For the past four years, the First Lutheran Church of San Francisco has celebrated “Pluralism Summer,” a time to hear from leaders and followers of religious traditions beyond the Christian Circle. This year’s theme is “How Does Your Religious /Spiritual /Philosophical Tradition Inform How You Think About Politics?”
Pluralism Summer was inspired by the “Pluralism Sunday” project of the Center for Progressive Christianity. Pastor Susan Strouse (author of The IntraFaith Conversation) and her congregation decided to extend the spirit of that one day through the whole Summer.
The first year, guests were invited to share a reading from their tradition, along with a prayer, meditation or chant. They had an opportunity to talk about themselves and their tradition, and there was time for questions from the congregation. In subsequent years, speakers have been asked to address an overall theme: the environment, gender, and now politics.
Presenters this Summer have included Swami Ramananda of the Integral Yoga Institute San Francisco; Rita Semel, longtime interfaith activist from Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco; Dr. Peter Erlenwein, a sociopsychologist and transpersonal therapist from Germany; Ed Driskill and Jim Lichti, of the First Mennonite Church of San Francisco; Dolores White, Baha’i Community of Martinez, and Archbishop Franzo W. King, co-founder of The Church of St. John Coltrane.
There’s still time to join in- on July 31, FULC will host Laura Magnani of the American Friends Service Committee, Director of AFSC’s Bay Area Healing Justice Program. Author of America’s First Penitentiary: A 200 Year Old Failure; co-author of AFSC publication, “Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System.”
August will feature Mark Carlson, Director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy–CA, and Hatice Yildiz, Pacifica Institute, who is a Doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union.
First United Lutheran Church is “a progressive church, rooted in the Reformation tradition, which says that the church, our worship, and our music must always be re-forming. We believe that it’s more important to ask the questions than to know all the answers.” The congregation meets Sundays at 5:00 pm at 2097 Turk Street (at Lyon) (St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church), in San Francisco.
What might a “Pluralism Sunday” or Friday, or Saturday look like in your own congregation? How might you discover ways to connect with those of other traditions in your own community? Find out more about Pluralism Sunday at Pastor Strouse’s blogs: