Rev. James Parks Morton, former Dean of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City describes the spirit of Interfaith in this way:
Most fundamentally, interfaith is respect. Respect for different traditions, different religions, and different faiths. It is coming to understand them. And more, it is coming to love them. All of us have so many layers in our lives. We speak many languages and listen to diverse music. We eat many different kinds of foods. It is time that our spiritual diet, too, becomes a healthy mixed menu. Its very variety makes us richer, deeper, more understanding. It is time to come together in respect, understanding, and the common breaking of our many daily breads together.
For many people, the idea of Interfaith has taken on a new meaning as well. It now points to the possibility of walking a more inclusive spiritual path, a path of integral spiritual practice that draws from the wisdom teachings of many different traditions. In her book, “Barefoot on Holy Ground,” author and teacher, Gloria Karpinski, articulates both the pitfalls and possibilities of this approach:
Before our times, a path made up of stepping stones from different religions was not as viable an option. Now, thanks to our diverse forms of communication, the concepts, language, rituals, and messages that were once considered esoteric have been woven into our lives. We’re gradually becoming more comfortable with everything from Native American vision quests to Eastern mantras. . . . There is always a risk in taking material out of its cultural context. . . . There is always the danger of trivializing, oversimplifying, or distorting. And there is the possibility of wondrous discoveries, recognition of universality, shifting perceptions, and reexamination of conditioning and personal myths, all leading to probing our own path more deeply.
Our understanding of Interfaith~Interspiritual Ministry encompasses both of these perspectives and goes a step further to encompass Brother Wayne Teasdale’s’ vision of interspirituality as described in his landmark book, “The Mystic Heart.” In it he says:
Intersprituality is not about eliminating the world’s rich diversity of religious expression. It is not about rejecting these traditions’ individuality for a homogeneous superspirituality. It is not an attempt to create a new form of spiritual culture. Rather, it is an attempt to make available to everyone all the forms the spiritual journey assumes…made possible by the openness of people who have a viable spiritual life, coupled with their determination, capacity, and commitment to the inner search across traditions.
In that light, regardless of their own religious tradition or spiritual path, Interfaith~Interspiritual ministers are trained professionals who are dedicated to serving the spiritual needs of all those who seek their guidance, counsel, and assistance, without regard to race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ethnic background, gender or age. Have chosen to learn about, respect, and appreciate the diversity of paths to the Divine, and to look for the universal truth in each one.
Seek to promote understanding, harmony, and love among people by emphasizing what is universal in the teachings of the many spiritual paths and faith traditions. Are committed to the ongoing deepening of their own spiritual practice and connection to the Divine, so that their service to others is always grounded in the integrity of their own spiritual life.