Study and Discussion Groups

Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum

Study Groups | Spring 2013

Contact one of the facilitators below if you have interest in participating. All study groups are free, open to the public, and welcoming of new members. For additional information about the Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum, please contact Jim Perlman, Study Group Coordinator at holycow@holycowpress.orgor visit

Sacred Poetry Study Group
Facilitators Ann Neidringhaus and Duluth Poet Laureate Deborah Cooper
Mondays January 14, 21, 28, 7-9pm, McCabe Renewal Center, 2125 Abbotsford Avenue

In this series of three Monday evening meetings, study group participants will read and reflect upon poems from a variety of faith traditions. There will be an opportunity to create and share poems. No experience in writing poetry is necessary. For registration, please contact Sister Jean Maher at McCabe Renewal Center, or 218-724-5266.

Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and The Promise of America. 
Facilitator: Dr. Elyse Carter Vosen,, 723-6446
Thursday, January 31 and Thursday February 28, 5-6:30pm, St. Scholastica Library 

This group addresses interfaith leader Eboo Patel's 2012 book. Patel draws attention to the way in which suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims have become frighteningly mainstream, and notes this prejudice is not just a problem for Muslims but a challenge to the idea of America. Patel argues that Americans from George Washington to Martin Luther King Jr. have been "interfaith leaders," and asks us to share in his vision of a better America-a robustly pluralistic country in which difference enriches rather than threatens our religious traditions, offering a primer in the art and science of interfaith work. Composed of community members as well as St. Scholastica faculty, staff and students, the group welcomes any interested persons to join us for these last two sessions. 

Torah Study
Facilitator: Rabbi David Steinberg, 724-8857
Saturdays 9:15-10am, Temple Israel (Communal Hall), 1602 East 2nd Street

This group joins the regularly scheduled Hebrew Bible study held every Shabbat morning at Temple Israel. Rabbi David leads an interactive reading and in-depth discussion of the text of the Parshat Hashavua ("weekly [Torah] portion") and encourages participants to read their own stories, experiences, wisdom, questions and struggles into these texts. We read the text in English but frequently consult the original Hebrew language of the text, although knowledge of Hebrew is not required.

The Lakeside Conversation Group
Facilitator: Martha Coltvet,
Mondays 10-11:30am, Lakeside Presbyterian Church, 4500 McCulloch Street

The Lakeside Conversation Group continues its discussions of Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battle over Authentication. Some of the lecture titles, based on the DVD series, are: "The Diversity of Early Christianity," "Christians Who Would Be Jews" "Christians Who Refuse to Be Jews," and the "Orthodox Corruption of Scripture." Each lecture is 30 minutes in length, leaving ample discussion time.

Daughters of Abraham
Facilitator: Pastor Kathleen Abel, 218-525-5067,

This group is composed of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish women and is always open to new members. A few books have recently been published on interfaith conversations, including Getting to the Heart of Interfaith by Pastor Don Mackensie, Rabbi Ted Falcon, and Sheikh Jamal Rahman. We are beginning to create an interfaith blog: Our intention is to connect with a global audience, selecting highlights from our group conversations to stimulate replies from a diverse world community.  Contact the facilitator for the next meeting time and place.   

Religion & Science in Dialogue
Facilitator: David Carlson,
Third Wednesday of the month, 8-9am, Chester Creek Cafe

Relating these two realms of meaning is the focus of this discussion group, led by David Carlson, pastor of Gloria Dei. To borrow some terms from Ian Barbour, a pioneer in this interdisciplinary field, are science and religion enemies, strangers, or partners? How might a person be faithful and at the same time take scientific methods, theories, and findings seriously? How might questions raised by the scientific community impact faith? The purpose of this discussion is to honor the value and integrity of both religion and science and seek a constructive dialogue to which all are welcome. 

Evangelical, Orthodox & Progressive Christians in Dialogue
Facilitator: Doug Bowen-Bailey, 722-7166
Third Thursday of the month, 1pm, varied locations

This group includes members from congregations from a variety of denominations and traditions. Theological topics and social issues are discussed by the group on an agreed-upon basis (and nothing is off-limits.) Members of the group rotate the responsibility of providing an opening meditation and then the free-ranging discussion begins. The monthly meetings are hosted at members' congregations and scheduled according to member availability.  Please contact the facilitator for more information; new members are always welcome.

Fiction Group
Facilitator: David Bard,

"Through the imagination we are able to develop our ability to see the full humanness of people" - Martha
Nussbaum.  Our energetic and diverse group seeks to see more deeply into the humanness of others, especially
the religious humanness of others, by engaging works of fiction written by and about people from a variety of
cultural and religious traditions. We meet monthly over coffee (tea if you prefer) at Amazing Grace to
discuss our reading (typically a novel a month). New members are always welcome.  Join us for our next meeting, Monday, February 11th, 10:30 am where we will discuss Annie Dillard's novel, The Maytrees.

The Jewish Annotated New Testament
Facilitators: Rev. Bruce Johnson & Rabbi David Steinberg  or 218-724-0308 &  or 218-724-8857
Biweekly Wednesdays 12:15-1:30pm, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth, 835 W. College St.

The purpose of this group, co-facilitated by Rev. Bruce Johnson of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Rabbi David Steinberg of Temple Israel, is to study together excerpts from The Jewish Annotated New Testament. The JANT, which was released in 2011 and uses the text of the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament, includes extensive footnotes and essays by contemporary Jewish scholars which seek to illuminate the Jewish background of the texts as well as Jewish responses to them. The group includes guest clergy facilitators for some passages.  Drop-ins are welcome; bring a lunch. The next meeting date is 1/23/13.

Faith in Action
Facilitator: Judy Gordon 724-4145

This group includes Muslims, Jews, and Christians who meet and plan a yearly Interfaith Peace Feast open to the public. The dinner raises money for a community project determined by the participants. We meet monthly in each other's homes. We study about dietary laws in order to prepare meals that follow dietary restrictions but there will not be much reading. Discussions focus on developing the project and getting to know each other. The goal is to encourage interfaith dialogue by working together on a common project and to present to the community a positive image of people from all three religions. Please contact Judy Gordon for monthly meeting schedule.

The Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum promotes understanding, respect, and peace among the diverse religious communities of our region through sustained cross-cultural discussion, shared study, and collaborative projects and events. The Interreligious Forum is made possible by the generous support of the Oreck-Alpern family, the Overman Trust, and other donations to the College of St. Scholastica.