“Journey to the Tent of Abraham: The First Step” involved more than 75 walkers in October 2007. They traveled to various houses of worship in the Syracuse University area: University United Methodist Church, Grace Episcopal Church, Temple Society of Concord, Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life, Alibrandi Catholic Center and the Islamic Society of Central New York. At each site, members of the congregation welcomed us to come in, learn and enjoy a characteristic ritual or program.
The walk culminated at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel, a worship center that promotes interfaith understanding and cooperation. There we heard brief uplifting messages from leaders of our local faith communities.
We entered Hendricks Chapel through a tent open on all four sides. This tent was inspired by the story of the Tent of Abraham (told in the Bible’s Book of Genesis and in many parts of the Qur’an) where everyone, even a stranger, was welcomed with kindness and hospitality. Walking through this tent was part of a powerful symbolic coming-together of people from all faith traditions.
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“Journey to the Tent of Abraham: The Second Step” began at 1 pm on Sunday, April 28, 2013, at the University United Methodist Church and traced the same route as the previous walk in 2007, ending at Hendricks Chapel, where we had the opportunity to observe a pagan ritual before passing through the open-sided tent and ascending the steps into the chapel. During the six years between the two journeys, the leadership had changed at each place of worship, but all offered us a sincere welcome and hospitality. Final blessings were offered by members of two traditions not visited during the journey: Sikh and Native American. It was a beautiful spring day, and about 100 walkers participated in the journey and filled out a survey afterwards; for almost everyone, it was their first time to visit such a diverse array of places of worship, and many expressed appreciation for the opportunity to visit the places and gain a first-hand introduction to the faith traditions and the communities they serve.
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In creating these programs, WTB was inspired by a book, The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians and Muslims, coauthored by Joan Chittister, OSB; Murshik Saadi Shakur Chishti; and Rabbi Arthur Waskow. There was an unusual confluence of holy days in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and various non-Abrahamic faith traditions, including Baha’i, Hinduism, and Native American.
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