At the end of the final zazen session, two gongs signal the group to stand up, face each other, make three bows, and then chant the Four Vows. “Beings are numberless, I vow to free them…” The silence that has been maintained is now broken by the group’s friendly interchanges. They will be back on the black cushions next week.
Teachers of the Chosen
By Louis Lee
Rabbi David Cantor is part of the congregation B’nai Zion in Chattanooga. The words “part of” are carefully chosen, as Rabbis are not necessarily “leaders” in the synagogue. The word “rabbi” translates as “teacher.” As teachers, rabbis educate the congregation and verify that things are “kosher.” The rabbi is also responsible for interpreting the Torah and other holy books.
Jews trace their theological roots to Abraham. In the Hebrew Bible, God promises Abraham that he will be the father of a great nation. The bloodline that follows from Abraham means that Judaism is not merely a religion, but a birthright. One can be a non-practicing Jew, or even an atheist, but will always be a Jew by heritage.
Services are held Tuesdays and Fridays with Sabbath service on Saturday. These include the singing of prayers, reading from the Torah and personal prayer time. The Torah is central in the Jewish service, not only because it is their holy text, but the Torah itself is special. Each one is hand-lettered by a scribe on parchment (animal skin). It is a continuous scroll that is covered and decorated and kept in an ark. A special pointer is used when reading the Torah to keep it undamaged.
Other Jewish congregations in Chattanooga include Mizpah Congregation and the Beth Shalom Congregation.
By Mike Chambers
Alvin Cummings, Pastor of Lookout Mountain Missionary Baptist, is a lay minister who says he was “called” to the ministry. A carpet-industry manager by day, the Ringgold resident was received by unanimous consent to take over the pastorship of the Lookout Mountain church back in 2003.
The former pastor of a East Ridge congregation, Rev. Cummings believes firmly in principles of the Baptist faith, which emphasizes saving one soul at time. At the same time, he’s also a believer in spreading the word of Jesus Christ as the savior of all mankind not only locally, but also across the country and around the world.
And as the name implies, the Baptist faith is centered in the act of baptism itself, believing that baptism should be performed only for professing believers, as opposed to infant baptism as performed in other faiths and Christian sects.
The specific Protestant faith, as practiced by Rev. Cummings and his congregation, dates back to Amsterdam around 1609, from where it quickly spread to England and then, through several “great awakenings” to the United States in the mid-18th and early-19th centuries. It has become one of the dominant faiths in the country, especially in the South.
Shoes of the Fisherman
By Louis Lee
Reverend Father James Vick is the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (OLPH) in Chattanooga. The Catholic Church is widely accepted as the first Christian church, founded by the Apostles Peter and Paul shortly after the death of Jesus Christ.
Catholics enjoy an active religious life, with services called masses available to them every day of the year, if they wish. The primary day of worship is Sunday. The Catholic Church in Chattanooga has reached out to a growing population of Hispanic immigrants, At OLPH, each day there is also a mass conducted entirely in Spanish. Bible study is also available for the Hispanic community in their native tongue.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church includes priests, bishops, cardinals and the pope. After Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI was elected by the College of the Cardinals to succeed him. The pope is the head of the Catholic Church and, according to church doctrine, the direct successor of Saint Peter.
Masses in the Catholic Church include the singing of hymns, a homily (or sermon), and celebration of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, in which parishioners receive the “Body and Blood of Christ” in a ceremony reminiscent of Christ’s Last Supper. Communion involves the consumption of “communion wafers” and wine or a grape drink.
At each mass there is also a collection taken. Catholic charities are among the most generous in the world, funding outreach programs and caring for the sick and homeless.