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Different cultures, faiths to be discussed during Unity seminar

To promote understanding of the world's major religions, Unity Church of North Idaho will sponsor a "Many Paths, One God" program beginning Wednesday.

Speakers of various faiths will discuss their beliefs, answer questions and lead a prayer or other sacred service.

Speakers will include followers of Islam, Yoga, Buddhism, Judaism, and the Baha'i Faith.

"One of the things we want to accomplish is to expose people to different beliefs and the awareness that there is more than one way to touch the sacred and experience the sacred," said the Rev. Marilyn Muehlbach, who is organizing the program. "There is no right way (to worship), there is just what works for different people."

She said that the events of Sept. 11 have made people realize there is a need to understand religions and cultures other than their own. The "Many Paths, One God" Series will help people compare the similarities and differences between their faith and other beliefs.

"The more we understand people, the more we trust people. The more we trust people, the better off we are and the less likely we are to hurt each other," Muehlbach said.

Unity Church held a similar seminar 15 years ago during the summer. Typically turnout is low at summer events, but "it was the only class that ever increased in attendance as it went along," Muehlbach recalled.

"For each person who came to speak, their religion seemed to be good for them. It made me see that Unity is right for me," she said.

The five faiths selected for the January series were chosen because they are all major world movements, she explained.

The Coeur d'Alene area does not have a large Buddhist community, a mosque, or a Jewish temple. However, despite the seeming isolation of the area, "the world is getting much smaller. There are very few place where we're not touched by other cultures," she said.

In a recent survey, diversity was seen as important by the Unity congregation. "Education is what we're about," Muehlbach said.

The series will wrap up in February with a discussion of the principles of Unity and an exploration of how people felt about what they heard in the program.

Unity is a Christian-based religion that follows the teachings of Jesus but also uses other sacred literature for inspiration and meaning. "A lot of people consider us New Age, but we don't consider ourselves New Age. New thought, maybe," Muehlbach said.

"Our religion is based on the goodness of God and the presence of God in all people. It's practical in that if you're not living it, it won't have much effect. We believe that what we think, do, say, and believe can influence the world," Muehlbach explained.

At Sunday services, a prayer is said, honoring all people, the many paths and many faiths of God while affirming the belief in one God.

The "Many Paths, One God" program is open to the public and Muehlbach said she is hoping that Unity gets a big draw from the community. The program will be held on six consecutive Wednesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Unity Church of North Idaho, 4465 N. 15th St.

Child care will be available. For more information, call the church office, 664-1125.

This sidebar appeared with the story:



The scheduled line-up of Unity's "Many Paths, One God" series is:

Wednesday: The Path of Yoga

Jan. 9: The Path of Buddhism

Jan. 16: The Path of Islam (tentative as of press time)

Jan. 23: The Path of Judaism (tentative as of press time)

Jan. 30: The Path of the Baha'i Faith

Feb. 6: The Path of Unity

©Copyright 2002, Spokesman Review

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