For months prior to the upcoming public open house for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Washington D.C. Temple, “open houses” of a different sort have been happening across the District of Columbia. To prepare for their own temple open house, small groups of Latter-day Saints and their friends have visited the sacred sites of other faiths, hoping to learn and foster interreligious relationships.
The visits are part of the Reverse Open House Series—although “reciprocal” might be a better label. The series is headed by Diana Brown, a Latter-day Saint and Georgetown University’s assistant director for interreligious engagement, who came up with the idea as an end-of-fellowship project to enhance interfaith experiences and exchanges.
Since November 2021, the Reverse Open House Series has taken small groups to sacred places throughout the D.C. area for dialogues and various events while learning about different faiths — from touring a Catholic basilica to studying the Torah at an orthodox Jewish synagogue, and from sharing a meal with a Sikh congregation to ending a fast with the Bahá’í community.
The series has been received well — both by the group participants at the stops and tours, as well as the faith leaders and religious community members they’ve met. “What I’ve noticed is that the people we visit and the leaders that help organize these events seem flattered that others want to learn and care,” Brown said.
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