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Study and Discussion Groups

Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum

Study Groups Spring 2016

All study groups are free and open to anyone. All welcome new members anytime.  Contact the facilitator below if you have interest in participating. For additional information about the Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum, please contact Deborah Faul, Study Group Coordinator, at or visit

New for Spring 2016:

Sacred Poetry
Facilitators: Deborah Cooper & Pamela Mittlefehldt,

Poetry is a way of giving voice to what is deepest in us. In this series, we will be reading and reflecting on poems from a variety of faith traditions. We will explore the nuances and gestures of our own spirituality through the language of poetry; through the poetry of others, through the practice of inner listening, and through the creation and sharing of our own poems. No experience in writing poetry is necessary. The Sacred Poetry Study Group will be offered at Peace Church, five Thursday evenings, 6:30 to 8:00, starting February 4, 2016.

How Do Our Neighbors Worship?
Facilitators: Andrea Gelb and Deborah Faul,

Join us as we explore the theology, ritual and practice of Worship with four smaller local faith communities: Jewish, Muslim, Greek Orthodox and Society of Friends. We will focus on one congregation each month with background readings, a visit to a worship service with a facilitator from the congregation, and discussion times. We will pay especial attention to community worship services, but will also think about different types of private, individual worship in these traditions. We will meet from February to May. Days and times will vary for each congregation visit. Please contact Deborah to sign up and receive the schedule of dates. The group is limited to 10 members.

Continuing groups:

The Lakeside Conversation Group
Facilitator: Martha Coltvet, 218-464-4271,

The Lakeside Interfaith Discussion Group this year is concentrating on the series Painting the Stars, which focuses on the subjects of Creation and Evolution from progressive Christian theological perspectives. It draws on art and poetry as well as analytical writings to explore the transforming experience of humanity and the Universe. We meet at Lakeside Presbyterian Church, 4430 McCulloch Street (we generally park on 45th), on Mondays from 10:00 am - 11:30 a.m.

Religion & Science in Dialogue
Facilitator: David Carlson,

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. We meet at Valentini's (1400 London Road), the third Wednesday of the month from 8:00-9:00 a.m.

Interfaith Memoir Writing Group
Facilitator: Linda Glaser,
We all have stories to tell-stories that are unique and important. In this interfaith memoir writing group we will unearth stories from our particular faith traditions. We'll explore aspects of "faith identity," by writing stories about loved ones, food, holidays, ritual objects, traditions, etc. There will be a relaxation exercise before each writing session to help us connect more deeply with our memories. Everyone is welcome. Through sharing our stories, we celebrate our differences, discover our deep commonalities, and create meaningful connections. Please bring a pen and notebook with you. The group is limited to 10 participants (please email Linda to register), and meets at Temple Israel (1602 E. 2nd Street), every two weeks, Wednesdays 6-7:30 pm in the Temple Israel library. Please contact Linda Glaser for dates of scheduled meetings.

Evangelical, Orthodox & Progressive Christians in Dialogue
Facilitator: Doug Bowen-Bailey, 722-7166

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. We meet the third Thursday of each month at 10 a.m. but are open to adjusting our time to facilitate other people included in our discussions.

Torah Study
Facilitator: Rabbi David Steinberg, 724-8857

This group is a part of 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 Parashat 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 study takes place at Temple Israel (1602 E. 2nd Street) in the Overman Communal Hall on Saturdays from 9:15-10am.

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) to discuss our reading (typically a novel a month). Our current meeting location is Perk Place in the Kenwood Shopping Center.  Click here for the current reading list.  New members are always welcome. Please contact David Bard for dates of scheduled meetings.

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.