All study groups are free and open to anyone. All welcome new members anytime.

Contact the facilitator below if you have interest in participating. For additional information about the Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum, please contact Jim Perlman, Study Group Coordinator at or visit

NEW STUDY GROUP in Fall 2014:

Into the Woods: Walden as a Spiritual Classic

Facilitator: Pastor Bruce Johnson,, 724-6084

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden has long been considered a classic of American literature, but it can also be read as a spiritual guidebook, one that deals with issues and questions that are as present and important to us as they were to Thoreau. Walden invites us to consider practices of simplicity and right livelihood, mindfulness and meditation, community and solitude. A pioneer in the field of environmental spirituality, Thoreau was also among the first to introduce ideas from eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism to the American public. We will take our time with Thoreau’s text, using it as a starting point for our own dialogue on “living deliberately.” Participants are invited to bring a personal journal, as well as a copy of Walden, which is readily available in libraries and inexpensive paperback. Please call 724-6084 to register, or if you have questions.

The group will meet at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth (835 West College Street), from 10:00 to 11:30 on six Friday mornings in the fall: September 12th and 26th; October 10th and 24th; and November 7th and 21st.

ONGOING STUDY GROUPS (always welcoming new members):

Interfaith Memoir Writing Group

Facilitator: Linda Glaser,

In this group we unearth our stories from our particular faith traditions. We explore aspects of “faith identity,” by writing stories about loved ones, food, holidays, ritual objects, traditions, etc. There is a relaxation exercise before each writing session to help us connect more deeply with our memories. Everyone is welcome. We all have stories to tell—stories that are unique and important. Through sharing our stories, we celebrate our differences, discover our deep commonalities, and create meaningful connections. Participants help determine how the group evolves. Please bring a pen and notebook with you. The group is limited to 10 participants (please email Linda to register), and meets at Temple Israel (1602 E. 2nd Street), every two weeks, beginning Wednesday, October 22, from 7-8:30pm.

Torah Study

Facilitator: Rabbi David Steinberg, 724-8857
This group is a part of the regularly scheduled Hebrew Bible study held every Shabbat morning at Temple Israel. Rabbi David leads an interactive reading and in-depth discussion of the text of the Parshat Hashavua (“weekly [Torah] portion”) and encourages participants to read their own stories, experiences, wisdom, questions and struggles into these texts. We read the text in English but frequently consult the original Hebrew language of the text, although knowledge of Hebrew is not required. The study takes place at Temple Israel (1602 E. 2nd Street) in the Communal Hall on Saturdays from 9:15-10am.

Religion & Science in Dialogue
Facilitator: David Carlson,

Relating these two realms of meaning is the focus of this discussion group, led by David Carlson, pastor of Gloria Dei. To borrow some terms from Ian Barbour, a pioneer in this interdisciplinary field, are science and religion enemies, strangers, or partners? How might a person be faithful and at the same time take scientific methods, theories, and findings seriously? How might questions raised by the scientific community impact faith? The purpose of this discussion is to honor the value and integrity of both religion and science and seek a constructive dialogue to which all are welcome. We meet at Valentini’s (1400 London Road), the third Wednesday of the month from 8:00-9:00 a.m.


Evangelical, Orthodox & Progressive Christians in Dialogue

Facilitator: Doug Bowen-Bailey, 722-7166

This group includes members from congregations from a variety of denominations and traditions. Theological topics and social issues are discussed by the group on an agreed-upon basis (and nothing is off-limits.) Members of the group rotate the responsibility of providing an opening meditation and then the free-ranging discussion begins. The monthly meetings are hosted at members’ congregations and scheduled according to member availability. Please contact the facilitator for more information. We meet the third Thursday of each month at 1 p.m, but are open to adjusting our time to facilitate including other people in our discussions.

Fiction Group
Facilitator: David Bard,

“Through the imagination we are able to develop our ability to see the full humanness of people” – Martha Nussbaum. Our energetic and diverse group seeks to see more deeply into the humanness of others, especially the religious humanness of others, by engaging works of fiction written by and about people from a variety of cultural and religious traditions. We meet monthly over coffee (tea if you prefer) to discuss our reading (typically a novel a month). New members are always welcome. Please contact facilitator for dates of scheduled meetings. Our next meeting will be Monday, September 22nd, 10:00 am at Jefferson’s People’s House (15th Ave. E. and Jefferson St.). The book under consideration for that day will be American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar.

Interfaith Women in Action

Facilitator: Judy Gordon,,724-4145

This is a group of women presently including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Unitarian Universalists who plan and put on a yearly Interfaith Peace Feast open to the public. This dinner features interfaith dialogue and raises money for Men as Peacemakers. The group gathers at least monthly, mostly in homes. They do service projects together such as serving at Project Homeless Connect and cooking meals for teens living in the LSS Renaissance House. Their discussions focus on planning and developing the projects they are involved in and getting to know each other as friends. Their slogan is “Celebrate Diversity, Promote Equality, and Live in Harmony.” Please contact Judy Gordon for the monthly meeting schedule.

The Lakeside Conversation Group

Facilitator: Martha Coltvet, 218-206-1249,

The Lakeside Interfaith Discussion Group will begin meeting again at Lakeside Presbyterian Church (4430 McCullough Street—park on 45th Avenue East) from 10:00 am – 11:30 a.m., usually on Mondays. We weekly, taking big breaks around winter holidays and around Easter/Passover. Please contact Martha for the first meeting date this fall.

The Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum promotes understanding, respect, and peace among the diverse religious communities of our region through sustained cross-cultural discussion, shared study, and collaborative projects and events. The Interreligious Forum is made possible by the generous support of the Oreck-Alpern family, the Overman Trust, and other donations to the College of St. Scholastica.