Interfaith Encounters Day 2

March 18th, 2013

This evening we visited the Bharatiya Hindu Temple in Chalfont, PA.

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We were greeted warmly by leaders of the temple community and invited into the large hall downstairs.

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There we learned about the physical structure and history of the temple and about the prayer practices that we would experience upstairs in their sacred space. After removing our shoes, we were led upstairs.

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Our hosts did a wonderful job of introducing us to the various deities enshrined in the temple, such as Sri Ganesha.

sriganesha While our hosts explained, worshipers entered the prayer space and we were able to experience the leadership of the three priests present that evening in the temple for Shiva Abhishekam. They rang bells and chanted songs–waving lit candles in the air. Their songs filled the space and the people gathered there also joined in.

We were also able to see the shrine for those who practice the Jain faith.

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Soon after, one of the priests began to chant and then he started to fling holy water towards all of us gathered there.
Then, each person was invited forward to participate in a ritual utilizing water from the Ganges River that was placed in our right hand by the priest. We then drank it and received a piece of fruit.

Afterwards, we returned downstairs to the community’s hall for Q&A and some delicious Indian snacks.

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I learned so much from this experience! I especially appreciated something that both of our hosts shared:

Any religious practice should make us a better person. That’s the point.

SAMSUNGUntil tomorrow…namaste.

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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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