Many Christians may recall growing up in an atmosphere where they were forbidden to step into a church of another denomination. One woman, who is now Catholic, recently shared that when she was a child she attended a Congregationalist Church. Both her Baptist grandmother and her Catholic best friend worried that she would not go to heaven because her parents were raising her in the wrong denomination.
Today’s Christians are more understanding and frequently seek out ways to learn more about their brothers and sisters in Christ. Others seek to learn about the root of Christianity — Judaism. Bible studies that focus on the Old Testament are popular and pastors often reference the original Hebrew when giving a message.
Opportunities abound on Marco to learn and interact with others in the community of faith. There is the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, Keeping Christ in Christmas, the Interfaith Education Series, the Annual Prayer Breakfast and the Easter Sunrise service on the beach. These opportunities are in addition to film and lecture series, concerts, teas, dinners and studies where all are welcome.
Marco also has its own Faith Club, a group that meets once a month to explore the differences and similarities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Today is the 20th annual Women’s Interfaith Gathering. No advertising is ever needed, as the gathering always sells out.
It began in 1993 when Lois Brater, a former United Church of Marco Island member, invited some women from various houses of worship to meet and share a slice of homemade bread. The Interfaith Gathering became a reality when several of those who attended the first one decided to promote and hold a second one in 1994.
“We come together with our talents and respect of each other to create the annual Interfaith Gathering,” said steering committee co-chair Judy Boston. “The spiritual experiences we share while working closely with each other are forever remembered in our hearts. When I hear another local church’s name mentioned I have a warm, affectionate sense about the people I know who go there.”
“As we visit local churches for these Interfaith Gatherings, we appreciate the women with the servant’s heart who greet us, prepare food and serve us. These church women know how to make everything nice and they do,” continued Boston.
The ideals of sharing, cooperating and gaining an understanding of the various faiths became their goal and focus.
Each year, the gathering meets at a different house of worship. Last year it was at the United Church of Marco Island, this year it’s at the Family Church — Marco, next year it will be at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island.
The format includes, a continental breakfast, welcoming remarks, prayer, and a musical interlude followed by a keynote speaker. Members of individual congregations are asked to stand and be recognized. This part always includes some cheering.
Past speakers have included Myra Shapiro, Naples Alliance for Children; the Rev. Alicia Raap who spoke on “Women as Agents for Tolerance and Change”; and the Rev. Lisa Lefkow, Habitat for Humanity. Last year Bonnie Bozzo portrayed the Old Testament heroine Esther.
This year the group chose a lighter venue with Larraine Olnowich’s delightful and inspirational “Shear Heaven.” Olnowich, a local singer, actress and a seasonal Marco Island resident is know for her secular shows “A Tribute to Patsy Cline” and “A Tribute to Rosemary Clooney.”
“It’s a message of love, hope, forgiveness and grace,” said Olnowich. The setting is a small town beauty shop called Shear Heaven where the bubbly owner Lauri dishes out beauty tips and offers help and encouragement. Her advice is colored with good humor, highlighted with songs about hope, grace, and forgiveness, and mixed with just the right blend of fun and faith. Lauri lifts hearts and inspires as she looks to God for help with everyday problems.
The Family Church — Naples Pastor Ben Sprankle, will provide music.
“We are all sisters in faith,” said host church member Shelby Scornavacci. Last year was the first time she attended and she is excited about volunteering this year.
The best part of the Gathering for steering committee co-chair Eileen Carlsen is the smiling faces and hugs.
“Those friendships don’t stop,” said Boston.
“That’s the nice thing about being on a small Island,” added steering committee member Rita Clark.
There are other opportunities to build bridges of love across denominational lines. The Clergy Associations’ Interfaith Education Series continues through March and the 29th nnnual Marco Island Prayer Breakfast is on Valentine’s Day. Tickets for the breakfast are available at the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce and most houses of worship.
Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various non-profits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist. Kathleen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marco Presbyterian Church
Women’s weekly, Friday, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Bible study, Beth Moore’s “The Patriarchs: Encountering the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” continues. Area women and their preschool children will delve into the concepts of blessing, covenant, and promise, and how they shaped the lives of Abraham, his descendants and today’s Christians. Study guides are available for $17 at the Bible study or the church office. Preschoolers will learn the same Biblical concepts through song and fun activities. There is no charge for children but pre-registration is required. Call the church office for information.
Grief Share with Seasonal Pastor, the Rev. Rod Whited, continues 10 a.m. every Monday.
“Praying Life” with the Rev. Rod Whited meets 10:30 a.m., Wednesdays.
The church will show the movie “Courageous” at 7 p.m., Feb. 10, free.
Fr. John Ineson’s Friday morning class continues 10 a.m., in the Willis Ministry Center’s Community Room. They are studying Marcus Borg’s “Embracing an Adult Faith, What it Means to be Christian.” Workbooks will be provided for the class. Please RSVP the church.
The Rev. Sue Price will celebrate Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. every morning in the Chapel through Lent. Information call Rev. Sue at (239) 331-4626.
Marco Lutheran Church
The Birds of Paradise Women’s Retreat, time for women and young ladies to connect with God and community, will be held 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Cape Marco Clubhouse. God designed women to soar, but they often choose to stay in their self-created cages. All are welcome to find courage to take flight with the support of other “birds of paradise.” There is a $10 registration fee (waived upon request). To register, contact Faith Rattei at email@example.com or call the church.
GriefShare, a Christ-centered support group for those who have lost a loved one through death continues 10 a.m. each Thursday. Sessions are proceeded by a time of fellowship and coffee at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at noon. For information call Joyce Waidelich at 793-4601 or Dory Catalano at 389-2363.
The Artist’s Series continues with Let’s Hang On, a Frankie Valli tribute show 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday. The show features ‘60s music with great harmonies and lively choreography. Tickets are $20. Call
of Marco Island
The 9:30 a.m. Torah study and 10 a.m. service begins continues every Saturday.
The JCMI Sisterhood and Men’s Club will host a Gourmet Italian Dinner with wine pairings Jan. 29. The evening begins with hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. Wine expert Ronald Kapon of New York City will explain the wine selections. The James Beard Foundation has honored Kapon for his educational contributions. Advance tickets are $35. Please contact the synagogue.
The adult education series “Contributions of the Jewish People to the World” continues 10 a.m., Feb. 5 with “The Role of the Jewish Faith in the Revolutions in the Middle East.” Nonmembers and guests for the Education series are $5. RSVP to the synagogue office.
The Jewish Film Festival will feature the “Berlin ’36”, 2 p.m., Feb. 12. The movie was inspired by the true story of Jewish high jumper Gretel Bergmann. Lox and bagels will be served before the film at 1:15 p.m. Tickets are $25.
The Saul Stern Cultural Series will feature the Naples Philharmonic Brass Quintet 7:30 p.m., Feb. 15. They will play classical and popular selections followed by pastries and coffee. Advance tickets: $25.
New Life Community Church of God
Women’s Tuesday evening weekly Bible Study, Beth Moore’s “Daniel, Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy” continues at 6:30 p.m. Session 2 begins 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21. Christians today face many of the same trials and temptations as the prophet Daniel — pressures to compromise one’s faith in a hostile culture. The study shows how individuals can live with integrity in today’s self-absorbed society. The two, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., six-week sessions may be studied independently. Cost: $20.
Scholarships are available. Call the church office for information.
Interfaith Community Adult Education Series: The Rev. Richard Adair will discuss Congregational Christianity 7 p.m., Feb. 1 at the United Church of Marco Island. The Rev. Rita Partin will discuss the Interdenominational Church, 7 p.m., Feb. 8, at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island
The Family Church
— Marco Island
Women’s Thursday morning, 9 to 11 a.m., weekly Bible study, Beth Moore’s “David, Seeking a Heart Like His” continues. Thursday. The 11-week study is for anyone who has ever experienced doubts, temptations, losses, family problems, or personal inconsistencies. Study guides are $20 and are available upon registration. Contact Judy Boston at 393-3495 or Pat Hagedorn at 394-4567 to pre- register. Bring a Bible and pencil to class.
CCW’s annual “This ’n That” and bake sale, 9 a.m. to noon, Feb. 4 in the parish hall. Donations are accepted, but no clothing, furniture or computer equipment. Call Susie Walsh at 389-9755 for details.
St. Leo’s Parish Life and Education Center in Bonita Springs: Speaker and New York Times best-selling author, Matthew Kelly will speak on the relevance of Catholicism, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 9. Over the past decade, Kelly has spoken to more than 3 million people in 50 countries. In his talk, “Is Catholicism Still Relevant?” Kelly will dispel many widespread myths surrounding the practice and rejection of Catholicism. His presentation is based on his book, “Rediscovering Catholicism.” The doors open for networking at 6:15 p.m. Wine, beer and light snacks will be served. Those attending are encouraged to eat dinner before they arrive. The cost to attend is $15 per person; registration and pre-payment is required. To register or for more information, go to www.faithandwine.com/speaker Feb. 9.
of Marco Island
The annual Bargain Basket Fashion Show and luncheon will be held noon, Feb. 16 in the church’s Dissler Hall. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Tastebuds of Naples will cater the lunch. Tickets for the event are $25 and may be purchased in advance at the Bargain Basket, 750 Bald Eagle Drive or
by calling (239) 394-6640.