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Women reaffirm their faith through religious discussion
Lanier Villages Estates' Women's Club talk about 'The Faith Club' book
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Rachel Glazer, from left, Asden Johnson, Paula Newkirk and Judy Dodge lead a discussion of the book “The Faith Club” at the Lanier Village Estates chapel Wednesday. The book focuses on three women — a Christian, Muslim and Jew — dealing with their faith following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Glazer, Johnson and Newkirk assumed the roles of the women in a re-enactment. - photo by Kristen Oliver

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, three women of different faiths found themselves wondering what to teach their children about the tragedy.

The three women — Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner — put pen to paper about their decisions in a book. “The Faith Club” tells how a Muslim, a Christian and a Jewish woman strengthened their faiths in the search for interfaith understanding.

A re-enactment of the three authors’ journey along with a discussion was the main topic at The Lanier Village Estates Women’s Club meeting Wednesday.

“These Faith Club meetings came about right after 9/11, when they decided to get together on a regular basis and try and write a book for children that would take some of their fears away,” said Ruth Parsons, head of the women’s club. “However, in the midst of trying to get this book written, they found that they first had to settle the differences that they had between their religions.”

Lanier Village Estates Chaplain Richard Evans said the re-enactment was an introduction to small group sessions that will study the book beginning Oct. 22.

“The purpose of today’s program is to introduce and showcase this study,” Evans said. “The heart of today’s program is a dialogue between three women ... one a Muslim, another a Jew and the third a Christian. The program is a brief conversation between these three women as they share with each other their personal faith journey.”

Women’s club member Judy Dodge will lead the small group sessions. She said toward the end of the eight-week sessions she will encourage members to make their own Faith Club.

“All this began with a class that Ruth and I were in, a memoirs class that we have here,” Dodge said. “I had written a paper on ‘The Faith Club’ and what it meant to me. This book has always meant so much to me and in a lot of ways I feel like it really has changed my life.”

Dodge lead the dialogue Wednesday, which was adapted from a script in the book. The three authors were portrayed by local women, Paula Newkirk, Asden Johnson and Rachel Glazer.

Dodge began by asking the “authors” how their club helped them strengthen their faith in their respective religions.

“That is the most surprising and fulfilling part for me, to have found my religion as an American and as a Muslim,” said Paula Newkirk, portraying the author Ranya Idliby. “I started off with doubt and insecurity about Islam, and ended up as a more committed and confident Muslim.”

Rachel Glazer, portraying Priscilla Warner, said her character was always proud to be Jewish, but was even more so after her discussions with the other two women.

The faith club allowed Suzanne Oliver to find truth in her Christian faith as well as in Judaism and Islam.

“My new understanding, which is easily accommodated in the Episcopal faith, enabled me to see that there is truth within Judaism and Islam, without feeling threatened by that recognition,” said Asden Johnson, who portrayed Oliver.

Dodge said she believes the book helps people think about the similarities among the different faiths instead of “constantly thinking about the differences.”

She said she hoped the re-enactment and upcoming small group sessions will spark people’s interest in other faiths and better understanding of the similarities among them.

“I will give them the opportunity to form a faith club and know how it works,” Dodge said. “If they want to form it they can, and I will help them get started.”

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