The Limits and Possibilities of Sharing Christian Worship in an Interreligious Educational Setting
Keywords:interreligious eduction, interreligious worship, hospitality
This paper discusses a worship service I designed and led in November of 2014 at Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS). As a member of the faculty, a practicing Christian and a religious educator and interfaith organizer, I am invited to lead a service each year in the Chapel at ANTS. In particular, as the ANTS’ co-director of the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE), a joint program between ANTS and Hebrew College, I was charged with making the service an “interfaith” gathering, open and inviting for Unitarian Universalist, Muslim, and Jewish guests, while still providing an authentic expression of Christian worship. This article offers a first-person narrative and thick description of the service, the planning process, the broader context of interreligious education at our schools, and reflections on both the possibilities and limits of sharing particular religious rituals across diverse religious traditions for educational purposes. Drawing on the work of interreligious educators I identify a set of goals for interreligious education and explore the potential for religious ritual to both contribute to and complicate these goals. I describe the worship service as a ritual event in the life of a Christian seminary as well as its meaning and role in the process of interreligious coformation that is part of CIRCLE’s work.
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