2 Faiths, 1 Home — a Shared Future?

In mid-May, more than 30 members of the UFP and Beth Israel communities gathered in curiosity, connection and play in response to this invitation:

What if Peterborough’s Jewish and Unitarian congregations could grow in friendship … creating a shared sense of belonging and ownership?”

“What if, every time we entered the building we felt at home as one family: our space, together? What playful experiments could we try that might lead the way to future collaborative possibilities?”

(Click on the images for larger versions with captions. Photos: Ben Wolfe)

At a 4-hour workshop and lunch, invited and hosted by members of both communities, we got to know each other better and explored ways of deepening our 10-year partnership in a shared space. We learned a great deal about each other’s dreams and needs, hopes and fears. Mostly, we looked for ways to spend more time together as we consider the options and implications of changing what has been largely a landlord-tenant relationship.

It has been comfortable and served us both well — but we seem to share a question. Can it be more? What might that make possible that is not possible now?

UFP members learned that the Beth Israel community spends more than 80% of its time and resources on building issues. The Beth Israel community discovered that the Unitarian congregation sometimes longs for a place that feels more like home, and can be a hub of community and social justice activity. We all discovered some easy possible ways to collaborate, starting by building on things we are already doing.

The process, based on participatory methods from our 2+ years of Community Conversations, led to the five shared projects below. Which might you want to join in?

  1. Singing Together
    A group is exploring gathering this summer to learn some songs from both traditions, and sing them at services in each congregation in the fall.
  2. A Shared Film Series
    A group is diving into jointly curating and hosting a film and dialogue series this coming year, building on many current interests and activities.
  3. Joint Social Justice Activities
    From food issues to refugee sponsorship to indigenous reconciliation, we are active in the community in many ways. What if we welcomed each other’s members into some of those efforts?
  4. Family Activities
    There were ideas for a fun fair, a parade float and more.
  5. Gardening Together
    A simple way to care for and enhance our shared space, while spending time together.
Music… Gardening… A shared film series… Joint social justice work… Family activities… More than 30 members of the UFP and Beth Israel communities proposed and began work on easy ways of getting to know each other better in the coming months, and deepening our two congregations’ relationship.