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 course 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, a spiritual journey 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. This is the story of the three New Yorkers’ interfaith journey after 9/11.
There will be readings and opportunity for discussion each weekday (and only Monday & Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving), and ends the first week of Advent. There is no set time to be online.
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.
About the Instructor
Beth Galbreath is a United Methodist deacon whose specialty is “digital culture ministry,” which includes everything the Church needs to do to move from the print-literate culture of the last five centuries to the digital-communication culture of the 21st. She is one of the few (but proud!) graduates of the former Lumicon Institute’s certification program in digital culture ministry. “Digital culture ministry” is not just about technology; it includes re-emphasis on spiritual formation practices. To that end she holds a master’s from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in spiritual formation and evangelism. She loves to bring a multimedia, multi-intelligence approach to classes.
Digital culture ministry is also about ancient-future worship arts and education styles, especially an emphasis on story; to that end she is a passionate biblical storyteller and teacher. She is an ambassador of the Network of Biblical Storytellers International and coordinates the NBSI-related Chicago-area Prairie Wind Guild: Tellers of Sacred Stories. She’s taught biblical storytelling abroad in Cameroon, Bolivia, Haiti and the Philippines.
Beth serves the Northern Illinois Conference as co-chair of its Order of Deacons, and is a certified Natural Church Development coach. She also serves on the pastoral leadership team of Compassion UMC in Brookfield, IL, a new church plant. Her ministry includes consulting, teaching, and small group leadership. She is also an activist for solar energy, prison ministry, interfaith understanding, and eco-sustainability. Rev. Galbreath is the author of The Story and the Feast, a digital resource (three CDs of text and slides) of liturgy for Holy Communion, connected to the weekly stories and texts of the lectionary, and including notes for biblical storytellers.
Past Students Said…
“Children of Abraham was a fascinating survey of the connections among Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The discussion-focused format of the course allowed us to get to know one another well and hear diverse ideas about the course materials and topics. I would highly recommend this course as a daily lesson or meditation for pre-Advent or Lent.”
“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
“I really liked that the assignments were not overwhelming. The daily readings were reasonable, understandable and agreed with the assignments in a logical way.”
“It is one of the best designed courses I have ever taken. It was accessible to those with very little knowledge about Islam and Judaism and provided challenges to those at all knowledge/experience levels. The reflection questions were designed in a way that allowed each student to respond in ways that were personally meaningful. It is an excellent Lenten study. Also the instructor, Beth Galbreath, responded to student posts in a manner that was accepting and encouraging while at the same time she clarified misunderstandings students might have.”