What is Interfaith Ministry
Recent studies have estimated that nearly 40 million Americans are religiously unaffiliated and seeking alternative modes of spiritual experience and expression. Interfaith ministers are uniquely prepared to minister to the spiritual needs of this growing population, as well as to those with a strong religious affiliation who want to learn about, and come to appreciate, the wisdom of other traditions.
Whatever their own religious tradition or spiritual path, Interfaith ministers are trained professionals who:
- Are dedicated to serving the spiritual needs of all those who seek their guidance, counsel, and assistance, without regard to race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identification, ethnic background, gender or age; and without any attempt to proselytize or impose their own spiritual or religious worldview on others.
- Have chosen to learn about, respect, and appreciate the diversity of paths to the Divine, to honor the particular contributions of each to humanity’s heritage of spiritual wisdom, and to look for the universal truth in each one.
- Seek to promote understanding, harmony, and love among people by emphasizing what is universal in the teachings of the many spiritual paths and faith traditions.
- Are committed to the ongoing deepening of their own spiritual practice and connection to the Divine, so that their service to others is always grounded in the integrity of their own spiritual life.
Interfaith ministry, like all true ministry, must be a living expression of our deepest spiritual values. At its essence, true ministry is as much about who we are as human beings as it is about what we do in our professional lives. We agree with St. Francis who observed, “There’s no use walking anywhere to preach if your walking isn’t your preaching.” Our Seminary training therefore focuses on individual spiritual formation and maturation as well as providing a strong foundation in understanding the world’s major religious traditions and in the practical dimensions of professional ministry.
Our graduates express their ministries in a wide variety of ways, both formal and informal. These include pastoring independent congregations, serving on the educational and pastoral staffs of mainstream congregations, working with interfaith and unaffiliated couples and families to create meaningful life-cycle ceremonies and rituals, offering spiritual direction, providing hospice and other types of chaplaincy, creating educational programs to increase literacy about the world’s religions, coordinating and participating in interfaith initiatives, dialogue, and celebrations in their local communities, initiating and engaging in social justice and earth justice programs and projects, and more.
One Spirit Interfaith Seminary (OSIS), a leading voice in Interfaith ministry education, was founded on the belief that prejudice and intolerance often result from a lack of understanding that all spiritual traditions are, at their core, committed to the values of peace, tolerance, compassionate service, and love for the whole family of creation. Beneath the diversity of different, even at times contradictory, theological beliefs, rites, and observances lies a deeper unity of experience. And while there is great value in learning about what others believe about the Divine, it is only on this deeper ground of how we experience the Divine that we can meet, recognize, and embrace one another as brothers and sisters. Opening our hearts and minds to understand other people and religions at this deeper level of experience is central to our vision of Interfaith education.
Our training program is guided by the Interfaith philosophy of celebrating unity within diversity. In this time of increasing religious pluralism, Interfaith ministers can serve as companions and guides in helping people to deepen or reclaim the nourishment of their own religious roots while opening their hearts to the wisdom and beauty of other traditions and teachings. Our central mission is to support people in developing an authentic spirituality in their own lives, a spirituality that will enable them to live as ethical, compassionate, loving men and women in their daily lives and immediate communities. Such people, we believe, become a powerful force for healing the global community as well.