Debbie Carley leads a small group ministry that is learning about other religions. Recently, she shared with Pastor Kristin why this is important to her.
While Debbie’s children were going through the confirmation classes at Bothell United Methodist Church, she was happy that a part of the curriculum was that they visited other religious services. Later, when she served at the UMCOR Depot in Salt Lake City, she immersed herself in learning about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This inspired her to bring other people together as a small group to learn about other faiths.
The group is interested in understanding how their neighbors view various social issues through the lens of their faith. Debbie knows that everyone has a belief about social issues, and she wanted to understand how religions form these beliefs, and why. What she is learning is that each religion points to an understanding that there is something larger than us, a concern for something greater.
In meeting with people in our community, the group has met with people who have deep faith. They have found people with a real commitment to their religion and to living out their lives according to their beliefs. Debbie has a lot of respect for how each person has been able to express their beliefs and share aspects of their religion that are different or new to the small group. It has been easy to do this with an open and receptive mind because they are simply trying to listen, and to learn. The group was encouraged to attend the Kenmore Bothell Interfaith Group’s Interfaith Dialogue event, held on March 26, 2019, in order to hear perspectives discussed together.
Debbie’s experience has shown her how people find comfort and meaning in religion, especially for people who are searching for something or want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. She has also noticed that each religion, including our own, has things that are difficult to believe, but that doesn’t bother her. She said that she doesn’t have to share their beliefs to understand where they are coming from. She hasn’t heard anyone say that they have all the answers, or that their religion is the correct one. If anyone had all the answers, she doubts that we’d keep gathering, and that is an important part of any religion.
All of this can help her look at Christianity, and how she lives out her life as a United Methodist, in considering how other religions emphasize certain aspects, such as family, health and serving others. It has helped her get a broader view of Christianity and of humanity.
Attending the Kenmore Bothell Interfaith Group’s Interfaith Dialogue event was enlightening. She was impressed by how the panelists modeled how we can be in discussion with people who are different from ourselves. As free as we are to practice our religion, she is hopeful that all others can be as free to practice theirs. The event showed us how we can be open minded and learn to listen to one another. This is how we build peace in our world.