Those living in the Monroeville area have an opportunity to find out more about other religions and connect with their community.
Where the open houses are
Here is a list of ministerium-sponsored open houses.
• Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, 233 Seaman Lane, Monroeville, from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday
• North American Martyrs Catholic Church, 2526 Haymaker Road, Monroeville, at 11 a.m. Sept. 22
• East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church, 4326 Sardis Road, Murrysville, at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 6
• Temple David, 4415 Northern Pike, at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 and 10 a.m. Nov. 9 for Torah service
• Cross Roads Presbyterian Church, 2310 Haymaker Road, Monroeville, at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 13
• Monroeville United Methodist Church, 219 Center Road, Monroeville, at 11 a.m. Nov. 17.
• Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 4503 Old William Penn Highway, Monroeville, at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Nov. 3.
• St. Bernadette Catholic Church, 245 Azalea Drive, Monroeville, at 10 a.m. and noon Nov. 10
• Hindu Temple, 615 Illini Drive, Monroeville, at noon Dec. 7 for a tour.
Some members of the Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium, representing the Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Lutheran and Methodist faiths are holding a series of open house worship services for the public over the next four months.
"The idea is not to create an interfaith worship service but to give people a no-pressure, fly-on-the-wall experience that gives them an idea of what the diverse faiths are all about," said Rabbi Barbara Symons of Temple David in Monroeville, the ministerium president.
The goal of the program is to offer a welcoming environment for people curious about other religions or for those who have a desire to find their way back into their own fold or convert to another religion. They can sit through a worship service, pick up literature and stay for a social hour to ask questions.
The ministerium's mission is to promote fellowship among the religious leaders of the Monroeville area, to promote respect, understanding and cooperation among people of all faiths and to promote goodwill, compassion and justice in the Monroeville area.
"Hopefully, people will see this as a barrier-down experience, one that allows them to learn from one another," Rabbi Symons said.
Originally, the ministerium was solely Christian, but members asked Rabbi Jason Edelstein, founding rabbi at Temple David, to join in the mid-1960s, making it an interfaith organization. Rabbi Symons became a member of the ministerium when she first became a rabbi at the temple seven years ago.
"I believe very strongly in the ministerium and interfaith relations," she said. "My goal is that every religious leader and parishioner in the area ask themselves why they're not part of it."
For many years, religious leaders have met at noon on the first Wednesday of each month on a rotating basis at various houses of worship. At the meeting, members discusses regular business issues as well as special projects, such as the all-faith Thanksgiving service -- a celebration of song and fellowship followed by refreshments that's slated for the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
"At the meeting, we also discuss the needs of people in the area and are planning on possibly initiating a monthly dinner for those in need of food," said the Rev. Renee Waun, who has served the East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church since 1999 and is ministerium secretary.
The group is also planning a blood drive.
"So many people in the world are spilling blood over religion, but our goal is to give blood instead of helping to spill it," Rev. Waun said.
The ministerium also maintains a treasury of funds supported by the diverse congregations that is used to help people in the Monroeville area with emergency housing, food and transportation.
Rev. Waun said she always had an ecumenical interest and looked around for colleagues with the same interests when she first began serving her congregation in 1999.
"More important is not what you believe but what the different faiths can do together," she said. "All of us are interested in community, the health of the Earth, justice, having compassion, educating people and helping those in need. We're a kind of microcosm of the world. By showing that we can get along with one another, we hope to show that the peoples of the world can get along."
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: email@example.com.