An interfaith All Saints at Holy Family, Half Moon Bay

Posted on November 10, 2014

On Sunday, November 2, Holy Family, Half Moon Bay, and Good Shepherd, Belmont, came together for their monthly Celebration of Shared Ministry, this time to celebrate the Feast of All Saints. Joining them was the Coastside Jewish Community (CJC), who visited for their family learning day. The presence of CJC offered an opportunity for an interfaith celebration of the feast, and allowed us to learn from one another and expand our understanding of one another’s faiths.

The service, otherwise a traditional celebration with renewal of Baptismal vows and celebration of the Eucharist, included a Torah portion (Deuteronomy 30: 15–20), read by the CJC Maggid, Jhos Singer, and offered in modern Israeli Hebrew by Sigal Kettler, followed by a short teaching by Jhos. This provided a dialogue with the Gospel lesson and the Rev. Michael Arase-Barham’s homily. During the prayers of the people, followed by the reading of the necrology, Maggid Jhos offered the mourner’s kaddish in Hebrew, and had several members of all three congregations read together a translation. At the Eucharist,  an Interfaith Fraction was offered by the Rev. Bonnie Ring and the Rev. Elizabeth Eddy, and Maggid Jhos offered blessings for those not receiving communion. To conclude the service, Maggid Jhos gave thanks for the beauty of the occasion, noting that centuries ago, our ancestors on both sides of the family would have “burned us at the stake,” and he offered a blessing for the assembled congregations that reminded us of the beauty of the mutual respect shared among the Jewish and Episcopal Coastside communities and the importance of teaching our children to continue this joyful dialogue.

The service provided a beautiful convergence, as Holy Family celebrated the 25th anniversary of the consecration of the church on All Saints in 1989, the first anniversary of Vicar Michael’s arrival, and a “goodbye” for Maggid Jhos who is preparing to depart for a new call in Berkeley. The prayers of the people included the litany and collects used at the consecration 25 years ago, and the bulletin cover was a reproduction of the consecration service bulletin, depicting a first century Jewish ossuary from the Holy Land.

Following the service, members of the three congregations shared a potluck and deep conversation. Many were overheard discussing opportunities for future gatherings of prayer, worship, dialogue, fellowship, and more yummy potluck food.  During CJC’s interim and search for a new spiritual leader, Holy Family will be offering weekly prayers during their service for CJC’s discernment, and we look forward to joining CJC for their annual community Hanukah celebration hosted at Holy Family on Sunday, December 21.

* The Rev. Michael Arase-Barham is vicar of Holy Family, Half Moon Bay, and Good Shepherd, Belmont.