The long term goal of SPIN is to see that a culture of engaged interfaith dialogue is prevalent in the St. Paul area.
By the term “engaged interfaith dialogue” we mean that there exists active engagement across religious lines, openness to religious differences, and interest in understanding other religious traditions, while remaining committed to one’s own and working together for the common good. We believe relationships across religious differences must involve mutual understanding, respect and honesty without requiring agreement or attempts to minimize differences.
In order to achieve this long term goal SPIN has chosen to work on the following intermediate term goals:
1. Members of congregations, faith communities and related people and organizations have increased contact with, are educated about and dialogue with people of other traditions.
2. Clergy and leaders of faith communities are familiar with religious pluralism, have acquaintances or friends from other traditions, and understand best practices for building bridges and leading congregations in a pluralistic context.
3. Youth are educated about and have experiences with various religious traditions so they can develop positive interfaith relationships.
4. More advanced, deeper interfaith and intra-faith conversations occur, including difficult dialogue across differences as well as theological and philosophical discussions.
5. Faith communities are active in making institutional changes to express positive religious pluralism.
SPIN developed out of the Interfaith Task Force of the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches and in 2005 began its first activity, monthly lunch meetings of clergy and lay leaders from various traditions, who gathered to hear and dialogue about one participant’s spiritual journey and interest/experience in interfaith relations. SPIN’s first public event was in the fall of 2006 when it sponsored a six-session evening series on “Use and Mis-use of Scriptures in Addressing Critical Current Issues.” Since then SPIN has continued the monthly mid-day dialogues, with a new focus on interfaith text study and dialogue, and held annual public dialogue series on various topic. Monthly open, evening dialogues, called “Interfaith Conversation Café,” are now offered in two locations, as well as annual interfaith Seder dinners and various cooperative Iftar (end of Ramadan) dinner events. More recently SPIN volunteers have led or assisted in the planning of interfaith dialogues, education and seminars in congregations and seminaries. A SPIN task force is working on initiatives for institutional change in congregations that will foster more positive interfaith relations.
SPIN is hosted by the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches (SPACC), which serves as its fiscal agent, and works cooperatively with SPACC’s Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition. SPIN participates in the Twin Cities Interfaith Network, a consultation/networking group for representatives of organizations doing interfaith relationship-building work, and is a member of the North American Interfaith Network.