---- — It’s a partnership born of help needed and, perhaps, prayers answered.
When the growing Etz Hayim Synagogue needed a place to hold services more than 20 years ago, Derry’s Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration offered space in its Hood Road facility.
That was the beginning of a unique relationship that continues today.
When the Jewish congregation grew and needed a permanent space, the Episcopalian hosts offered to sell a piece of land so the two groups could continue their cooperation and friendship.
The synagogue opened in 2009, right next door to the church. Some affectionately refer to the interfaith campus as a “churchagogue.”
It’s a unique relationship and one that has served both congregations and the greater community well.
It’s a partnership that has explored religious connections few likely have experienced and also fostered concern for those beyond the religious houses.
Back in 2007, the two congregations joined together for a Bible study. Today, the two groups host Elijah’s Table, free meals for anyone who’s hungry for a warm dinner or friendship. The dinners are held twice a month, alternating between the church and the synagogue.
They also published a cookbook, “Recipes to Remember: Elijah’s Table,” the sales of which support the free community dinners. The book is a reflection of the relationship, featuring hundreds of recipes for everything from Christmas pudding to Kosher for Passover tiramisu.
They host a combined Thanksgiving service the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and support one another by attending fundraisers and other events.
Earlier this month, a granite sign was dedicated at the corner of Hood Road and East Broadway. It announces Derry’s unique interfaith campus to all who pass by.
It’s a sign to be proud of. Congregation officials said theirs is one of a very few such campuses in the United States.
It’s an example so many would do well to follow — religious congregations, neighbors, political groups and municipal boards.
One has to believe each congregation is the better for the partnership; surely, the community is, too.
Rick Cagle, Transfiguration’s senior warden, summed it up well, “We have more in common than we have differences.”