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!


Posted by

Josh grew up in the Midwest before completing a B.A. in Theatre at Northwestern College [IA] and a Masters of Divinity [M.Div.] at Princeton Theological Seminary [NJ]. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ [UCC], Josh has lived and worked in the Midwest, East Coast, Hawai’i, and Mexico. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Welcome Project PA, host of the Bucks-Mont PRIDE Festival, and he is Pastor of Love In Action UCC, an open and affirming congregation featured in a Vox Media episode of Divided States of Women with Liz Plank and in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Josh has 20+ years of nonprofit experience, including leading workshops and training in corporate, medical, and academic settings, focused on diversity & inclusion, grant writing, fund raising, and program management. Josh is a fellow of Interfaith Philadelphia, and designs and coordinates HS and University student groups for interfaith immersion service-learning weeks. Josh also co-facilitates Ally trainings for LGBTQIA+ inclusion and interfaith cooperation. He is a founding member of The Society for Faith & Justice, and a Collaborator for Nurturing Justice, and a member of the Driving PA Forward team via New Sanctuary Movement. He also performs regularly with the dinner theatre company, Without a Cue Productions, and has developed theatre arts curriculum for use in religious and secular settings. Josh also enjoys running, singing, traveling, learning languages, or making strange and funny faces. He lives in Center City Philly.

Leave a Reply