- Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein
In announcing this new venture, we have had many questions. Our most frequent is Why? Why another organization? Why is it called By The Rivers? Why create it now? What do you hope to achieve?
All good questions. Allow me to answer them.
By The Rivers is a multi-faith learning and lifecycle center that will work to connect individuals more deeply to their religious tradition and spiritual selves. We recognize that religious institutions do not function in the same way as they did for our parents and grandparents. Modern technology has increased our ability to connect with others, but this does not automatically mean meaningful connections.
We provide unique learning opportunities, taught by clergy and master teachers from many faiths, to help you learn about your tradition, as well as others. Our goal is not a particular belief or membership in a group; but helping you develop the skills to ask deep and important questions. We are here to help you connect.
In addition, our clergy affiliates can help you celebrate joyous events, and mark important transitions in your life. We facilitate creative, meaningful, and authentic ceremonies. In addition, our staff can provide premarital, relationship, and spiritual counseling. We are here to celebrate and support you.
We are Not
We are not about proselytizing or recruiting. Our clergy and teachers are here to help you explore, not to convince you to join them. There is no group to join or membership to pay.
WHO ARE THE "NONES?"
The world is changing. According to the most recent Pew Research Study, titled “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” between the years 2007 and 2014, the number of mainline Christians, Catholics and Jews has decreased, while the unaffiliated as a group has grown from 16.1% to 22.8%. Among Millenials, the number is 35%. These unaffiliated, also known as “Nones,” are comprised of atheists, agnostics and individuals who consider themselves spiritual, but who do not wish to join or to return to a religious institution. Many have grown tired of the “plop, pray and pay” routine. In addition to the growing number of of people who say they are unaffiliated, there is also an increase in interfaith couples and marriages. In addition, 40% of all marriages in the U.S. are interfaith. Many unaffiliated show a strong desire to understand other faiths and cultures within their own family, community and worldwide.
By The Rivers wants to present a new paradigm, life cycle events and learning, without the need to join a religious institution. We meet you where you are, in a supportive, welcoming environment. Services and classes are a la carte. No proselytizing. We have clergy from all faiths to help you with a life cycle event and who teach classes on a wide variety of subjects.
Why The Name?
By The Rivers is deeply rooted in the Twin Cites, and the rivers that surround us. It brings to mind the image of water; as a life-giving force and as a symbol of spiritual wisdom. It also represents the spiritual journey and the inevitable, ever changing nature of our lives. It shows us surprises around every bend, and challenges our understanding of history and the environment. The dynamic nature of flowing water and the hidden possibilities of the depths to be explored inspires our work with the Center.
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