DURHAM, N.C. – A Jewish congregation in Durham has returned to its synagogue after worshiping for more than a year at a local Presbyterian Church. Last year, members of Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church offered to house the Beth El congregation while their building underwent renovations.
The congregations worked together to pack lunches for needy Durham schoolchildren, and co-hosted a fall festival with proceeds that included a gift to a local mosque. Rabbi Daniel Greyber of Beth El Synagogue said the experience was reaffirming in an era of American polarization.
“One significant thing that happened while we were at Trinity was the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh,” Greyber said. “Experiencing that as a synagogue that was having its services in a church was enormously powerful and meaningful.”
Trinity church sits just blocks away from Beth El Synagogue, and both faith communities are longtime residents of one of Durham’s oldest neighborhoods.
Reverend Katie Crowe, senior pastor at Trinity, said both congregations learned from each other. And she pointed out there are many interfaith communities in North Carolina who are dissolving boundaries.
“There were a batch of amazing young people that hosted their bar and bat mitzvahs in a sanctuary with a cross, and were invited to interpret this symbol for their community as a symbol of love and a testament to the responsiveness of a community of people that seek to be faithful when God shows up in the world and in their lives,” Crowe said.
Nearly half of North Carolina’s population adheres to a particular religion, and more than 1.5 million say they are Southern Baptists, according to the University of North Carolina’s Population Center.