2016 “Sprouts of Peace” programming for young children in the planting process!

Interfaith Partnership is currently engaged with three local religious communities to create a 2016 pilot program for young children of Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths.  The goal is to make new friends and to learn about and celebrate the similarities and differences among the three Abrahamic traditions.  Here’s the back story…

At Peace UCC. Left to Right: David Mehl (Interfaith Partnership) Laura Bardelmeier (Peace UCC) Farhat Shekhani (Islamic Foundation) Rev. Al Schon (Peace UCC) Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro (United Hebrew)
At Peace UCC. Left to Right: David Mehl (Interfaith Partnership),
Laura Bardelmeier (Peace UCC), Farhat Shekhani (Islamic Foundation), Rev. Al Schon (Peace UCC), Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro (United Hebrew)

Peace United Church of Christ, Webster Groves, has held a peacemaking summer program for children over a number of years and decided to reach out to local Jewish and Muslim communities to create something together. Peace UCC representatives contacted Interfaith Partnership and quickly a small, three-faith leadership team came together to imagine the possibilities.  Earlier this summer, representatives from United Hebrew Congregation, the Islamic Foundation of St. Louis and Peace United Church of Christ sat down and began the “germination” process – each faith community bringing ideas, resources and a cooperative spirit together.  The target age group is 4-7, with about ten children from each tradition for the first engagements in early 2016.  Three events are in the planning stages – one in January at United Hebrew, one in late February at the Islamic Foundation on Weidman Road and the third in April at Peace UCC in Webster Groves.  Each event would be held on a Saturday afternoon for about two and a half hours, and each would include “getting to know you” and your rich culture through games, storytelling, experiencing the worship space and its symbols, plus play time and a snack. Discussion is also underway about parallel parent programming during the afternoon sessions.  Older youth may be used as helpers and resources for each host location.  Pictured at a recent brainstorming meeting at Peace UCC are the initial planning group members, from left –  David Mehl, Interfaith Partnership staff, Laura Bardelmeier, member of Peace UCC, Farhat Shekhani, Islamic Foundation, Rev. Al Schon, Peace UCC staff, and Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro, Rabbi and Director of Life Long Learning, United Hebrew.  (Not pictured is Maliha Aziz, Islamic Foundation and IP Board member at the time of the group’s formation.)

Watch for more information about “Sprouts of Peace” — growing for peace — watered from the deep roots of the tree with the branches of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

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