, and the forum was on a Tuesday night.

The first meeting of the Interfaith Dialogue occurred last night. I had agreed to meet a friend who is in the group at the Methodist church at 6:45. Google Maps told me it would take 25 minutes, but I left at 6, figuring I should give myself a cushion in case of any remnants of rush hour traffic and since I had never driven to the church before. (I had been to the church once with this friend for a craft fair, but that was back in November or December, and I hadn’t driven.) It was a good decision.

I knew the address was on Woods Mill Road (aka hwy 141), but I didn’t know the intersection. Following the instructions I had printed out, by the time I passed 141 and Manchester, I decided I had gone too far, so I got off at the next exit, went back on the outer road, and found a Shell station. The individual behind the counter had no idea where the church was. I gave her the number of the address, and she had no clue how close or far away it was. I asked for the phone directory and called the church. Of course, no one answered. It wasn’t business hours. But their answering service told me they were on the corner of 141 and Manchester. I confirmed with the Shell clerk I was on the corner of 141 and Manchester. She nodded. She told me there were a couple churches a little south on 141, perhaps one of those. I was doubtful. That wouldn’t be considered the intersection…but I left the building, slightly worried I wasn’t going to find it.

As I exited, across the street, this is what I saw

Manchester United Methodist Church

After laughing, I thought about going back inside and pointing it out to the clerk, but decided to refrain. I had to figure out how to get there, which wasn’t easy, since there was a median I was unable to cross. However, I pulled into the parking lot at exactly 6:45, just as my friend was pulling in too.

The meeting was productive. We introduced ourselves to each other. We discussed what a dialogue meant, what to expect in the future, what we wished to discuss as a topic at the next gathering, and when the next gathering would be.

We’re not meeting in April because there are too many conflicts. (Passover and Easter, primarily.) Our first real dialogue will be May 10th. This is a Wednesday. Because it was discovered that there is a major women’s study group at the mosque every Tuesday night so if we wanted significant Islamic female participation, Tuesdays was actually a very bad night. (The polling they did at the forum didn’t reveal this, because obviously those who were at the forum were, by and large, not the ones in the study group). This made me happy because it meant I wouldn’t miss more writer’s group meetings due to this.

It’s nice to hear that there is an Islamic women’s study group — but rationally, I know this is the US and not Iraq, and I shouldn’t be too surprised.