Christians, Jews, Muslims – all members of faiths that claim descent from Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, in whose family God promised “all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Five thousand years later their spiritual descendants are often trapped in mutual suspicion, misunderstanding, and conflict.
This pre- and early-Advent spiritual journey is an opportunity to explore the mutual roots in story of the three “Abrahamic religions.” It will focus on what we have in common, how each faith’s wisdom can enrich our own, and how to begin having interfaith conversations, a spiritual journey relevant to today’s world.
Learners must obtain the book “The Faith Club” by Ranya Idilby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner, which is not included in the course fee. This is the story of the three New Yorkers’ interfaith journey after 9/11.
Since this session is during November and December, there will be readings and opportunity for discussion each Monday-Friday except for Thanksgiving weekend. It ends the second week of Advent. There is no set time to be online.
This course has been approved by Discipleship Ministries as an advanced course in Lay Servant Ministries. It provides the required 10 contact hours.
This course is eligible for 2.0 CEUs.
About the Instructor
Rev. Beth Galbreath is a United Methodist deacon who has traveled through Israel/Palestine, Jordan, and Turkey on in-depth study trips. She has also studied and taught the United Methodist Women’s course on Israel/Palestine and Middle East issues.
One of her churches hosted a Shia (Iranian) Muslim group every Thursday. In that church, her Biblical storytelling group led a powerful “story sharing and potluck” evening connecting the two congregations. And, as a member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers International, she has also heard and connected with Jewish storytellers and their stories.
All these experiences inspired the conviction that understanding one another begins with sharing our stories – including the origin stories of all three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. That’s the goal of this course: to help those of us who don’t have Jewish or Muslim friends to “hear” some of their stories, as well as those we share.
Past Students Said…
“Children of Abraham was a fascinating survey of the connections among Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The discussion-focused format of the course allowed us to get to know one another well and hear diverse ideas about the course materials and topics. I would highly recommend this course as a daily lesson or meditation for pre-Advent or Lent.”
“This course has broadened my understanding of Judaism but more so of Islam. Our daily readings and questions, along with “The Faith Club” has caused me to pause and has dispelled some preconceptions as well as ideas which have been presented in our culture about violence as a tenet of Islam. I understand that just as Christianity has extremists, so does Islam. The daily readings coupled with “The Faith Club” were very enlightening and the questions causes “soul searching”. I have already recommended this course to others and will continue to do so. Thank you!”
“My favorite part of the course was the space that it offered to closely examine my own beliefs about some fundamental theological concepts. The Faith Club was an excellent prompt to thought when paired with the daily assignment.”
“I am going to miss this class. The spiritual discipline of the class was re-newing and re-invigorating. … I used it as a mirror to understand other areas of misunderstanding and conflict in my life. Clearly listening and honest conversations are needed.”
“Hatred is exactly why I signed up for “Children of Abraham” when Beth announced the course. My mother’s parents spoke heavily accented English and preferred to speak German at home in Cincinnati. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, as Germany was allied with Japan, my grandparents’ neighbors kicked down the back door, seized their radio, and smashed it in the driveway. My mother was chased down the block by schoolmates and beaten for being ‘one of them.’ My mother impressed on me and my siblings how isolated she and her family felt, as once-trusted neighbors gave in to fear and hysteria. I took the “Children of Abraham” class to be reminded that we are all precious children of God, no matter our language, no matter our nationality, no matter our religion. And we, as the storytellers, have the honor of learning their stories, telling ours, and sharing God’s marvelous world with one another. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
“I really liked that the assignments were not overwhelming. The daily readings were reasonable, understandable and agreed with the assignments in a logical way.”
“It is one of the best designed courses I have ever taken. It was accessible to those with very little knowledge about Islam and Judaism and provided challenges to those at all knowledge/experience levels. The reflection questions were designed in a way that allowed each student to respond in ways that were personally meaningful. It is an excellent Lenten study. Also the instructor, Beth Galbreath, responded to student posts in a manner that was accepting and encouraging while at the same time she clarified misunderstandings students might have.”