Our 7th-8th grade youth this year are visiting a Hindu mandir, Jewish synagogue, Catholic Cathedral, African Methodist Episcopal church, and Muslim mosque. The goal: inter-religious literacy, understanding, and respect across differences. The youth watch for bonds of kinship among people of faith, and wisdom for their own spiritual growth.
This fall they welcomed The Little Thunderbirds, a Native American drum and dance troupe, to our congregation. John Oakgrove led the circle and spoke about Ojibwe practices. He told us The Little Thunderbirds often perform when a person has died, as well as at pow wows, conferences, and other gatherings. His three teens confidently introduced songs and demonstrated dances including a fancy shawl dance, grass dance, and even one set to the Sponge-Bob Square Pants theme song!
John led WBUUC’s youth, children, and adults in a spiral dance and taught a song about welcoming one another. Throughout a beautiful sunny morning, he reflected on the roles that joy, gratitude, community, gathering, and prayer play in Native drum and dance.
After the circle, two of the youth talked about Ojibwe connections in their families. On the wall where the young people meet are two paper flowers. The teens’names are written in the center of each, and on the petals they have named faith traditions from their families’ history. As the group visits religious communities, it is always a gift to have individual youth learn more about faiths in their own families, or talk about their experiences, adding richness to the discussion and learning.
Consider: What is your faith story? When have you listened to someone else’s? Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul hosts dialogue and relationship-building opportunities throughout the year. Increase your own understanding and connections. Learn about upcoming events at http://interfaithaction.org/spin