Tag Archives: Interfaith

If Not, What’s the Point?

How we treat our critics is the clearest indication of our theology. From “If God is Love.”
Last Saturday two friends and I went to the Women’s March in Concord, NH. It was glorious, inspiring and heartwarming to see so many women, as well as men and children, with messages on signs as diverse as the people. Many issues, yet, one hope.

At one point, I noticed several women standing quietly with their signs on the outskirts of the crowd close to the street. From their signage, one saying ‘Pray to End Abortion,’ one could infer they were evangelical social conservatives. It gave me pause to see them there. Then, I knew clearly what I needed to do. Simply, welcome them.

So, I approached, extended my hand, smiled and introduced myself. “I’m Rev. Stephanie Rutt. I’m an interfaith minister and just wanted to say I’m glad you came today. I feel it is so important that women with all different points of view can stand together.”

The first woman remained silent but looked at me with what seemed a mix of surprise, slight suspicion and even a bit of fear. The next one I approached seemed genuinely glad and open. She smiled and I instantly felt we could have gone for a cup of tea. The last woman seemed slightly preoccupied with her cell phone but was courteous. Hummmmmm, I thought. Just like us. As the morning went on, I imagined how good it would have been if one of the speakers had acknowledged and welcomed them. If not, I thought, what’s the point?

I am not naïve. I am fully aware that, given the opportunity, many on the religious right would institute a theocracy based on their religious beliefs instead of supporting a democracy encouraging the freedom of expression of all religions. Yet, if we hunker down on our side of the line and portray them as the enemy, how is progress toward a one America, indeed a one humanity, ever to be made? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that someone has to be willing to stop the cycle of hate – and there is plenty of hate, prejudice and fear on both sides.

And so, I extended my hand, and heart, to my evangelical sisters with the prayer that, in doing so, we might just open some possibility of finding, together, that which we have in common – a fierce, passionate, uncompromising love for God.

And, for me, I’d let God take it from there.


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Open Letter to President-Elect Donald J. Trump

It is in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who have stood and continue to stand for the rights of others in fulfillment of our great American ideals that I send this letter.

Dear Mr. President-elect,
This is the first time I have written to a US President or President-elect. But, these are critical times. I am an interfaith minister serving a church in southern New Hampshire and have traditionally held strong liberal progressive views. But, my purpose here is not to further galvanize the political divide. To the contrary, I offer my hand across the great abyss dividing this country in hopes that, in doing so, we can begin to address the great challenge of our time: to affirm that beyond political, social and religious beliefs, we are, first and foremost, one America. I see this challenge etched in the very faces of our people, those diverse faces, strong, and committed to weaving together the multi-faceted strands that make us a democracy where there is truly liberty and justice for all.

Mr. Trump, you have been called to leadership at this critical time, as you have said, to “Make America great again.” Problem is from the raw grit of our great diversity arises differing visions of just what it means to be great. Those on the liberal left would say what is needed is a moral revolution in response to what has been called your egregious rhetoric and potentially dangerous policies threatening to roll back hard-won social progress here at home as well as advancements in multi-lateral climate change initiatives world-wide. While, in truth, I have felt the same, it may surprise you to hear that this is not what I would propagate at this time. Why? Because those on the conservative right, many of whom voted for you, would say the same – that what is needed is a moral revolution in response to damaging economic policies that have left so many behind, an elitist, unresponsive and ineffectual Washington bureaucracy, and a social agenda antithetical to biblical tradition. No, it is not helpful for either side to claim the moral authority to assert their vision of the truth fits all. Indeed, this is exactly what is creating the growing divide among us.

Instead of a moral ‘revolution,’ I believe what is needed is an ‘evolution’ of our national consciousness capable of raising us all up together. This requires a modern-day revival of the “All men are created equal” to include all the faces of our great America. Indeed, it challenges each of us to see the face of the laid off steel worker whose family has struggled so much, the disabled child who lives with Autism, the mother who lost her daughter to a drug overdose and yearns for greater border control, the Muslim who prays for peace, the policeman who risks his life every day for our safety, the African American who lives in constant fear of unchecked racism, the Christian who devoutly seeks to live out Christ’s Commandments, the gay man who searches for the courage to marry the one he loves, the waitress who cannot rise above her subsistence wage, the young girl who struggles to have her dreams as valued as her brother’s, the hard working immigrant who agonizes daily over possible deportation and separation from his children.

These are not political, social or religious ideologies. These are the very real faces of our brothers and sisters who have chosen, with us, to live in this great democracy where, together, we affirm all peoples are endowed by our great Creator “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” All peoples.

Mr. Trump, I pray you will accept this hand extended to you so that, together, we may work to create one America, one that celebrates and unites our many diverse faces. Indeed, as the one called to leadership at this critical time, I believe it is your charge and duty to do so. For it is only in this way that your hope, indeed the hope of all of us, can be realized: to, truly, make America great again.

Yours in Faith,
Rev. Stephanie Rutt


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There are many things that pierce my heart during this holy season. Early morning prayers in the dark in the middle of our Christmas lights. Heaven. That catch in my throat when I sing fall on your knees…in Oh Holy Night. Writing a note to that only-at-Christmas relative or friend far away. Finding, creating, that oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-wait-until-they-open-it gift for a loved one. Going on a mission for the completely unforeseen and unexpected gift for that dear one God has placed into my charge. Yes, there are so many tender, sweet moments.

But, nothing awakens me to love, sometimes even causing me to hide some sudden burst of emotion, like the sound of that Salvation Army jingle ringing out. There they are, my sister or brother in plain jeans and jacket, standing in the cold (for how long?) ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy in the beloved hymn, ”Do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy? A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea.”

Yes. I hear…humbled now, aching, busting, I do.

Said the night wind to the little lamb, “Do you see what I see?” Yes. I see now all the faces those anonymous coins and rolled bills will help to brighten on Christmas morning, every morning, making each face as bright as “that star dancing in the night.”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, “Do you know what I know?” And, suddenly, I do. Squeezing my crumpled bill into the small opening, I know that each and every coin and bill dropped into that red bucket will be magnified by our Beloved God a thousand-fold within the hearts of the ones receiving. Oh my, what more wondrous could possibly be known?

Thank you, ma’am.
Oh no, dear brother, sister…

Let’s thank that dancing star…”with a voice as big as the sea.”

Blessed Holidays Everyone!


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A Message From the Mayan Ruins

Over the Thanksgiving week Doug and I visited Belize in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary.  We chose Belize, in part, because we knew we could visit some Mayan ruins.  We were not disappointed.  On the last day of our most wonderful week, we loaded into a van with our smiling guide, Heartfield.  A born in Belize local, we were told he spoke five languages and possessed a lifelong wisdom of the Mayan ruins and culture.  After a two hour drive through the country side, where we passed many bikers on rusty bikes, walkers as well as more than one Amish horse and buggy, we finally arrived at the first site. 

Heartfield was a wealth of knowledge and told us many great stories.  But I was most taken with a kind of freedom I sensed in his soul I had also felt among many of the locals we had gotten to know a bit during our days there.  Can’t quite put my finger on it, or fully explain it, but it was this very sense that followed me home and still informs me in unexpected ways.  There was also a kindness, again that I sensed among many, as he would offer his hand to help some of us older and more challenged ones up the ruins.  “Don’t be afraid”, he would say softly.  “Give me your full weight.”  And, with Doug on one side and Heartfield on the other, up I went!  And, all the while Heartfield would be smiling, weaving in stories of daily life which occasionally included his family of seven children.  I found myself wondering if his home was one of the few that had indoor plumbing and tried to imagine what their evening time was like with all those children without the stimulation of technology or a variety of extra-curricular activities.

At the very end of our day’s tour of amazing beautiful sites, Heartfield’s tone and expression suddenly became more matter of fact.  He asked if we had heard of the Mayan prophecy predicting the end of days to occur on December 21, 2012.  We all acknowledged that we had and then he said, “Well, I want you to know that I have it on good authority that it’s all BS.  Do you know what BS stands for?”  We were all silent for a moment until someone said with a giggle, “Bull Sh…!”  Heartfield said, “NO!  It doesn’t”, suddenly quite animated.  It means, “Book sales!” and smiled with the brightest expression in his eyes.  He went on to say how newly discovered artifacts have shown the next millennium of time and that what is really going to happen on December 21, 2012 is that humankind will be given the great opportunity to experience the possibility to begin anew…

…to begin anew…of course!  Every ending is a beginning.  Every death a birth.  So, there you have it – on good authority from the soul of Heartfield straight from the heart of the Mayan ruins.  Delivered with a gleaming smile and a tender helping hand.  I came home sensing, a little more deeply, what it means to not need to know because somehow, right there in the ancient ruins, as well as right here at my computer, I can still feel the Grace of the Beloved lifting us all up, one step at a time, higher and higher, to a final magnificent place of rest touching the clouds…only then, to simply begin again, anew.

Thank you Heartfield.    


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As the Crow Flies – a Path Toward Interfaith Ordination

In my work as the Administrative Assistant for The Tree of Life School for Sacred Living, LLC, I do what I can to bring our ministry to the forefront of peoples’ minds. Through the School for Sacred Living, we offer spiritual classes, spiritual counseling and yoga classes to those in our community of So. NH/No. MA. Through the Tree of Life Interfaith Temple we offer monthly interfaith worship services as well as give back to our community with our time, talents and money. And perhaps the most exciting, world-changing thing we do is through our newly formed Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary Program. Titled “As the Crow Flies: Discover Your Direct Path to God,” graduates of this 2 year program are ordained as Interfaith Ministers – bestowed upon by The Tree of Life Interfaith Temple, a legally established non-denominational church in So. NH.

We are just wrapping up our 1st year of our 1st class of students and the response has been exceptional! Our minister, Rev. Stephanie Rutt, has created and directs our seminary students on a path of inner exploration to discover and cultivate one’s unique gifts in service to a greater good, exploration of the world’s major faith traditions, and training in ministerial duties and spiritual leadership.

It is truly an amazing program and unlike any other similarly natured program out there, as As the Crow Flies specifically focuses on one’s personal journey and the “how to’s” of getting in touch with yourself, the Divine Spirit, and your gifts and treasures.

To learn more – including upcoming dates for Informational Open Houses, or to download our program Handbook and/or Application Packet – please visit us at Tree of Life Interfaith Temple.

… Doing our part to help ourselves and others truly become a force for good!…

~ Amy

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