Guest post by Bernice Swinton, Economic Dignity Fellow at Faith in New York (FINY)
There are about 15 different verses I can count on from various books in the Bible that speak about loving our neighbor(s). With this in mind, I’ve heard numerous sermons preached and have read about this topic, but the questions still remains: how can I love my neighbor if I only know what I have assumed about them?
Thanks to FINY’s Clergy Consultant, Pastor Brian Ellis-Gibbs of Queens Baptist Church in Queens, we have started to answer this question. Pastor Gibbs has helped develop and introduce the Breaking Bread Series to our organization and community which serves to address questions surrounding numerous religious beliefs and their practices. He is on a mission to not only answer these questions with an interfaith perspective, but to demonstrate how we are all indeed neighbors under the heavens as we are all created in the image of God, as I believe in my faith tradition, which is non-denominational.
On Monday, June 6, 2016, I attended the first of the Breaking Bread Series events. Our hosts were Rabbi David Wise and Rabbi Manes Kogan of the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Queens. It was a mixed gathering of laypersons, clergy, and Imams. What a day! I learned so much about the Jewish religion and their beliefs and practices. I now know what the name and purpose of the little hat that they wear (it’s a Kippot) and how it is worn as a reminder of their encounter with God (I was always curious). We also learned about the significance of the stained glass windows in their temples. This too is a reminder of their journey with God. The information was endless and inspiring.
As a Fellow for the Economic Dignity Campaign, my experience with FINY has been a phenomenal journey, and this Breaking Bread Series continues to complement what I believe to be a lit path under my feet. It is a path of consciousness to an understanding of what it means to love my neighbor. To love is to serve those who suffer with compassion; it is the ability to show patience and genuine concern for the well being of others. I am excited and look forward to the upcoming installments in the Breaking Bread Series. I believe as I get to know and love my neighbor(s) I am getting to know and understand the true essence of God.
I invite you to join us! To get info about our next Breaking Bread encounter, please contact Andrew Hausermann at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 718-426-6564. I also invite you to learn to love your neighbor(s) by attending any upcoming FINY events – you can check them out at our events page here: https://faithinnewyork.org/calendar