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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Giving thanks with other faiths

Two ELCA congregations celebrate gratitude with interfaith neighbors

Come late November, gathering for worship or serving a community meal are fairly typical ways for congregations to celebrate the secular Thanksgiving holiday. But two congregations have found interfaith relationships a rich way to celebrate their gratitude.

Some 200 people will fill the fellowship room of Lakeview Lutheran Church, Madison, Wis., the Sunday afternoon before the holiday for the Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration, which is in its sixth year. Lakeview hosts the Greater Madison Interreligious Association gathering partly because it has a huge room containing no Christian symbolism, said Dean Kirst, pastor (contact Krist via email).

Each year there is a keynote speaker (in recent years a Muslim, a Native American and a Quaker), followed by short presentations from various religious and cultural traditions on how they give thanks, including Tibetan Buddhist, Muslim, Baha'i, Native American, Wiccan, Christian, Unitarian, Jewish and Hindu. A dance for peace led by the Sufi concludes the presentations. A potluck of finger food, appetizers and desserts reflective of each tradition follows.

photodisc"This is more true to Thanksgiving than any kind of present-day [service] I've experienced," Kirst said. "There are a wide variety of religious backgrounds sharing — and sharing food. It's more authentic than what we can do with a Thanksgiving service."


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