For the past few months, the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church has delved into other religions, inviting the public in for visits with representatives from other faiths; and samples of their food, on Sundays after the regular church service.
Last month, members of the Christian community were asked to bring their beliefs to the table; their similarities and their differences as members of the NCPD, Calvary Chapel and St. Rita’s Catholic Church gathered in the community room.
Seth Baumhover represented the Calvary Chapel and when asked what its origin was, Seth said the church is based on the Bible. He explained that it is the prophetic word of God and that more than 300 prophecies have been perfectly fulfilled. Questions came up: Could you have Christianity without the Bible? Do Christians disagree with each other? That question brought a few laughs.
Father Bill Bresnin brought up the discussion of heaven and what purgatory was, explaining that it was a place to be cleansed. He said the concept of limbo has never actually been accepted as doctrine. A “suburb of hell” was mentioned.
The discussion was often good-naturedly humorous as the discussion remained conversation rather than argument. NCPC pastor Hansen Wendlandt quipped that the three denominations seemed to agree easier than many discussions that take place among church members.
When Father Bill was asked about saints, Ressa Smith said she sees saints all over the place, that they do exist. She also believes angels walk the earth. Other discussions involved suicide, whether someone who kills himself will go to hell and Seth said that it would depend on the persons’ relationship with Jesus. “God takes care of those people. He is just and fair and loving.”
It was mentioned that the three denominations are actually a lot closer than people think. For dessert, Pastor Wendlandt handed out Dove chocolate and Swedish Fish gummies, symbolizing the bird and fish of the Christian religion. The give and take of the discussion was lively and filled with ideas and facts that surprised some of those who attended.
A few weeks ago was the final Religious Literacy discussion at the NCPC. After worship and fellowship a group of Mormons explained their faith system, clarified some of the cultural myths, and shared a typical LDS lunch with participants.
The current worship series is All in the Family, beginning with the great-grandparents, Abram and Sarai, who become Abraham and Sarah when they received the first letter and breath of God’s own name.
Abraham is considered the ancestor of three major faith systems: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, through his children Isaac and Ishmael. Through four generations, over seven weeks, attendees will become far more familiar with some classic Bible stories, deep holy values, and subtle messages for how to navigate our own family and community drama, says Wendlandt. “A special treat for this series is that we will use a particular style of music for each week. One Sunday will be all church classics. Another week, African-American spirituals. One week Bluegrass, then praise songs, etc. I promise, you won’t like every style of music, but someone will connect more deeply each week. And that might be a good symbol of working with family drama: giving each of us a different opportunity to grow in our own ways.”