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Interfaith studies program set for ’09

Why are Pagan symbols allowed on military tombstones? What do American Indians mean by “medicine”? What is the relationship between faith and eating?

A coalition of McHenry County faith communities has developed a two-year certification program to respond to questions such as these.

“Our area is becoming increasingly diverse, both ethnically and religiously,” said Budd Friend-Jones, senior minister at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake. “We’re wanting to become more informed, more cosmopolitan, about our beliefs.”

The organizers describe the classes, called Faith to Faith, Face to Face, as more rigorous than Sunday school but less demanding than a university program.

Participants will learn about the beliefs, practices, history and texts of various world faith traditions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

Baha’i, Native American and Sikhism also will be explored.

Participants will visit and, to the degree allowed, observe and participate in the rituals, worship, or prayers of the different faith communities.

Classes will meet at the First Congregational Church in Crystal Lake from 7 to 9 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of each month. Dates may change occasionally to accommodate holy days of each faith or major secular holidays.

The registration fee is $145 a semester, and a certificate of interfaith studies will be awarded upon completion of four semesters. There are no prerequisites.

The program is supported a McHenry County Community Foundation grant.

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