; charset=UTF-8" /> ECUMENICAL AND INTERFAITH NEWS – May : Connecting Voices
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(Submitted by the joint Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee of the Southern California Nevada Conference UCC, and the Pacific Southwest Region, DOC)

EIRCA United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ Night at the Hollywood Bowl: Sunday, August 25.
Mindful of our committee’s mandate to bring Disciples and UCC’ers into contact as often as possible, and also of the virtue of sometimes getting together just to enjoy, we are planning this balmy August evening at one of Southern California’s greatest and most enjoyable gathering places.  The program is a “Goat Rodeo,” featuring world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with Chris Thile on mandolin, Edgar Meyer on bass, and Stuart Duncan on fiddle.  Your musical horizons will be expanded from high-spirited Celtic and bluegrass stylings to jazzy improvisations and beyond.  Please come and bring friends from your congregation or that you know from other church contexts.  We’ll probably purchase tickets in the $20 range.  The sooner we know how large the group is, the sooner we can purchase a bloc of tickets which enable us all to sit together.  We’ll meet an hour or so before the show begins—bring supper for yourself and something to share with others.   Call in your reservations (or questions) to Jeff at 626-794-1839 or send to him at hefffer@earthlink.net.  Information on getting to the bowl, parking, etc., is easily available online.  Join us for a very fun and exhilarating evening!

Pentecostals Among Us!
The Southern California Nevada Conference, UCC, will welcome three adherents of the Pentecostal form of Christianity as ecumenical guests at its annual gathering in Carson on May 11.  They belong to large vital African-American congregations in Gardena and San Diego, including the 20,000 member City of Refuge.  The Pentecostal emphasis on the personal, actual experience of the Holy Spirit has been perhaps the most prominent single factor in the Christian history of the last hundred years.  Estimates are that there are now some 400 million Pentecostals in the world—far outnumbering other branches of Protestantism.

Los Angeles can claim to be one of the birthplaces of the modern Pentecostal movement.  Unfortunately established mainline liberal churches such as the UCC and Disciples, even in diverse California, have had very little contact with Pentecostalism and its unique spirit.  Hopefully this can change.  Recently an EIRC member, Rev. Bonnie Tarwater, attended worship at the City of Refuge.  She subsequently wrote a letter to its nationally known senior pastor, Bishop Noel Jones.  An excerpt from the letter follows:

“Dear Bishop Jones—Thank you!  Thank you for an inspired and beautiful worship service, when my husband and I came to worship with you on April 7.  It felt to me that you were preaching specifically to me and I experienced transformation and gifts of the spirit.  The music lifted and transported us, and the loving welcome and kindness that we received from many in the church touched us deeply….I am writing to you as a representative of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee of the UCC and the DOC in Southern California.  We believe it is past time that we get to know one another who belong to different kinds of Christian communities.   We need to join forces and become a “Community of  Communities” working together for peace and justice.  Jesus our teacher has commanded us to make all people welcome at God’s table.  We all agree that we are in crisis as a human family with epidemics of violence, poverty, injustice, and ecological devastation.  As Christian ministers, I hope we can show leadership together by becoming friends in ecumenical and multi-faith work.  When we join forces in a more intentional and personal way, I know that the wind of the Holy Spirit will catapult us all into the Kingdom, just as it did at Pentecost2,000 years ago with the fiery force of miraculous healing love.

“The original meaning of the word ‘religion’, as you know, means to bind together.  As a Caucasian, Protestant, progressive, female, mystic, and parish minister, I am reaching out to you, Bishop Noel Jones, both personally and professionally.  I am reaching out with the hope that we can bind ourselves together in Christ for work in our community.  We have much to learn from you and the City of Refuge, and I hope we also have something of value for you to learn as well.   I offer you my time and friendship in order to develop more of a collegial relationship with our committee, our congregations, and our denominations…In Christ, Bonnie Tarwater.”

Bonnie appended these words of Albert Schweitzer: “This is how the conservative and liberal forms of religion will meet, when desire and hope for the kingdom of God and fellowship with the spirit of Jesus again govern them as elementary and mighty force, and bring their world-views and their religion so close that the differences in fundamental presuppositions, though still existing, sink as the boulders of the river bed are covered by the rising flood and at last are barely visible, gleaming through the depth of waters.”

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, October 26, 9:00 a.m. through 12:30 p.m.—“Creating a Community of Communities: Muslims and Christians”
This event, at the Interfaith Center at Chapman University in Orange, is designed to be a morning for bringing our DOC and UCC people into personal contact and dialogue with members of the Islamic faith in our midst.  It will include stimulating keynotes to get us going, much informal conversation, and good food.  There is hardly a strong religious imperative today than to overcome the steretypes Christians and Muslims have about one another.

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