Church hosts four-session program

Rev. Thomas Bonacci

For centuries Christians have observed the period before Easter
with special events. This 40-day season was a time of penitence,
fasting, almsgiving, prayer and study. The custom lies at the root
of congregational Lenten observances today, and it is exemplified
by the Morgan Hill United Methodist Church’s invitation to locals
to join in a free Lenten Study.
For centuries Christians have observed the period before Easter with special events. This 40-day season was a time of penitence, fasting, almsgiving, prayer and study. The custom lies at the root of congregational Lenten observances today, and it is exemplified by the Morgan Hill United Methodist Church’s invitation to locals to join in a free Lenten Study.

For four Tuesdays, beginning on March 15, there will be a series of programs on the theme “Embracing an Adult Faith.” Each evening will begin with a soup supper in the Fellowship Hall at 6:30 p.m., with a program facilitated by the Rev. Patrick Davis at 7. The evenings are scheduled to end by 8:30, and free childcare will be available.

The four-session study is based on a book of the same title by Marcus Borg.

Each session will begin with a video featuring Borg introducing the evening’s topic. Among the themes covered are the following:

– March 15: God: The meaning of the word, what God is like, speaking of God, experiencing the sacred and finding our God language

– March 22: Jesus: Why Jesus matters, knowing Jesus, finding the courage to follow and how a Jewish mystic became a Christian lord

– March 29: Salvation: Getting rid of baggage, the path of transformation and images and metaphors of grace

– April 5: Practice: The way to Jesus, prayer, worship and gratitude.

On April 12, the book discussion will be preempted by a special event, the second installment of a four-session series based on “The Interfaith Dialogues of Jesus”. The evening’s program will feature Rev. Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P., executive director of the Interfaith Peace Project.

Father Bonacci, a Roman Catholic priest, founded the organization when he came to the conclusion that “people are using their particular faith position as justification for criticizing, condemning and even violently opposing people with whom they disagree.”

He underlines his point by quoting Stephen Weinberg: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But, for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

The mission of the Interfaith Peace Project is to provide “cross-religious interpersonal encounters that will bring about understanding and acceptance of differing faiths.” The group feels that “there can be no world peace without religious peace, and religious peace will only be possible when religious people learn to appreciate views from other traditions than their own. The walls of distrust and hatred that members of religious traditions erect against each other are founded on ignorance.”

Pastor Davis invited Father Thomas to come to Morgan Hill to help improve cooperation, cultural appreciation and sensitivity in advance of May 5, hoping to avoid the unpleasantness experienced at last year’s Cinco de Mayo event.

The evening will begin at 7:30 with a presentation by Father Thomas. Then participants will discuss their own religious traditions, and it is hoped a variety of groups will be represented. Free refreshments and childcare will be provided, and the evening should end by 9. The final two interfaith discussions will be held May 24 and June 14.

The interfaith Peace Project does not attempt to create a common faith. Its goal is to “raise interfaith consciousness, to learn about distinctive teachings without feeling the need to oppose them as being unworthy.” The hope is that participants can learn from each other and become able to say, “I don’t agree with your religious convictions, but I acknowledge that your beliefs are as important to you as mine are to me.”

Pastor Davis invites anyone to join in these conversations. For more information, call (408) 779-4044 or visit www.mhumc.com.

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