Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Celebrating the spiritual diversity of the Lakeland Area

Representatives from area churches, fellowships, chaplains and religious and spiritual groups make up the Lakeland Ministerial Association and have been meeting regularly on a monthly basis in different area churches. The purpose of the Association is four-fold: to respond to social issues in our community; to celebrate and honor diversity within our community; to support one another and encourage growth within our spiritual community; and to plan and oversee ecumenical worship events for our community. Members mainly come from Christian backgrounds but also include the Unitarians and the Baha’i.
There is a profound focus and regard for the religious and spiritual lives of the people in this community. Discussion at each meeting usually centers on what we can learn about our communities, what we are doing for our communities, and what more can be done.
Two of our major projects are the Community Table and writing this regular bi-weekly “Faith and Values” column in the Lakeland Times. In addition, we actively support projects that address the issue of hunger, poverty and education and support each other’s events and community projects that are inspiring and uplifting.
The purpose of the Faith and Values column is to share with readers ideas and resources of healing, inspiration, vision and purpose and to expose and enrich the diversity of the vibrant spirituality of our larger community. The Faith and Values column is written by one of the Association’s various members every two weeks and focuses on giving each member’s unique spiritual perspective on topics of interest to the community.

The articles are focused on demonstrating the spiritual substance of the variety of faith traditions and practices and how this blesses everyone. Respect and dignity for the diversity of the churches and groups are celebrated as each group brings its gift to the larger community.

Every month, the Community Table is coordinated by the Ministerial Association and is energetically staffed by area churches. The idea behind it is a home-cooked community meal to all, with a focus to invite those who need to stretch their dollars at the end of the month.

The watchword is dignity to all, and no one should know who comes from the food pantry or is homeless and who isn't. So, we use china and real cups and silverware and everyone is encouraged to serve one another and help with clean up. It's a buffet style feast that includes 3-4 host churches' best foods: Grandma’s famous potato salad, Fred's silky chiffon cake, Al's mouthwatering squash casserole and on and on.

There are no agendas or sermons, just the community taking care of the community. There is something wholesome and real about serving others, and joining with others to do good works.

For more information, please contact one of the following: Rev. Edgar Wallace (356-6758), Pastor Maxine Gray (356-5080], Kim Korinek, CS (358-5350) or Charlotte Hockings (588-3560]

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