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Wayzata Community Church High School Class Spend a Year Focused on Religious Pluralism

January 31, 2011

By Nan Peterson
Hopkins, Minnesota

Just west of the Twin-Cities freshmen and sophomore students study their own personal faith identity and are grounded in their own developing faith through study and engagement with other religions. At Wayzata Community Church – in Minnesota, in which I have introduced    Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Six Billion Paths to Peace, students learn about their faith and the faiths of others in a place where everyone is accepted and the uniqueness of every individual celebrated. As juniors, the youth spend the year learning about service through reflection and action. As seniors the students consider religious pluralism- to better understand and respect the traditions and wisdom of their neighbors. Throughout the last year the class has spent weekends studying other faiths and reflecting on challenging theological questions:

How are these beliefs and practices similar to our own? How are they different? In what ways are we all one? How is my faith changed/deepened by connection with other traditions? Students and class deans have studied conservative Catholicism, moderate Judaism, and Islam.

In addition to attending services at the Wayzata Community Church students have visited The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, The Bet Shalom Jewish Congregation in Minnetonka, and the Islamic center of Minnesota. On each occasion, the participants held thoughtful discussions regarding interconnectedness, peace within the self and with others.  These interfaith experiences have deepened respect, acceptance, compassion, and wisdom among the youth.

To learn more about the Wayzata Community Church and their youth programs, please visit

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