Interfaith Encounters Alternative Break

The University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire arrives tonight in Philly!

Here is a preview of what we’ll be experiencing on Day 1, tomorrow:

Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

mother-bethel-churchMother Bethel played an important role in the advancement of African Americans dating back to the 18th century. It is the mother church of the nation’s first black denomination. Founded in 1797, the church rests upon the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans.

The museum of the church includes intriguing artifacts from its history. Recently installed exhibits depict the church’s role as an underground Railroad station.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church seeks to carry out the spirit of the Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved:
(1) preaching the gospel
(2) feeding the hungry
(3) clothing the naked
(4) housing the homeless
(5) cheering the fallen
(6) providing jobs for the jobless
(7) administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums, and mental institutions, senior citizens’ homes; caring for the sick, the shut-in, the mentally and socially disturbed
(8) encouraging thrift and economic advancement.

Sikh Sabha of New Jersey


Members of the Sikh American community numbering over half a million (originally from Punjab, India) have been living in the United States for over a hundred years and in New Jersey from the last 50 years. The last 20 years have seen a large growth in the numbers in this area and correspondingly in establishing of several of their new places of worship (Gurdwaras).

Sikhism is based on the concepts of universal acceptance of all humanity, the belief in one creator, and reaching out to people of all faiths and cultures and to work toward world peace and in achieving unity in diversity. People of all races, religions and genders are equal in the eyes of God.

The Gurdwara is the great equalizer: all who come to hear the message of the holy scriptures of the Sikhs are respected and treated as equal to another, no matter what their religion, race, color, origin. Significantly, men and women are also treated as equals.

The Gurdwara serves as an oasis of divine knowledge for people of all origins and of all faiths, and even those who have no faith. It is a place, which acts as a focal point for Sikh religious celebrations and customs. Another important part of the Gurdwara service is the free community meal “Langar” where the rich and the poor sit together and eat as equals.

What a day it will be! Check in with us tomorrow!


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Josh grew up in Indiana and Iowa before completing a Masters of Divinity [M.Div.] at Princeton Theological Seminary [NJ]. He has worked in a variety of settings, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ (UCC) in Philadelphia, Hawai’i, Mexico, and Michigan. Currently, he serves as pastor of Love in Action United Church of Christ, a progressive, Christian, LGBTQIA+ affirming and interfaith community in Hatboro, a suburb of Philadelphia. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre/Speech from Northwestern College (IA). Josh has worked with youth and young adult programs for 25 years regionally, nationally, and in Latin America. He is also a trained actor and performs regularly with the dinner theatre company, Without a Cue Productions, LLC. He has developed theatre arts curriculum for use in worship, youth groups, education, and group-building. Josh is also committed to promoting religious pluralism and partnering with people of all faiths and those who identify as atheist or agnostic to build bridges of shared values and cooperation. He is honored to work with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia as a Fellow and a Consultant. Focus areas include: University alternative spring break and summer programs that incorporate faith encounters and service-learning for students; workplace diversity programs that promote understanding in organizations, corporations, schools, and hospital settings. Josh also enjoys playing basketball, strumming on the guitar, traveling, learning language, or making strange and funny faces. He lives in Center City Philadelphia and thinks vegan cheesesteaks are amazingly good.

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