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The ministry of reconciliation

From the March 2003 issue of The Christian Science Journal

On paper it looked simple. An interfaith organization in Nashville, Tennessee, decided to plan a "Women in World Religions" conference. The purpose was to provide women with an opportunity to explain their deeply felt spiritual convictions. But, as the planning got underway, suspicion, deeply rooted hurt feelings, and anger at the community's treatment of religious minorities bubbled to the surface. Getting women to come to the first planning session turned out to be an exercise in grace.

Prayer, love, and respect, though, were what eventually brought the group together. At the planning sessions, the deeper spiritual truths upon which we all agreed began to surface. And the conference ended up reflecting this unity. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Bahais, Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative Jews, and Christians from numerous denominations attended with a motive to inform, not convert. The diversity of dress and religious practice was amazing. And it didn't divide the participants. It seemed that God brought people together on a divine, rather than a human, basis. The atmosphere resonated with love and joyous expectation.

Being able to express our deepest religious convictions, share how God was visible in our lives, explain the scriptures that brought us all inspiration, comfort, and guidance was like breathing out after holding one's breath for a lifetime. Friendships were forged that continue more than ten years later.

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