ANNE CONSTABLE, PHOTO BY JANE PHILLIPS.

"The Santa Fe New Mexican."Santa Fe, N.M.: Sep 14, 2004.
St. Bede's and HaMakom hope alliance inspires deeper interfaith dialogue in S.F.

The square, cream and purple sign installed at St. Bede's Episcopal Church symbolizes a new, closer relationship between a Christian and a Jewish congregation in Santa Fe.

HaMakom (which means the place) has held its High Holy services at St. Bede's for two years. Now members meet for regular Saturday morning services at the church and the two congregations are discussing an array of joint events.

According to Rabbi Malka Drucker, St. Bede's rector, Richard Murphy, approached her congregation this year to say the church was doing some remodeling. He suggested that HaMakom put up its own sign on the church property, because, "We don't want you to be a footnote."

Drucker said she and Murphy "feel strongly this must be the message for the

21st century: Maintain tradition, not fear each other."

"He and I are really going to push to the pocket to see how close we can get and how it affects our communities," she added.

Murphy said, "I think, frankly, the future of organized religion more and more lies in interfaith dialogue and interfaith sharing. We spend too much time within ourselves. We need to engage more with other faiths."

HaMakom, which describes itself as a place for passionate and progressive Judaism, was founded in 2000 and has a membership of about

50 households. Drucker, who was ordained in 1998 from the Academy for Jewish Religion, a transdenominational seminary in New York City, said her congregation is

25 percent artists, 20 percent gay and 85 percent single. St. Bede's flies the rainbow flag indicating that it welcomes traditional and nontraditional families.

Since May, the congregation has been holding all its services in the library and common room at St. Bede's as well as in the sanctuary for High Holy services. Drucker said she knew of only one other such relationship, in Bethesda, Md., where a Presbyterian and a Jewish congregation share a remodeled facility.

Drucker asked Murphy to speak to her congregation Oct. 30 and to "bring his best teaching." She said she was looking for what he is "leaning on" now, "something close to his own heart and mind."

Drucker, who has invited St. Bede's members to all High Holy events, also is planning to talk to the St. Bede's congregation about anti-Semitism, particularly about what she sees as anti- Semitism surrounding the re-enactments of the passion of Christ.

Later this year or early next year, she said she would like to start an Abraham salon in Santa Fe. In many communities in the United States, Christians, Jews and Muslims gather to discuss their various Abrahamic traditions, using study materials developed by Bruce Feiler, author of the book, Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, published by Harper Collins.

According to Leslie Davis, president of the HaMakom board, Abraham is the forefather of the three monotheistic religions, but different interpretations of Abraham have "caused a lot of divisiveness" among the members of the faiths. The salons -- or trialogues -- are meant to find common ground.

Elsewhere, Drucker said, the salons have "helped communities to get to know each other." And what she likes about them is the possibility they will evolve into an ongoing discussion group. "This is not just a one-shot deal," she said.

The two congregations also are planning a service and potluck dinner on the Friday night following Thanksgiving.

Joking, the petite Drucker said, "I've always wanted to be an a Episcopalian. I'd be taller."

Davis said that as the relationship evolves, "It's much more than a place. It's an opportunity for growth, interdenominational worship, learning and education."

The alliance also gives HaMakom an opportunity to participate in St. Bede's social ministries. "We don't always have a critical mass to sustain such projects," Davis said.

Now, she added, "The sky is the limit."