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Sharing Sacred Spaces in Chicago

Written by Susan Schwendener
October 17, 2011

Chicago-area religious and spiritual communities are gathering this fall through May 2012 in eight downtown places of worship. The program is intended to foster a better understanding of each others’ traditions and to begin to build a larger sense of community. “Sharing Sacred Spaces” is a project of the Sacred Space dimension of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, a group focused on building harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities in order to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. Suzanne Morgan, a retired architect with expertise in religious architecture, is the force behind this project. She believes that a space becomes sacred through the meaning it has for its community. Sharing that meaning can reduce social tension and cultural misunderstanding and build bridges of trust and hope. The Sacred Spaces design team hopes participants will begin to build a greater sense of community together by listening, learning and cultivating friendships. The first event was held October 2nd at the Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W. Menomonee, with over 100 participants attending. “There was such a beautiful, peaceful energy at the Midwest Buddhist Temple, and I particularly remember gasps of astonishment from people sitting near me,” said Gale Kryzak of Fourth Presbyterian Church. “Our Buddhist brothers and sisters blended their Buddhist principles, respect for nature and their building’s design into an organically insightful experience. Visiting the Temple with diverse faith communities was bridge-building at its best.” Other participants also noted that the afternoon was both an introduction to Buddhism and the beginnings of a sense of community. “I had never been inside the Midwest Buddhist Temple before, so I was very excited about going,” said Peter Rubnitz of Chicago Sinai Congregation. “We first had a tour of the facility. We all then met up in the main sanctuary where Rev. Ron Miyamura welcomed us and gave us a history of the Temple and answered questions about Shin Buddhism. I knew very little about it going in and came away with a much clearer understanding about the basic precepts of the religion. “After going outdoors and listening to a member speak about the Temple’s architecture, we reconvened in the lower level for refreshments and socializing,” Rubnitz said. “I’m looking forward to the next experience. The more we get together, the more comfortable we will get and the easier it will be to discuss issues of mutual importance.” Lois Carlson, of 17th Church of Christ, Scientist, said that she was moved by the beautiful spirit of compassion and joy that Buddhists live. “There is a great respect for individuality, with individual values maintained in the afterlife. Buddhists are not concerned with the afterlife, but are more concerned about the spiritual life here.” Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin,of the Downtown Islamic Center agreed. “The desire to do good and be caring is common among all faiths,” he said. “The openness to discuss and answer questions at the Midwest Buddhist Temple was one of the highlights of my visit. I have a lot more questions for me to understand their faith and practices.” Seven similar events at Chicago places of worship will be held through May 12, 2012. For engaging information about each of the sacred spaces participating, go to the Sharing Sacred Spaces web page on the Council for a Parliament of World Religions website.
Sharing Sacred Spaces
Schedule: Chicago 2011-2012
October 2, 2011 Midwest Buddhist Temple 2-4 pm, 435 West Menomonee Street, Chicago, IL, 60614, midwestbuddhisttemple.orgOctober 23, 2011 Fourth Presbyterian Church 2-4 pm, 126 E. Chestnut Street, Chicago, 60611-2094, fourthchurch.orgNovember 6, 2011 Saint James Episcopal Cathedral 2-4 pm, 65 E. Huron Street, Chicago, 60611, saintjamescathedral.orgJanuary 29, 2012 Chicago Sinai Congregation 1-3 pm,15 West Delaware Place, Chicago, 60610, chicagosinai.orgFebruary 19, 2012 First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple 2-4 pm, 77 West Washington Street, Chicago, 60602, chicagotemple.orgMarch 18, 2012 Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago 2-4 pm, 55 East Wacker Drive Chicago, 60601, christiansciencechicago.orgApril 22, 2012 Old St. Patrick’s Church 2-4p m, 700 West Adams St., Chicago, IL 60661, oldstpats.orgMay 12, 2012 Downtown Islamic Center 1-3 pm, 231 S. State Street, Chicago, 60604,