A new series at Myers Park United Methodist Church will explore how Christians can relate to people of other faiths and engage in healthy conversation without compromising their beliefs.
City of Faiths, a three-part program, will begin Sept. 16 with a talk called “The Bible and Other Religions” from the Rev. James Howell, senior pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church. He will talk about how interacting with people from other faiths can make faith traditions more meaningful.
“God wants us to learn all we can about the life of faith,” Howell wrote in an email. “Those who believe differently enrich us and test our assumptions, which we discover to be thinner than we’d thought.
“Since through history, differences in religion have bred hostility and even violence, to befriend others is a sign of great hope.”
The series will continue on Sept. 30 with “Christianity and Judaism,” a talk from Rabbi Murray Ezring of Temple Israel in Charlotte, and on Oct. 21 with Imam John Ederer of the Muslim Society of Charlotte, who will discuss “Christianity and Islam.”
City of Faiths is part of an ongoing focus at MPUMC on community building. In recent years, the church has hosted series on forgiveness and hospitality.
The Rev. George Ragsdale, Myers Park’s minister of discipleship, said a Bible verse from the book of Jeremiah that calls for people exiled in Babylon to seek the welfare of the city they are in is applicable to the series.
“What does it look like for us as Christians to seek the welfare of those around us?” he said.
Ragsdale said building friendships with people of different faiths is becoming more common in Charlotte. He cites a recent conversation with a church member who told him about multiple faith traditions represented in her neighborhood.
“It’s no longer something we talk about in an abstract way,” Ragsdale said. “There are folks who are living out those relationships all the time.”
Howell wrote that he hopes City of Faiths will show people what is special about Christianity, why that matters and “even share what we cherish as we are even better listeners to others.”
The series will be followed up with several small groups, where people can talk more about the issues and questions raised in City of Faiths.
The series and small groups are free and open to the community. All talks begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at Jubilee Hall at Myers Park United Methodist Church, 1501 Queens Road.
Child care for ages 5 and younger is available for the three evening programs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.
Myers Park United Methodist meets Sundays at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 a.m. For more information about the church, visit www.mpumc.org.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at email@example.com.
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