IFD282 – Children of Abraham
Course Dates: October 9 – November 2, 2017
Christians, Jews, Muslims – all members of faiths that claim descent from Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, in whose family God promised “all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Five thousand years later their spiritual descendants are often trapped in mutual suspicion, misunderstanding and conflict. What can we do, as followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to encourage safety and peace in our own locations?
This class is a beginning, an opportunity to explore the mutual roots in story of the three “Abrahamic religions.” It will focus on what we have in common, how each faith’s wisdom can enrich our own, and how to begin having interfaith conversations. This 5-week pre-Advent spiritual journey into friendship finishes before Thanksgiving (instead of taking up Advent time). And is very relevant to today’s world.
Participants must obtain the book “The Faith Club” by Ranya Idilby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner, which is not included in the course fee. There will be daily readings and opportunity for discussion several times a week but not on Saturdays and Sundays, and there is no set time to be online. This is the story of the three New Yorkers’ interfaith journey after 9/11.
This course is eligible for 2.0 CEU.
This course has been approved by Discipleship Ministries (formerly the General Board of Discipleship) as an advanced course with 10 contact hours in Lay Servant Ministries.
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Past participants in this course have said…
“This course has broadened my understanding of Judaism but more so of Islam. Our daily readings and questions, along with “The Faith Club” has caused me to pause and has dispelled some preconceptions as well as ideas which have been presented in our culture about violence as a tenet of Islam. I understand that just as Christianity has extremists, so does Islam. The daily readings coupled with “The Faith Club” were very enlightening and the questions causes “soul searching”. I have already recommended this course to others and will continue to do so. Thank you!” – Carolyn Kidd
“I am going to miss this class. The spiritual discipline of the class was re-newing and re-invigorating. … I used it as a mirror to understand other areas of misunderstanding and conflict in my life. Clearly listening and honest conversations are needed.” – Shannon Sixbey
“Hatred is exactly why I signed up for “Children of Abraham” when Beth announced the course. My mother’s parents spoke heavily accented English and preferred to speak German at home in Cincinnati. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, as Germany was allied with Japan, my grandparents’ neighbors kicked down the back door, seized their radio, and smashed it in the driveway. My mother was chased down the block by schoolmates and beaten for being ‘one of them.’ My mother impressed on me and my siblings how isolated she and her family felt, as once-trusted neighbors gave in to fear and hysteria. I took the “Children of Abraham” class to be reminded that we are all precious children of God, no matter our language, no matter our nationality, no matter our religion. And we, as the storytellers, have the honor of learning their stories, telling ours, and sharing God’s marvelous world with one another. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” – Janet Steele
Rev. Beth Galbreath is a United Methodist deacon whose interest in interfaith dialogue and understanding has grown over a lifetime. Her strong Christian and United Methodist identity has been stretched and blessed by some religious diversity within her own family!
She has not only studied Islam, Judaism and other world faiths academically, but she has traveled in Israel/Palestine, Jordan and Turkey in the company of renowned interdisciplinary scholar and teacher Dr. James Fleming (whose 30-year ministry of “peace through tourism” in Jerusalem continues in Georgia), along with Muslim and Jewish guides.
Rev. Galbreath has served in a church which housed a Shia Muslim congregation, and as coordinator of Chicago’s Prairie Wind Guild: Tellers of Sacred Stories she led efforts to connect the two congregations through a wonderful evening of exchanging some of our sacred stories (with potluck). As vice president of the Nework of Biblical Storytellers International, she shares its belief that telling and listening to one another’s stories is a major route to understanding and peace. This class is rooted in some of the stories that all three faiths share, and shares some that are unique, as we encounter Islam and Judaism as siblings of Christianity.
Beth serves on the pastoral leadership team of Compassion UMC, a new church plant in Brookfield, IL, and Crossroads of Life Prison Faith Community, an effort to plant a new congregation within the walls of a women’s prison. If successful, the prison community will certainly be an ongoing opportunity for interfaith dialogue.
Image artist: Filippino Lippi; Public domain in source country.