Interfaith Forum: Building Bridges of Understanding

Interfaith Forum History

Interfaith Forum began in 1999 as Greenville Faith Communities United (GFCU). We are unique in the community in that we are composed not only of religious congregations, but also of faith based organizations as well as of individuals, businesses, and other community groups.

Interfaith Forum members come from a wide variety of traditions and denominations including Christian, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, Baha’i, Hindu, Unity, and Islam. Some of our members are actively involved within a faith community and we have a number of clergy members. Others are not formally a member of any congregation yet identify strongly with our interfaith mission and the vision of creating the beloved community.

Greenville continues to grow more and more diverse with a wide range of traditions now being practiced in our area. Since 2000, Interfaith Forum has held two World Religion Series at Greenville Tech. People from all religious backgrounds came to learn more about faiths different from their own. And it was clear from the questions following each presentation that there is a real thirst among many in our community for a greater dialogue and understanding of the beliefs and practices of the various religions of the world.

On January 21, 2001, Greenville Faith Communities United convened the first annual community wide observance celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In succeeding years we have continued with this observance. The services have been very well attended; and have included participation by over 1,000 people from the black and white community and representatives of many of our affiliated congregations, as well as individual GFCU members.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, Greenville Faith Communities United organized a citywide prayer service held in the area immediately adjacent to City Hall. Many clergy in the community attended and shared their thoughts.

In the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005, GRCU undertook its most ambitious program to date, a Festival of Faiths, which we saw as a way to help bring about needed community conversations among our increasingly diverse population. It served as an avenue in which people of all faiths were able to come together to learn and celebrate all that they have in common, instead of focusing on those ways in which they differ.

In 2006, GFCU embarked on a community-wide project to encourage living by the universal religious statement known as The Golden Rule, and a number of members of the board of trustees and former board members are trained in presenting Golden Rule Workshops. Workshops have been presented in several dozen settings, both public and corporate, and have been well received.

In 2007, GFCU went through a process of reviewing its goals and purpose in light of the realities of what was possible in relation to its name. At that time the general membership voted to adopt the name Interfaith Forum. Of the original goals of the organization only one was viable and universally embraced by the organization and that is the promotion of understanding, respect, and appreciation among people of various faith traditions. In support of that mission, Interfaith Forum settled on four permanent and annual activities and several periodic programs:

Annual:

  • Greenville Tech International Students Dinner Dialogue
  • Upstate's Interfaith Dinner Dialogue
  • Winter Interfaith Discussion/Presentation
  • Interfaith Day of Prayer

Periodic:

  • Golden Rule Workshops
  • Festival of Faith
  • Co-sponsorships of interfaith programs with other community organizations and faith communities.