Archive for May, 2014

Review of The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew – Three Women Search For Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner

Review by Jeannie Dortch. Photo by Janet Chase.

Most people feel safer when surrounded by like-minded individuals. Conversations that produce angst, confusion or fear are usually avoided, certainly if those conversations are about religion or politics!

In The Faith Club, three women of different faiths begin to acknowledge and, with genuine candor, shatter long-held assumptions about each other’s respective faiths. As New York City residents, all are acquainted with grief, alienation and prejudice, but are also full of courage, patience and love. The Faith ClubThey meet to write a children’s book, but begin an interfaith dialogue that changes their project and their perspectives about expectations of life and death. Their relationship evolves from superficial to penetrating and profound as thoughts and feelings begin, at times, to jeopardize their hard-won friendships.

This story is so appealing because it hikes trails the reader wants to explore but seldom has the necessary traveling companions or audacity. Conversations about heaven progress into the inevitable “who’s in and who’s out.” Discussions of death lead to questions about the reality of the afterlife and the misconceptions each holds about the others’ beliefs. All this talk is set against the tensions of different cultures, family loyalties, and religious doctrines.

In the end, they use their weekly meetings, outside readings, visits to places of worship, and meetings with varied religious leaders to better explain faith to their children and to themselves. This journey is possible with a growing and abiding trust in themselves, each other, God, and their mission.

Their questioning leads them to “truths that set them free,” but also to the hope that what they discovered is possible for any of us willing to ascend our own mountains of misunderstanding and uncertainty. If successful, reconciliation with those of different faiths might be possible for more than just these three determined women in New York City. It might be possible for us too.

Editor’s note: The Faith Club is available in First Word, FBC’s library.
Leave a Reply  below to recommend one of your favorite books from First Word Library.

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By Charles Tilley. Photos by Janet Chase and Allen Cumbia.

calloutThe Sanctuary of Richmond’s First Baptist Church serves as space for more than 200 events annually, including worship services, weddings, funerals, preschool services, community gatherings, and concerts. Approximately 50,000 people attend these events during an average year.

This amount of use has taken a toll on the Sanctuary’s interior finishes. Cracked plaster, peeling paint, and worn carpet and pew cushions are all signs of the need for a makeover.

This summer the 20-year-old paint job and three decades-old carpet will be two of the most visible improvements. Other maintenance items and related tasks will be addressed in this comprehensive improvements project. A team of FBC lay and staff, including architects and members of the facilities, worship and media teams, has identified the following items in the Sanctuary and Narthex for maintenance, renovation or upgrade:

  • plaster patching and painting of all walls and ceiling surfaces;
  • minor refinishing of wood surfaces – balcony rail, pews, pulpit furniture, etc.;
  • replacement of pew cushions and choir loft chair repair and fabric replacement;
    floor finish replacement – replacement of carpet in aisles only;
  • porcelain tile under the pews on the first floor and resilient tile under the balcony pews;
  • lighting – improvements particularly under the balcony and in the Narthex;
  • installation of a hearing aid loop that will provide wireless, assisted-listening capability;
  • slate roof maintenance (some of the interior finish issues have been due to roof leaks).

The general contractor will prepare the final cost estimates during early May. Work will begin on June 2, with a proposed completion date of August 22. During these summer months, FBC’s congregation will worship in the gymnasium. This transition will be overseen by the FBC worship and facilities teams.

The Sanctuary restoration is underwritten by the FBC Endowment Fund. This gift from the Endowment is its contribution to and endorsement of a Capital Campaign expected to begin in 2015. With the Campaign’s first step taken through this restoration, FBC members will then participate through time and financial contributions to the remainder of the projects.

Sanctuary Restoration Team members: Allen Cumbia, Jeff Dortch, Bill Hundley, Mark Larson, Bill Loving, Phil Mitchell, Richard Szucs, Charles Tilley, Lu Treadwell, Lynn Turner, and Bonnie Wilmoth.

CCharles Tilleyharles Tilley teaches 9th grade Youth Two Sunday school, serves as a deacon, and is on the Sanctuary Restoration Team. He and his wife, Gwen, have three daughters, Emma, Virginia and Mae.

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