The Council of Bishops recently sponsored Rev. Jessica Lowe, a young adult from Louisiana, to participate in the UMEIT: Plunge
Jessica shares this brief reflection on her experience:
This past November, I spent two weeks in Indonesia conducting an immersive, Interfaith pilgrimage.
For part of this trip, I stayed at an Islamic boarding school in the remote mountain village of Tawangmangu.
I participated in all the activities and prayer rituals with the students.
I wore a hijab anytime I was outside of my bedroom and covered my arms and legs with long shirts and long pants.
I was taught how to perform salat, praying with one’s whole body and mind using movements of bowing, kneeling, and standing.
The girls in the school were excited to show me how to follow along and welcomed my participation in their prayers five times a day.
I experienced profound hospitality during my time in Indonesia, especially from Muslims who were very willing to share their religious traditions with me.
When asked why I wanted to come and learn more about Islam from them, I explained how, living in the south in the US, often I hear my congregants expressing fear of people who practice Islam.
I expressed how I wanted to come and immerse myself in their culture and religious practices so that I could return home and offer a different perspective.
The perspective I gained is that Islam is a peaceful religion, with many of the same tenants and values that we also hold as Christians.
Just as we struggle with extremists within Christianity who take the scriptures and interpret them for their own purposes that ultimately harm others, this also happens within Islam and Judaism as well.
But those few do not speak for the whole, and I am grateful to have encountered so many loving, kind, and open-minded people while there who can help counter the narrative of fear we so often struggle with.
The United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training (UMEIT) is a ministry of The United Methodist Council of Bishops Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships. It is offered in various forms around the world, but in this form, UMEIT USA, it is offered annually in conjunction with the NWCU. Its purpose is to gather together Methodists who are interested in ecumenical and interreligious ministry, to provide them with networking opportunities, and to train them in current trends and practical applications. It continually welcomes new participants in its fellowship, worship, study and conversation.