Why This Magazine Exists
June 1, 1937: The State of Maryland charters Greenbelt, a planned community built by the United States government that is based on the principle of social and economic cooperation.
September 30, 1937: The first families move into Greenbelt. They have been carefully selected to provide religious diversity in the town.
November 14, 1937: "Cooperative" religion reaches Greenbelt: the town's Protestants unite to form an interdenominational Community Church.
November 24, 1937: Greenbelters begin publishing a newspaper, The Cooperator, which regularly prints articles about the town's religious life.
February 23, 1938: The town's Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and Protestants form an Inter-faith Committee in order to discuss matters of "brotherhood and social action."
June 1, 1939: The Cooperator reports that the clergy from Greenbelt's four religious communities have organized a Permanent Conference on Religious Life in Greenbelt. "Its purpose," say the clergy, "is to foster a genuine inter-faith understanding and to build a unified religious approach to the problems common to all faiths. Each congregation has held, or will hold, at least one ‘open-house' service, to which all the others are invited. In this way the members of every faith will know, from first-hand observation, what the other religions are trying to accomplish. But the conference is to be more than a patronizing ‘mutual admiration society'. We are forcibly reminded by the tragic crisis in world affairs that the welfare of each faith is bound up with the well-being of all religion. We plan to explore the broad ground of our common problems, our mutual ideals, and our fundamental unity of purpose."
RELIGION AND JOURNALISM IN GREENBELT
Since the town's early years, religion has played an integral role in Greenbelt life. Greenbelt has continued its tradition of religious cooperation, which has allowed Greenbelters – even those who do not belong to a religious community – the opportunity to get to know each other's faiths.
This opportunity has been widened by an equally strong tradition of community journalism. In the first issue of The Cooperator (later renamed the Greenbelt News Review), Greenbelt's journalists listed eight standards which they hoped to uphold: "1. To serve as a non-profit enterprise. 2. To remain non-partisan in politics. 3. To remain neutral in religious matters. 4. To print news accurately and regularly. 5. To make its pages an open forum for civic affairs. 6. To develop a staff of volunteer writers. 7. To create a ‘Good Neighbor' spirit, promote friendship, advance the common good, and develop a ‘Greenbelt philosophy' of life."
If item number five is amended to read "religious affairs," this list stands as a good description of the standards by which this magazine hopes to abide. (See also our editorial policy.) Greenbelt Interfaith News hopes through these standards to offer balanced coverage of religious news that would be of interest to all Greenbelters.
This magazine will not provide information that would be of interest only to members of a particular religious community. Nor will it provide information only on activities in which several religious communities take part, though of course such activities will be covered. Rather, this magazine is intended as a place where Greenbelters can get to know each other – a place where they can learn a little about each other's religious beliefs and practices.
Greenbelt Interfaith News therefore aims to fill a gap between the newsletters of Greenbelt's religious communities, which are aimed at a particular audience, and the Greenbelt News Review, which has more limited coverage of religious activities. This magazine, like the News Review, is intended for general readers, but it will take a closer look at Greenbelt's religious communities and at the world of religion.
IN THIS ISSUE
If this first issue succeeds in finding an audience, Greenbelt Interfaith News will be published every two months in February, April, June, August, October, and December. Each issue will contain religious news – local, national, and international – as well as a historical article, a note from the editor, a directory of religious communities and their regular services, notices of coming events (including special services), and one or more feature articles. Greenbelt Interfaith News covers the news of all religious faiths, but its feature articles may focus on particular faiths or denominations. This issue focusses on the Episcopal Church and on the local churches.
It often seems that the mainstream press is only willing to cover religious stories that are connected in some way with sex. Unfortunately, recent events in the Episcopal Church and its sister Anglican churches show that the issue of homosexuality continues to be a major source of disagreement for many Christians. Since the beginning of the year, over a dozen events have taken place revealing the differing ways in which individual Episcopalians and Anglicans regard the question of homosexuality and the Christian Church. The second of our two feature articles looks at why this controversy continues to rock the Episcopal Church.
Fortunately, the day-to-day activities of most religious communities are more often characterized by unity than by divisiveness. Our first feature article describes a major source of unity for Christians: the holy day of Easter. This article was originally written during Easter 1996 but was never published. It is a little outdated now – several of the churches mentioned have had a change of clergy – but it should give an idea of the splendid variety of Greenbelt's religious life.
©1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson