Breaking Down the Boundaries of Bias
Updated: Mar 3
"Love one another with mutual affection: outdo one another in showing honor." - Romans 12:10
An intergenerational group from Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church attended the Interfaith Tour sponsored and led by the National Conference for Community and Justice. The event for ORPC was put together by our Director of Faith Formation, Taylor Austin and the Faith Formation Ministry Team. The NCCJ is a human relations organization working to build communities free of bigotry, racism, and bias by encouraging understanding and respect among all cultures, races, and religions.
The Interfaith Tour took us to Temple Emmanuel, Providence Baptist Church, and The Islamic Center of Greensboro to introduce us to three different religions and cultures. It gave the participants a chance to have the opportunity to get to know more of our neighbors who practice a variety of different faith traditions, and by doing so, creating a more inclusive community.
The visit to Temple Emmanuel introduced the tour to Rabbi Fred Guttman. He spoke to the tour about the mission of Temple Emmanuel and its commitment to inclusivity. Rabbi Guttman expressed to our group that as people of the Jewish Faith have been oppressed, especially in World War II, it was important for them to aid other people, cultures, and religions that are being oppressed as well. He spoke of how several Jews went to aid voter registration efforts in the deep South at the height of the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.
At Providence Baptist Church the tour met Reverend Darryl Aaron. He told us how the church was the oldest black church in North Carolina, starting a place to worship shortly after the end of the Civil War. He spoke of how the focus of his church is on education, to develop in personal growth as well as spiritual growth. They emphasize this with the young people in their community and the community around them. He told of how they try to inspire their congregation to "Love without limits." and "Empower people to live their best lives.".
The last stop in the tour was at the Islamic Center of Greensboro. A mosque that has been in Greensboro for 26 years. We had a chance to experience their dedication to their faith by observing them perform their afternoon prayers. The tour made acquaintance with Iman Yasser Ahmed and several members of the Mosque. They gave us facts about their faith and the commonalities that Christians, Jews and Muslims have. In many ways more alike than different.
The overall theme of the tour was self realization. That you need to educate yourself and engage with others that may not be quite like you, and by doing so you learn. This is awkward and uncomfortable and many avoid it. By learning and engaging, you realize the things you have in common. The differences that you see, at first, will melt into the background. As Christians, Jesus asks us sometimes to go where it is uncomfortable and embrace it. Being in the uncomfortable usually brings enlightenment, and hopefully you are the better for it.
Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church thanks the National Conference for Community and Justice and the Interfaith Tour for the opportunity to let us learn, engage, grow and hopefully break down a few boundaries.