Lynnwood church’s credo: Celebrate humanity

Posted on February 5th, 2012

By Julie Muhlstein, Herald Writer

The Rev. Steven Greenebaum has a collection of books representing different faith traditions. His Living Interfaith Church meets the second and fourth Sunday of each month in the cafeteria of Lynnwood’s Alderwood Middle School.

LYNNWOOD — On one Sunday, members of the Living Interfaith Church will learn about actions in the United Nations General Assembly. On another, the topic will be Abraham Lincoln.

Those aren’t subjects churchgoers typically encounter at Sunday services. At Living Interfaith, which meets two Sundays each month at Alderwood Middle School, members have come to expect themes that broaden their horizons.

The Rev. Steven Greenebaum started the church in 2010 by holding services in his Lynnwood home. At the root of his mission is the idea that there is no single “right” spiritual answer.

“None of us is there to convert or convince anybody,” Greenebaum said Thursday. “We’re there to celebrate our common humanity and learn from each other.”

On different Sundays, the church honors traditions of various faiths. The group celebrated and learned about Christmas, Hanukkah and, for Chinese New Year, Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist beliefs.

As for his own background, Greenebaum said “I am excruciatingly hard to categorize. I am Jewish. I have not left Judaism, it’s still my spiritual path.” He is also ordained as an interfaith minister. Before starting the Lynnwood church, he was involved with the Interfaith Community Church in Seattle’s Ballard area.

“I have never felt that any one group had the right answer — and that included my own,” Greenebaum said. “My question was about one path being the path, not that my path was wrong.”

Greenebaum has written a book on the subject, called “The Interfaith Alternative,” due out in April from New Society Publishers.

At its Feb. 12 gathering, Living Interfaith members will learn about the United Nations recognition of World Interfaith Harmony Week, the first week of February. The U.N. General Assembly this week heard from speakers representing the world’s major religions.

Greenebaum said he learned about World Interfaith Harmony Week from people he had met from Jordan. The week was first observed by the UN in 2011.

“It is at the core of who we are,” Greenebaum said. “Twice a month, we come together — Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Baha’i, humanist and seeker — to pray together, learn about each other, and celebrate our common humanity.”

In recognition of the week, several members of his group attended a mosque in Shoreline. “For a lot of people, it was their first time. It was a wonderful experience,” he said.

On Feb. 26, the church’s theme is “Remembering Lincoln — Greatness Does Not Mean Perfection.” Greenebaum said the topic arose when he read different sources about the 16th president. Some discredited Lincoln’s reputation, others portrayed Lincoln without flaws, he said.

He is troubled by what he sees as “airbrushed history,” and believes perfectionism is “spiritually destructive.”

“Humans make mistakes,” Greenebaum said.

He also said that Living Interfaith is different from a class in comparative religion. “The whole idea is less to learn intellectually about different religions and more to experience different spiritual paths,” he said.

“If your spiritual path helps you to be a more caring person, it’s working for you,” Greenebaum said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Living Interfaith

The Living Interfaith Church meets the second and fourth Sundays of each month in the Alderwood Middle School cafeteria, 20000 28th Ave. W., Lynnwood. Services are at 11 a.m. with a potluck lunch at noon. Information: www.livinginterfaith.org.

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