Last week I had the privilege of accompanying four of my church’s Confirmands on the Northern IL Conference Bishop’s Interfaith Youth Bus Tour. We were part of a group of more than 70 teenagers from across the Conference who visited a Hindu temple (which I learned is called a Mandir), a Muslim mosque and a Jewish synagogue. It was a long day to be sure, but it was fun and informative and our young people were engaged throughout.
You can read the full NIC article about the Tour, but here’s a money quote:
Organizers say one of the goals of this interfaith bus trip was to nurture and develop our future young leaders who are living in a more diverse and pluralistic society.
Reflecting on what they enjoyed about their experience our Confirmands said:
I like how the buildings reflected their beliefs: the carvings in the welcoming area were images of welcoming. The carvings in the worship area were images of their deities.
I enjoyed taking my shoes off [required of all who entered the worship space both in the Mandir and in the mosque], it made me feel at home and comfortable.
I didn’t know there were so many names for God. I thought it was just, you know, ‘God’. Or maybe ‘Jehovah’ or something.
Asked if anything made them uncomfortable, they said:
There were some weird things [happening during the Hindu prayer service] that I didn’t understand…that made me feel uncomfortable.
I was disappointed that I got skipped during the ‘flame thing’ at the temple.
And that, my friends, is what we trained professionals like to call a teachable moment!
“So, do you think people ever don’t understand what’s happening in our worship services at WUMC? What might make someone uncomfortable or disappointed during our worship?” I asked.
Maybe during Communion!
Yeah, like if someone was skipped during Communion or didn’t know what to do!
Or if they were skipped when we pass stuff in the pews.
It’s always exciting and a joy when young people think critically and earnestly about their faith and their experience of their faith! I’m proud of them all!