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Friday, October 10, 2003
Last modified Thursday, October 9, 2003 11:21 PM PDT

Churches: Golden Rule unites us

By Carol Reeves
Gazette-Times reporter

"No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." (Islam)

"As thou deemst thyself, so deem others; then shalt thou become a partner in heaven." (Sikhism)

"Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." (Baha'i Faith)

No matter how you word it, the Golden Rule is a universal concept championed by all world religions. And, in the eyes of the Interfaith Committee of Corvallis, it's a key ingredient in different faiths learning how to get along with each other.

"Living the Golden Rule" was chosen as the theme of this year's second annual Community Interfaith Conference at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Austin Auditorium at LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St.
"We recognized a commonality that all faiths have a Golden Rule and we wanted to see how each asked its following to live it. Words and the letter are one thing, but the Spirit of the letter is quite another," said Marsha Moersch, chair of the Interfaith Committee.

"We have quite enough letter in our society, but we are trying to emphasize the Spirit of the letter. We have all agreed that in doing so, the process of actively bringing this second annual Community Interfaith Conference together is as important or possibly more important than the actual event. It plants seeds of peace and communication all across the valley," she said.

Sunday's event will feature seven speakers: the Rev. Ann Bateman, First United Methodist Church; Jim Blumenthal, assistant professor of Buddhist philosophy at Oregon State University; Amy Buccola, Beit Am Jewish Community; the Rev. John Evans, First Christian Church; the Rev. Bill McCarthy, Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan; Amir Mohamed Siala, Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center; and the Rev. Gretchen Woods, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Mary and David Dohrmann, ministers to the Corvallis Sufi Community, will serve as moderators and the Heart of the Valley Choir and pianist Ray Tricker will provide music.

A time of refreshments and fellowship will follow the service. Participants will also be able to gather information from displays and tables in the foyer set up by local faith communities and volunteer ministries.

Last year's Interfaith Conference drew about 200 people and the committee believes this year's attendance will be at least twice that.

The 2002 conference was primarily sponsored by the local Church of Christ, Scientist in response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. But a number of other congregations, peace groups and individuals are involved with the interfaith movement now, Moersch said.

The goal of the conference and other activities during the year is to encourage greater awareness of the diversity of faiths locally and better opportunities for networking together. Whenever there's a fifth Sunday in the month, the committee hosts an interfaith potluck gathering the next one, on Nov. 30, is in the new community center at First United Methodist Church.

"The purpose of the Interfaith Committee of Corvallis is to bring together peoples of all faiths, building bridges of understanding and nurturing confidence in the universal power of love," Moersch said. "By sharing experiences of God with an inclusive message of love, through prayer, story, song and personal testimony, we recognize our commonalities and respect our differences, strengthening the unity within our diversity."

Broadcasts of the 2002 conference, "Forgiveness and Healing," have been aired by Channel 29 each Sunday at 2 p.m. The 2003 conference will appear instead, as soon as the video production is edited.

For more information, call 754-1114 or see the Interfaith Committee's Web site,

©Copyright 2003, Corvallis Gazette-Times (OR, USA)

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