Bring up the topic Cape Henlopen Progressive Interfaith Alliance, and you may get a blank look.
It all started eight years ago, with a negative.
Lewes-Rehoboth Association of Churches clergy members learned that, according to the World Council of Churches, the Unitarian Universalists Church of Southern Delaware and the Seaside Jewish Community could not be LRAC members because they do not worship Christ or believe in the Trinity observed by Christian churches.
“There was much prayerful discussion,” said the Rev. Jeffrey Ross, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lewes, now LRAC president. “We focused on these and other beliefs:
• People of faith have more in common that not
• There is a place at the table in our community for all people of faith
• Unity can overcome estrangement and misunderstanding
Our of these discussions, a new group, the Cape Henlopen Progressive Interfaith Alliance formed. And, now, there are two faith-based groups in the beach area, LRAC and PIA. Many LRAC members, including Ross, have dual memberships.
“Progressive means that we are open to others,” said Ross. “Interfaith means that we are not just Christian, and alliance means that we support each other.”
The Rev. Michael Smith, leader of the Lewes-Rehoboth Unitarian Universalists Church of Southern Delaware and a member of PIA, said recently, “The fact that the PIA was formed and supported by all was amazing."
Beth Cohen of the Seaside Jewish community also takes a leadership role in the PIA.
Some examples of PIA accomplishments are:
• A bus trip to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at a Philadelphia display
• PIA and LRAC members leant support to a service at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy
• Members of PIA and LRAC assisted Cape Henlopen High School with its yearly baccalaureate service to make sure that all faiths are represented
“In the future, the PIA plans to be involved with the Community Resource Center, which lends a hand to those in need in our community, and to continue bringing together people of all faiths,” said Cohen.
For more information, contact Cohen at 302-858-2374 or Smith at 302-362-2769.
The Rev. Jeffrey Ross, rector of St. Peter’s Church in Lewes, is now on a sabbatical, taking 35 days to walk the Camino 500 mile pilgrimage in Spain which winds up in San Tiago. “It’s designed for spiritual development,” he said. He will return June 1.