Exploring Atlanta’s Sacred Spaces

A Journey of Faith and Fellowship

By Jim Smith, Pastoral Care Associate

Our Travel Team plans times that are fun, educational and rich in fellowship and that can develop deeper relationships within our congregation.

In our day trips for 2024, we have toured some of the sacred spaces in Atlanta that reflect the faith traditions of those we encounter in the communities and neighborhoods where we live. Two destinations were chosen for this spring.

On March 21, 60 members of Smoke Rise toured the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, learning interesting facts about the history of Catholics in Georgia. These members heard about an outdoor worship held during the Spanish Flu Pandemic, a historic visit from Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and a firebombing that occurred in 1978. At that time, a nearby neighbor of the church was the Baptist Book Store.

Our second destination, in April, was the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Briarcliff area of Atlanta. Organized and founded in 1905, it was first home to a small group of Greek immigrants. Today, the Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of the Metropolis of Atlanta in the southeastern United States. Known for its rich background and extravagant interior and exterior decoration, it is also known for its humble immigrant beginning and the commitment to remain true to the Greek Orthodox faith and cultural traditions.

A third excursion, scheduled for the fall of 2024, is a visit to a Jewish Synagogue. (There are 38 synagogues in Atlanta today.) Two additional excursions, with tentative plans to visit a Muslim mosque and a Hindu temple, will complete the series.

Each setting can inform us about rich architecture and fascinating history. But more importantly, we will learn first-hand from our hosts and neighbors about their faith traditions and practices. Most of us can see from our front doors the homes of neighbors whose faith traditions are Jewish, Muslim and Hindu or Christian whose practices differ from those of our own Baptist roots. Our purpose is not to challenge their theologies or persuade them to our way of thinking, but rather to understand their traditions and practices so that we might show respect for their beliefs and be good neighbors to those of other faith traditions and practices around us.

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