Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Caravan Explores Religious Roots Council Tours Houses of Worship to Promote Understanding of Faiths

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Caravan Explores Religious Roots Council Tours Houses of Worship to Promote Understanding of Faiths

Article excerpt

After citing the unique characteristics of their houses of

worship yesterday, a Jacksonville rabbi, a monsignor and a

Presbyterian pastor stressed it's not the buildings or their

accoutrements that matter.

It's the people and their actions.

To be sure, Jews, Catholics and Presbyterians each have customs

they deem sacred, the spiritual leaders told about 30 people who

joined an "interfaith caravan" hosted by The National Conference

for Community and Justice.

The group visited a synagogue, a Catholic church and a

Presbyterian church to learn about some of those customs.

At Congregation Ahavath Chesed, where the caravan began, Rabbi

Michael Matuson displayed his synagogue's 750-year-old Torah

scrolls and told how reading and understanding the Torah's

commandments and other writings are at the core of Judaism.

Monsignor John Lenihan noted the significance of the statues,

the giant mosaic and other displays inside San Jose Catholic

Church, as well as the new hall built to accommodate thousands

of parishioners.

And the Rev. Tom Are Jr. of Riverside Presbyterian Church spoke

of Presbyterians' strict adherence to church government. In

Presbyterian churches, he said, "We can't even order out for

pizza without a committee."

But the buildings and even the weekly services in them aren't

as important as how the congregants respond, they said.

"So many of us are comfortable going to a synagogue or a church

or a Muslim [mosque] on Saturday or Sunday or whenever, but if

we go no further than that, our faith is not really real,"

Lenihan said.

"Coming to a church or synagogue should be a time of thinking

about what you're going to do with that faith when you walk out

the door into the marketplace or wherever," he said. …

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