In a recent interview project with Christian congregational leaders, I heard repeatedly that they found navigating interfaith spaces a challenge. They worried about unintentionally offending their neighbors. They were anxious about what they did not know about the other person’s faith or tradition. They were unsure how to find common ground or common cause between traditions. In this Weekly, we look at what it means to work in interfaith spaces and how several organizations and congregations are finding meaning in doing so.
- We begin with a story of interfaith advocacy groups working together in Washington, DC, to serve the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
- Then we travel to Tallahassee, Florida, to see how an interfaith panel of clergy and congregational leaders engages in public dialogue about the most controversial issues of our common life.
- Next, we explore how conflict is a vital part of interfaith conversation and why resolving it quickly isn’t the goal.
We’ll conclude with an update on Alban’s leadership and let you know about some exciting changes ahead.
Welcome to the Weekly!
Interfaith advocacy groups collaborate to help the nation’s vulnerable
Partisan divides may mark politics in Washington, DC, but faith-based lobbyists there find ways to work together for the greater good.
An interfaith clergy panel models civil discourse
Can people debate issues such as abortion, gun control and police brutality without anger and division? The five clergy who make up Tallahassee’s “God Squad” say it’s possible because of the friendship and faith at the core of their long-running civic experiment.
Conflict is healthy and can promote interfaith understanding
In an interfaith setting, resolving conflict as quickly as possible isn’t the goal. Rather, healthy conflict can be a spark that leads us to self-awareness, self-reflection and transformation, writes the director of North Carolina Central University’s Office of Spiritual Development and Dialogue.
From the Alban Library
In the Face of Difference: Congregations Building Understanding and Cooperation
By William L. Sachs
Encounters with difference are the measure of faith, as how a person of one faith approaches persons of other faiths reveals the heart of religious conviction. Christian congregations are often ill-equipped to respond to differing religious perspectives. Most are hesitant, many are prejudiced. “In the Face of Difference” offers a basis for constructive response, demonstrating how one can honor people of another faith by living fully into one’s own faith.
William Sachs examines how Christians can maximize their spiritual growth through a genuine exchange of ideas and inspiration with those of other faiths, focusing on encounters between Christians and Muslims. By providing a clear and concrete blueprint for congregational leadership in new social circumstance, Sachs charts a course for overcoming major religious prejudice. He demonstrates how bridges can be built by applying the ideals of love of God and love of neighbor, and how faithful people can translate religious ideals into reconciling realities.
Before you go…
It has been my pleasure for the last seven years to be a part of a team that has stewarded and extended the legacy of the former Alban Institute. There have been hundreds of Alban Weeklies, almost four dozen new Alban books and a number of online and in-person learning events. Across these years, I have been reminded repeatedly how much I appreciate the gifts of congregations and their leaders.
I have made the decision, though, to leave Alban at Duke Divinity School and create a consulting firm, Saison Consulting. In many ways, this decision is a continuation of the work that I have loved most at Alban — deep engagement with organizations, congregations and their leaders over time.
In the months and years ahead, I look forward to seeing where Alban goes with new leaders and new voices. I’ll be reading the Weekly and the new titles in the Alban library. I hope you will, too.
Below, Dave Odom, the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, provides an update on the future of Alban and the Weekly.
Peace to you!
Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity
In February 2014, the chair of the board at Alban Institute approached me about Duke receiving part of the institute’s legacy. For almost 30 years, I had benefitted from Alban as a pastor and consultant, so I wanted to do something. One of my first moves was to talk with Nathan about leading Alban at Duke. He has masterfully steered the Alban Weekly and Alban books. He has discovered a passion for consulting that matches his love for pastors. He is moving into that work full-time and with our hearty thanks.
In the tradition first articulated in Project Test Pattern in the 1970s, Alban will take some time during this transition to look again at the needs of congregations and pastors. We will enlist a few pastors to guide the Weekly as we discern the next steps.
In my years of supporting Nathan in this work, I have noticed the resilience of the congregational champions who read the Weekly. We will continue to serve you while in the midst of transition and discernment, in much the same way that the congregations you love have both served and learned in pastoral transitions for generations.
Executive director, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity