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Interfaith Spiritual Center:
Fostering Peace Among Religions and Cultures
by Cecilia Ranger, Karin Miles, and Ashley McCormack

In 1893 the Parliament of the World's Religions met in Chicago as part of the world's fair. It marked humanity's entry into the 20th century as well as the beginning of a global interfaith dialogue. For the first time in the history of humankind, people of different faiths came together in the name of progress and peace. In 1993, the second Parliament met to discuss the opportunities for peace in the 21st century. Today, that interfaith dialogue continues with such efforts as United Religions Initiative. As the turn of the millennium approaches, communities of different spiritual paths are coming together in peace, prayer, and service.

This vision — the potential for global peace inherent in interfaith dialogue — while huge in scope is being fostered in a small but important way in our own community. Evidence of this vision can be found at the Interfaith Spiritual Center in SE Portland founded last fall by Sr. Cecilia Ranger, S.N.J.M, Ph.D., Chair of Religion and Philosophy at Marylhurst University. Sr. Cecilia invited several people to join her in a long-held vision of creating a center where people interested in exploring their relationship with God or the sacred; those seeking movement toward a deeper spiritual life; and those seeking spiritual self-reliance, discernment, and a life of balance could be met by trained and compassionate individuals offering spiritual guidance through education and spiritual direction.

In November 1998, the Interfaith Spiritual Center opened its doors in the elegant 1914 Rectory of the Sacred Heart Parish in the Brooklyn District of SE Portland. Easy access and ample parking make the location ideal.

The concept of spiritual communities offering spiritual resources to others is not new. What is new is that the spiritual directors at the Interfaith Spiritual Center represent a number of different faith traditions and in turn offer services to practitioners from all traditions. The work of the center is to nurture each person's freedom to walk his or her own spiritual path, thereby fostering peace among religions and cultures. The center offers individual, family or group sessions with a trained spiritual director/mentor and retreats and workshops on spiritual life and practices of the major world religions.

Beginning in September, the ISC will offer a series entitled First Wednesdays, a series on East and West spiritual practices, on the first Wednesday night of each month at 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. The series, both educational and experiential, will begin with the ancient Christian tradition of Centering Prayer. The series is open to the public, and donations to the center will be accepted.

Those seeking spiritual consultation, direction or resource information are invited to call the Interfaith Spiritual Center at 503-233-2026. All ISC services and resources are provided on the basis of income and ability to pay.