Johns Creek UMC Welcomes Religious Leaders to Discuss Faith Traditions, Beliefs


Hindu neighbors visit Johns Creek UMC for "Join Together July" to share about their traditions and beliefs.

Last month, Johns Creek UMC welcomed Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu leaders to participate in "Join Together July," a special Sunday School session where neighbors from various religious communities were invited to share about their beliefs and traditions.

The guest speakers included Tareef Saeb of the Al-Rahmah Islamic Community Center, Rabbi Michael Bernstein of the Congregation Gesher L’Torah, and Sreeram Palla Reddy of the North American Shirdi Sai Temple of Atlanta.

Each year, the church uses the month of July as a time to focus on theological and social issues. The goal this year was to encourage the congregation to welcome the changing demographics of Johns Creek and form relationships across different faith communities.

“Who is our neighbor,” asked Dr. Dave Brewer, chairperson on the Committee on Religion and Race, during the introductory session of the five week study. “Anyone who God puts on our path.”

Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu leaders joined Johns Creek UMC pastors, offering a side by side comparison of their hopes and dreams; providing members with a new sense of commonality between The United Methodist Church and other religious communities.

“There is a tendency to be afraid and that’s often based on unfamiliarity. When we don’t seek relationships with people different from us, we cannot connect and that can cause fear,” Executive Pastor, Rev. Dr. Brandon Harris explains. “I wanted people to have an appreciation for the diversity in our community and see opportunities for connecting with our religious others.”

Harris ended the study with the same question that was asked in the beginning: “Who is our neighbor?” Participants were encouraged to meet their neighbors, form relationships with them, and to love them.

“Perfect love casts out fear,” he says, “and it's hard to fear someone you love.”

Those interested in this study can watch each session on Johns Creek United Methodist Church’s YouTube channel.