Oshkosh faith communities will share traditions

November 22, 2010

The Reverend Thomas C. Wiladsen

This year "organized religion" has been in the news locally and nationally. In August we heard about the controversy around the construction of an Islamic cultural center in Manhattan. In September our airwaves were filled with reports of a plan by a clergyman to burn copies of the Qur'an. Locally our city council voted unanimously this month to permit the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to use a westside building as a worship space and community center.  I hope on November 24 organized religion can once again be newsworthy...and praise-worthy. The Interfaith Festival of Gratitude is planned that evening at 7 p.m. at the Grand Opera House, 100 High Avenue in downtown Oshkosh. Representatives of eight faith traditions will take the stage and share something about gratitude. Everyone is welcome.
To put what is planned into terms that members of my faith tradition, the Presbyterian Church (USA.) can understand, the festival will be like a religious potluck. The various traditions will offer a sample of who they are and what they do. Everyone is welcome. Are you curious about Buddhism? Do you want to know more about your Islamic neighbors? Here is a chance to learn about what your neighbors do and believe. Each tradition will bring something to the stage at the Grand for the community to sample.
Given the theme of gratitude, I want to express my gratitude to the benefactor who is covering the use of the Grand Opera House and the Oshkosh Rotary Club for covering the cost of printing the festival bulletin.
By the way, the Grand looks fabulous! Perhaps you have not gotten a chance to attend an event there since it reopened. We are so fortunate to have a public place where people of all faiths can gather to learn about one another. There is no charge for admission.
So come on down to the Grand on November 24 and get a flavor of the rich variety of religious traditions in Oshkosh. Everyone is welcome!

Northwestern Community Columnist the Rev. Thomas C. Willadsen is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Oshkosh. He has lived in Oshkosh since 1999. This article appeared in the Oshkosh Northwestern November 22, 2010.