Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania

Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 January 2012 17:39


Exploring the role of religion in a multi-faith society.


Dinner Dialogue

Tuesday, February 5, 2013; 5:45PM

St. Stephen's Episcopal Cathedral

donation of $5.00 is requested

Meet those of other faiths, and share your experiences with others.  The meal is simple but filling.  Also designed to include all participants' dietary restrictions.

If you need Handicap access please contact David Messner in advance at 770-0462.


The Amazing Faiths Dinner

The Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue in Harrisburg will be held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Cathedral on Thursday, January 26th.  Dinner will be served at 6:00.   St. Stephen's will be glad to arrange handicapped access by elevator, but please contact David Messner at 770-0462 in advance if you would like handicapped access. A contribution of $5 will be requested from those attending, except for students.   Registration will begin at 5:45 in the Cathedral Undercroft.

The Dinner Dialogue of the Amazing Faiths Dinner was created in 2006 by Dr. Jill Carroll who was at that time the Executive Director of the Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance at Rice University in Houston. Mayor Bill White convened a team of community interfaith leaders which included Dr. Carroll in Houston in the fall of 2006 to capture the spirit of a book of photography and religious text by Roy Spence, entitled: "Amazing Faiths of Texas."

Forming a partnership, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston and the Boniuk Center at Rice University produced the first Dinner Dialogue in January 2007 with 250 people who met in 20 host homes. A second Dinner Dialogue was held in November 2007 in two other Texas cities with 850 people in 75 host homes. In November 2008, Dinner Dialogues were held in ten cities throughout the country with more than 1500 participants, on the same night, in hundreds of host homes.

The Dinner Dialogues provide an opportunity for people to meet those of other faiths, with each participant sharing experiences with others in the group. At St. Stephen's Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, PA, all participants eat dinner and converse together, and are then divided into small groups which are assigned to meet in various separate rooms of the Cathedral complex. The meal is simple but filling, and designed to avoid infringing on participants' dietary restrictions. Dinner usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour.

Each of the small discussion groups is managed by a moderator who is trained to facilitate the conversation in a structured way. Dialogue cards, each with a question about religious experience are passed around the group, with each participant taking one card. Each group member is given five minutes, during which they are not to be interrupted, to discuss the question on the card. If a group member finds a particular card distasteful, he or she can put the card back into the pack and draw another card and question. Spouses are encouraged to attend separate groups in order to maximize the encounter with religious diversity.

The feeling of acceptance sometimes leads small group members to share stories of past religious encounters that have hurt them deeply. Some may share personal experiences of inspiration from deep moral commitments they have admired in others they have known.   These small group discussions last about 45 minutes.   At the end of the evening, the small groups re-convene in the Undercroft where the meal was served, to mingle and converse for another half hour.

In the two Amazing Faiths Dinners held to date at St. Stephen's, participants have left at the end of the evening, warmed by the deep spirituality they have encountered in those of other faiths.