A blend of faiths have united in Newberry County in hopes or moving towards better understanding.
The Interfaith Partners of Newberry County consists of 10 people thus far who meet about monthly to bring about ideas to unite the community and the different faiths represented.
“We will incorporate a diversity of faiths and (so far) we represent the following: Universalist Unitarian, Baha’i, Muslim, Siddi Yoga and Christian,” said John Halfacre, who is in charge of the Newberry Interfaith group.
“One of our first plans is to identify diversity in Newberry County,” Halfacre said, who has asked around and have discovered there are Hindus, Muslims and Native Americans in or around the county.
The organization will sponsor different events during the year. In fact, they already have a discussion concerning the teachings of Jesus Christ and Muhammad each month in Prosperity at the local coffee shop.
“Our belief is, what makes a community a healthier place is to live where we understand different faiths and what we have in common,” said Halfacre, “Sometimes tension and stress come from misunderstanding. We hope to offer programs to help by knowing how to connect.”
The 10 people had their first meeting in September, according to Halfacre, which was basically a get to know each other meeting.
Halfacre said that he hopes the group will “be a community service organization; an instrument for making Newberry a better place to live.”
“If we can plant some seeds throughout the county, it can grow and spread and become a force for common good,” he explained.
Planting seeds is what they hope to do for the county so that the community may understand and unite more.
Halfacre adds that all of the members thus far have strong beliefs, so the seed planting should be easier to spread.
Halfacre has plowed through his mind for many ideas and there are many activities that have either just started or will start this year and the beginning of next year. If anyone has questions regarding events or the Newberry Interfaith group, they may contact Halfacre at 924-3490 or email him at email@example.com.
• Interfaith dialogue at The Blend in Prosperity. Directed by Rudy Barnes. Topic: comparing teachings of Jesus and Muhammad. For this event, contact Barnes at 345-1212; space is limited. Free.
• World History class at Newberry College taught by professor Dr. Mike Beggs. The public is invited to attend on Tuesdays from 6-8:30 p.m.; no cost.
• Dinner dialogue meeting representing a variety of faiths with a meal at someone’s house and various interfaith discussions. Free.
• Turkey drive project provides local places of worship with an opportunity to contribute to the purchase of turkeys for a home. All funds will stay in Newberry County to help those who need food assistance.
• Thanksgiving celebration in downtown Newberry on Memorial Square on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. Experience Thanksgiving through the eyes of different faiths. Free.
• Seminar on Islam on Jan. 24 at Newberry College at 7 p.m. for general public. Five Muslim panelists will discuss variety of topics regarding current Islamic issues.
• Spirituality expressed through the performing arts on Jan. 27 at the Newberry Opera House starting at 3 p.m. Ten faiths will be represented.
If anyone of the following faiths — Baha’i, Christian, Muslim, Native American, Universalist Unitarian, Buddhism, Islam, Pagan, Sikh, Jewish or Hindu — wish to get involved with the Interfaith Partners of Newberry, they may contact Halfacre. Of course, the group is not limited to these faiths.
The Newberry Interfaith group is an umbrella group under the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina, according to Halfacre.
“We believe every faith has a story,” says Halfacre, “Our goal is not to convert people. Many times people find their beliefs strengthened by understanding different faiths.”