South Charlotte

Series looks at God from many religious groups

Temple Beth El's 15th annual comparative religion series, "One God? Yours or Mine" is designed "to promote understanding and a sense of community," said Gene Meyers, co-chairman of the program.

The series looks at the concept of god as seen through the eyes of seven religion and education leaders in Mecklenburg County. At the six-week series, the speakers represented the following groups: Temple Beth El, Charlotte Torah Center, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Muslim American Society of Charlotte, Myers Park First United Methodist Church, Saint Peter's Catholic Church and the Department of Religious Studies, UNC Charlotte.

The series is lay driven, with members of Temple Beth El and the Charlotte community making up a committee of 16 people. For the past two years, Meyers and Sidney Sussman have co-chaired the committee.

Sussman has been the motivational force behind the series since its beginning 15 years ago. He started the series with Rabbi James Bennett who was the Rabbi at Temple Beth El at the time. Sussman's leadership, enthusiasm and lifelong interest in diversity have helped create a lasting program. The series has evolved into an organized and meaningful event, with past topics that included music and ethics of our faiths, sacred sites and timely topics, religious leaders, sex, women and religion with speakers that represented the diverse religious population in the Charlotte area. Past speakers have spoken about Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Orthodox Judaism, Lutheranism, Unitarianism, Catholicism, Baha'i, Coptic Christian, Jehovah Witness, Baptist, Moravian Church, Quakers and Sikhism.

The series committee consists of a volunteer representative from the Baptist, Unitarian and Islamic communities with the remaining members from the Jewish community.

The series is self-supporting with requests for contributions made at each session.

This year the series began Jan. 10 and continues until Feb. 14. Over-flowing crowds of people from multiple religions and faiths have packed the sanctuary at Beth El.

Marcia Rogers, a repeat follower of the series, said, "(It's a) great opportunity to learn about different religions in an atmosphere that is open to honest communication."

There is still time to attend the final session. On Feb. 14, Marcy Braverman Goldstein, Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies, UNC, speaks on the Hindu perspective.