In 1985 there was an ecumenical ministerial group of Christians in the San Dieguito area when a new Rabbi, Lenore Bohm arrived in Encinitas. It seemed natural for me as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church & Father Paul Camm of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church to invite the new Rabbi into our ecumenical circle to become an interfaith group. The Catholic Deacon and others agreed, but some resisted. It happened and local history in faith relations was made. Through my close personal friendship with Brother Anilananda at the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF), he was introduced to our new San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association (SDIMA). For the first time, SRF became involved in the local wider faith community. This began the process of welcoming new religious movements and other expressions of spirituality into the group. Ministers were defined as anyone who served in any of the member organizations.
Our early goals included dialogue between faiths, service to the local community, and witnessing to our common faith values in community, national and global issues. This led to the early support of the migrant farm workers and undocumented workers in North County, support of the Community Resource Center, chaplaincy support for Scripps Memorial Encinitas Hospital, and initiating an annual Encinitas Mayor’s Interfaith Prayer Breakfast on the National Day of Prayer.
The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast and the Thanksgiving Eve Community Service are annual interfaith events which continue to reach out to the San Dieguito community as an interfaith witness of respect, tolerance and acceptance of all forms of religious and spiritual expression. As new religious movements and non-historic spiritual groups have increased in our San Dieguito community, it is rewarding to see the wider involvement of groups that represent our common human search for a religious or spiritual path and opportunities for serving others in need.
SDIMA is a vision which became a reality and continues to be a strong witness to the original goals of 30 years ago.
It was exciting (and a big responsibility) to be the first woman Rabbi to serve in San Diego County in 1982 and then to be asked to serve as the solo Rabbi of a young, dynamic congregation in Encinitas, Temple Solel, in 1985. I was surprised to learn that the local "San Dieguito Ecumenical Ministerial Association" consisted entirely of Christian members. Several of the pastors, including Bill Harman, warmly welcomed me to join, and the name was soon changed to "San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association" to reflect the greater diversity of participants. Bill and I organized the first Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve Service in 1987 and it became an annual tradition, appreciated by many in our community. It is with great fondness that I remember those early years of growing inclusion and mutual respect among a variety of religious traditions here in coastal North County.