The Purpose of These Guidelines
The goal of these guidelines is to assist those planning interfaith prayer services to do so in ways which will enable all those present to feel included and to participate wholeheartedly . . . to seek the best level of inspiration, the highest common denominator, without compromise of conscience. An interfaith prayer service is defined as liturgy which include clergy and/or laity of different faiths as full and equal participants. A denominational liturgy to which members of other faiths are invited is not considered an interfaith prayer service in these guidelines.
A concern for inclusive language will serve the planners well. It is important to draw on the universal and unifying aspects of our various traditions and to use prayers, readings, litanies, hymns, and other elements of a service that lift up the commitment to peace and justice in the world, and to any event or person which may be commemorated in the service.
Scripture and Prayer
The reading of sacred Scripture from each tradition involved in the service is most appropriate. As with hymns and each other part of the service, they should be selected with their inclusive nature in mind. Prayer is helpful when all feel included and can say “Amen.”
Some appropriate ways of addressing God are: “Creator,” “Source of All Life,” “Our God and Sustainer,” “Eternal Creator,” and “Source of Our Being.” Some appropriate closing addresses include: “In Thy name we pray,” “In the Name of God,” “And so it is” or simply, “Amen.”
Interfaith events set in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other sanctuary acknowledge the physical integrity of the house of worship. Consideration should be given to the temporary removal of symbols or objects that might cause others distress and which can be easily removed. Similarly, the addition of banners, symbols or expressions of welcome that may make guests feel more at home should be explored.
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