Shenendehowa Interfaith Program

What happens when you pile a bunch of female Christians, Jews, Hindus, Native Americans, and Muslims in one place? In the case of “Celebrating the Sabbath or Holy Day” at the Shenendehowa United Methodist Church, something wonderful.

On Monday October 29, 2007 I attended an interfaith program for adult and teen women hosted by the United Methodist Women of Shenendehowa United Methodist Church. Easily over 60 women attended to hear women of different faiths talk about celebrating their Holy Day. The cost of admission, a non-perishable food item for the food bank and a vegetarian dish to share.

At 6 PM Janet Foster, the moderator for the evening, welcomed us and led us in giving thanks. Then we ate! There was A LOT of food there. Far too much for me to try everything. I sat with two women who attend the Hindu Temple of the Capital District, and two other women. So, what does a group like that talk about? The usual: traffic, the real estate market, cooking, and our families. After the meal, the program began.

A little bit of background. In 1994 the United Methodist Women held their first interfaith program for women. The topic that year was, “A Women’s Journey of Faith, From Cradle to Altar.” It’s been held nearly ever year since with topics such as “Death: The End or the Beginning” and “Prayer”. This year’s topic was “Celebrating the Sabbath or Holy Day”. The speakers were Dr. Mussarat Chaundhry of the Islamic Center of the Capital District, Jhansi Putta of the Hindu Temple of the Capital District, Rabbi Linda Motzkin of Temple Sinai, Dawn Standing Woman Marszak who practices Native American Spirituality, and Rev. Megan Stowe of Shenendehowa United Methodist Church. All of this with Janet Foster of Shenendehowa United Methodist Church moderating.

Personally I found the presentation by Dr. Chaundhry to be the most informative, probably because the Islamic faith is the one I know the least about. I just wish that they did these more frequently or had a longer time slot because I had questions but there was no time for questions from the crowd. Most likely because we would be there all night! That being said, all of the women were very entertaining and the evening flew by. The next thing I knew it was time to leave. I found it hard to say good-bye to all these friendly women I just met. It was such a wonderful evening. As Janet said, “When I look around this room, I can see that world peace is possible.”