By Melissa Taylor
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY – Dozens of community members from different faiths recently embarked on an interfaith bus tour and learned about various places of worship.
The Feb. 24 tour included stops at the St. Ambrose Catholic Church, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Congregation Kol Ami. This is an annual event and tours different churches each year. The interfaith roundtable welcomes members of all faiths and belief systems.
All three stops on the tour included a presentation in which participants learned about the history, architecture, and religious practices of each church or synagogue.
At St. Ambrose, Rev. Andrzej Skrzypiec emphasized the beauty of the stained glass windows, which fade from cool to warm colors approaching the alter. Rev. Skrzypiec explained that this symbolizes the warmth of God’s love at the alter. Following Rev. Skrzypiec’s presentation, the group had the privilege to experience a different form of art, as a 6th grade student played two pieces on the church’s organ, which Rev. Skrzypiec said has about 2,800 pipes.
“The art expresses something . . . All the true art brings the realm of the spirit in,” Rev. Skrzypiec said.
At the next stop on the tour, Steve Klemz, pastor at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, explained that “evangelism” is Greek, and means “good news,” a term that many different faiths associate with their religion. Pastor Klemz said that the Lutheran belief system shares similar elements of faith with other religions.
“Somebody suggested we be named the reformed Lutheran Catholics, because that’s our roots . . . Our worship traditions are pretty much the same,” he said.
The tour concluded at Congregation Kol Ami, where participants learned about the synagogues’s history. Betty Yanowitz, a member of the congregation, explained that years ago, Salt Lake City had two smaller synagogues, one being a reformed liberal, and the other being formal conservative. The two congregations did not associate with one another, but had to merge together in the 1960s for financial reasons. Yanowitz compared the transition to an “intermarriage,” where traditions from both congregations have been merged into one.
Melissa L., a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been coming to interfaith activities for years. She said that she enjoys that the events bring people from different faiths together, and that there is beauty in the fact that religion is not a boundary between them.
“The more I’ve learned about other religions, the more in common I’ve found with people who, at the outset I thought were very different than I was,” Melissa said. “While there are still differences, and there always will be, there’s a lot more similarities in what we all believe than I think we realize.”