faith communities

A set of three hands hold one another during interfaith prayer and interfaith studies.

What Is Required of You?

Like the Prophet Micah, you may be wondering what is required of you to sponsor a successful Interfaith Bridges™ program?  (FYI, Micah was a prophet whose book is included in the Hebrew Scriptures.  His most famous saying is “O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8.)

 

Below we specify the “just add water” part of the Interfaith Bridges™ programs—that is, what you bring to the table!

 

A successful Interfaith Bridges program requires two or three sponsoring faith communities (Christian, Jewish and/or Muslim) to commit to co-sponsor a program. Together these communities will need to provide:

  • Sites for six evening meetings - the meetings will be split among the two or three cosponsoring faith communities. Each meeting room needs to be large enough to host up to 30 people, either as a single assembly, in four small separate discussion groups, four dinner groups, and accommodate group video viewing 

  • A sanctuary tour with resident or visiting clergy (virtual sanctuary tours may be an option) at each sponsoring organization’s designated sanctuary

  • Two facilitators from each co-sponsoring faith community

  • Eight (tri-faith) or 12 (bi-faith) participants, from each of the co-sponsoring faith communities

  • Possibly two dinners for participants and facilitators (first and last; other four dinners are pot lucks); possibly cake for last session 

  • Four large easels with flip pads and some different colored markers for each easel 

  • Name tags and table place cards for participants, facilitators and clergy

  • Video viewing equipment for the group (laptop, screen, possibly projector)

  • Support from the staff of the facilities for setup and cleanup

  • Enthusiastic support from the clergy and lay leadership to help promote the program and recruit facilitators

A sponsoring faith community will enter into a program resources terms of use agreement with us, and pay the applicable program fee; co-sponsors will enter into the program terms of use agreement and may make arrangements to reimburse the sponsor as appropriate. Facilitators will enter into access terms of use. See our FAQs for more information, or contact us!

Our successful experience offering our Building Bridges programs with different faith communities over many years makes us confident that if you follow our Interfaith Bridges program plan you will have a meaningful and enjoyable program for all participants!

Here are some important things to keep in mind as you are getting started:

Finding Co-Sponsoring Faith Communities

In our experience, the best partners among faith communities are neighboring faith communities who share a strong interest in building interfaith relationships. Successful sponsoring faith communities approach interfaith dialogue with openness and curiosity, generosity of spirit, hospitality, and a desire to build friendships. Of course, faith communities must not approach the Interfaith Bridges program with a goal of converting participants from other faiths to their religion! Supportive clergy in each faith community are essential to help the program succeed. Although all of the program work is done by lay facilitators, clergy can identify facilitators and likely participants in the congregations. Some faith communities also partner with another like-minded community of the same faith to assure a larger pool of potential participants, and will share responsibilities.

The best partners among faith communities are neighboring faith communities who share a strong interest in building interfaith relationships

Recruiting Facilitators

Facilitators committed to the program are absolutely essential to the success of any Interfaith Bridges program. Because these programs are designed to be lay-led, it is important to identify capable leaders in your congregation who are interested in interfaith relationship building and are willing to

  • familiarize themselves with the program and their roles;

  • market the program and actively recruit participants;

  • meet with other facilitators to plan and implement the program and prepare for each session;

  • attend and lead the sessions, and in particular, facilitate small group discussions; and

  • consult with Building Bridges Together staff as appropriate.
     

Facilitators are enthusiastic ambassadors of the Interfaith Bridges program and make the experience fun for the entire group. In our experience, facilitators develop close friendships with their colleagues working closely on the Interfaith Bridges program. 

Facilitators are enthusiastic ambassadors of the Interfaith Bridges program and make the experience fun for the entire group

Recruiting Participants
  • Participants are adults recruited from the sponsoring faith communities. They may be individuals or couples.  One member of a couple may choose to participate; it is not uncommon for the other spouse to attend a later program.

  • Potential participants and facilitators may also find additional participants among communities beyond the faith community - for example, their spouse, their choir, their work, their book club, their hiking club, their neighbors! Participants may recruit participants of the other represented faith, too!  

  • A six-session dinner program is a significant time commitment. To build a community of trust, it is essential that participants commit to attend each session absent an emergency.  The reality is that not everyone who might like to attend will be able to do so, no matter how excited they are about the idea of an interfaith program. Therefore, it is wise to cast a wide net for interested participants.

  • Ideally an Interfaith Bridges program has 24 participants, 12 each from two faith communities, or eight from three faith communities.  While often facilitators start out the process concerned about recruiting enough participants, in the end our programs have always had a full complement - although sometimes our last participant signs up on the last day possible! If you believe in this program, others will too! Have faith!

  • The key to recruiting participants to an Interfaith Bridges Program is a personal invitation. While word of the exciting new program may spread both within the faith community and outside to interested community members, the core group of participants is usually invited personally by facilitators. 

  • The people who sign up were meant to be there, by the grace of God….Inshallah, the program will wind up with the right people at the table, and let the relationship building begin!

The key to recruiting participants to an Interfaith Bridges Program
is a personal invitation!​

Two Muslim men sit in a field of grass speaking with one another with the caption, "The most powerful way to resist evil is to sit with good friends who have turned their faces to God. - Rumi"

Next Steps

If you are interested in learning more about the Interfaith Bridges program, please contact us!   And be sure check out our FAQs!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUILD BRIDGES WITH US?

WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.