CHARLESTON—In a time when human understanding is more important than it has ever been, promoting harmonious relationships between people with different religious beliefs is a good place to start.
That’s the goal behind the annual observance of Interfaith Harmony Month held in January in South Carolina, established by a proclamation from Gov. Henry McMaster.
To that end, a series of statewide events — mostly virtual — to foster harmony between different denominations and faith groups is being offered by Interfaith Partners of South Carolina, a Columbia-based organization with membership of more than 300 individuals and faith groups in the state.
Sister Pamela Smith, of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, serves as director of the diocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and frequently takes part in Interfaith Partners’ events. She also works with the South Carolina Christian Action Council and other interfaith groups statewide to promote understanding of different beliefs.
“If someone asked me why interfaith harmony is important, I would tell them that ever since the Second Vatican Council, we have been encouraged by the church to build ecumenical relations among Christians and to find common ground and things we can share with people of other faiths,” she said. “We’re encouraged to step out, to share our faith with other people, to understand other faiths better, and hopefully find the common bonds that we have.”
Along with her duties in the diocese, Sister Pam spent much of 2020 working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other organizations on a book that discusses ways to combine ecumenical and interreligious efforts with environmental awareness. Sister Pam said she chaired the committee that worked on the book.
“The book is intended to be a continuation of topics raised in Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si,” Sister Pam said. “It includes theological and biblical perspectives and ideas about what interfaith and ecumenical groups can do to care for the environment.”
The “Ecumenical and Interreligious Guidebook: Care for Our Common Home” will launch with a webinar on Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to noon. To learn more about the book and the webinar, visit http://bit.ly/ecumenical-book-webinar. To learn more about Interfaith Harmony Month and virtual events, visit www.interfaithpartnersofsc.org/events.