Pastor seeks spiritual diversity as a path to harmony
Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW
Steven Greenebaum, of Lynnwood, started Living Interfaith Church a few years ago. People of all faiths visit his church and talk about traditions and holidays from different religions. Along his stole, which he wears for church services, are symbols of six of humanity’s many spiritual paths represented by Interfaith. The symbols represent (clockwise from bottom-left) Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism and Hinduism.
If you’re the Rev. Steven Greenebaum, you meet it yourself.
Two years ago, Greenebaum started Living Interfaith Church in Lynnwood. The small congregation meets twice a month at Alderwood Middle School.
“I kept wanting to join a church like this, a spiritual community that warmly welcomes people of good will from all spiritual paths,” Greenebaum said. “You reach a point where you go, ‘Well, it hasn’t happened, so what are you going to do about it?’”
Greenebaum has been a Lynnwood resident for more than two decades. After attending the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry, he worked for an interfaith congregation in Ballard. There, he was ordained as an interfaith minister.
But something was missing.
“They didn’t approach interfaith as a faith,” Greenebaum said.
For Greenebaum, living interfaith means there are many “paths to the sacred,” and people should celebrate any religion that promotes respect and compassion.
“It’s not the religion you practice, it’s how you practice your religion,” Greenebaum said.
For instance, Greenebaum explains, his personal path is Jewish – but he embraces whatever spiritual path someone chooses if it guides “to a life of love and compassion.”
A typical Sunday morning service might include learning about and celebrating a holy day from a specific spiritual path, such as a Christian or Hindu holiday. Or the congregation may talk about a topic, such as peace, and how different paths promote peace in their own traditions.
He makes clear that the focus isn’t just tolerating others, it’s embracing others.
“There is no ‘them,’ there is only ‘us,’” Greenebaum said in a video introducing the church.
Greenebaum knows a thing or two about the concept of “interfaith as a faith,” seeing as he literally wrote the book on it.
The pastor recently toured across the United States and into Canada to promote his book, “The Interfaith Alternative: Embracing Spiritual Diversity.”
The volume was published this April and is already on its second printing.
Greenebaum has been writing and rewriting the book for decades, as his views and convictions evolved over the years. He said he’s glad it’s finally published but isn’t content now to just sit back.
“It’s one step in what I hope is an important direction,” he said.
Thinking about interfaith as a faith is fairly new, Greenebaum said.
“I’m hoping it will become a large movement because I think it is a way we can learn about each other and honor each other without coming to blows.”
The next meeting of the Living Interfaith Church is 11 a.m. Sept. 9 at Alderwood Middle School, 20000 28th Ave. W, Lynnwood, in the cafeteria. They are on break for the summer.
For resources, information and a link to Greenebaum’s book, go to www.livinginterfaith.org.