In less than a week, I will travel to Israel. It has been a goal of mine to make this trek for years. I have long imagined what it might be like to see the western wall, to walk the Via Dolorosa, to visit the Chirch of the Nativity, to behold the Dome of the Rock and to wade in the Jordan River. While there, I will get to see so these and so many other incredible sites that speak directly to the history of my faith and the faith traditions of people throughout the world. It is mind boggling to think of the faithful people who have walked those streets and alleyways before me. It is overwhelming to consider the millions of pilgrims from three different faith traditions who have made this journey and have been transformed along the way.
I go to not only experience these amazing places, but also to interact with wonderful people who call that land their home. I travel to discover what it might be like to develop an interfaith program for college students from Indianapolis who represent each of the three Abrahamic faith traditions. Is it possible to bring these students together for a year to learn about one another, discover the uniquenesses and commonalities of their faith traditions and dedicate themselves to discovering what it might mean to work together for the betterment of their world? Would it be possible to take this group of young scholars to Israel at the conclusion of their year of discovery to witness firsthand the difficulties and possibilities of interfaith work in a place each of the faiths hold as holy? Could it be that this group of young people could return home committed to hold on to that which is distinctive in their own faith tradition and be equally committed to working together because of these distinctives as well as our commonalities?
These are some of the questions that will shape my travels. I am convinced that we have a unique opportunity to discover something important, something transformative, not only for ourselves but also for our culture and the world in which we live.
If you are interested, you can follow my journey here on is blog. Please keep me and my traveling companions in your thoughts and prayers.
One last thing before I go. My father, grandfather and I had dreamt for years that we would take this journey together. I go carrying them with me in my heart and my mind. Their teachings and example have played a huge role in bringing me to this moment in my life. I love them both and celebrate the impact they have had on countless lives.
Rev. W. James Shivers and Jim Shivers, I may travel without you, but I do not travel alone! Thank you for all you have done for me.