The Interfaith Committee of the Ecumenical Conference of Greater Altoona, working with the Office of Institutional Equality and Diversity at Penn State Altoona, will offer its 10th annual "Matter of Faith" Summer Series beginning Tuesday and continuing every Tuesday through Aug 3.
The series will look at the history of wedding rituals that are rooted in secular culture and religious theology.
"The series will help us understand why we do what we do in our wedding traditions. Perhaps it will help us see weddings a little differently as each of our presenters share the unique theological foundations, and both cultural and religious implications from four distinct faith traditions," said Cindy Baney of the Interfaith Committee.
The opening session will be held at 7 p.m. July 13 at Agudath Achim Congregation, 1306 17th St.
Pastor Jennett Wertz of Garden Heights/Lakemont United Methodist churches will explore the mix of theology and secular customs that have influenced wedding rituals for centuries.
Hazzan Michael Horwitz of Agudath Achim Congregation and Bill Wallen, executive director of the Jewish Federation, will offer the theological foundations of a Jewish wedding.
The customs of the Ketubah (marriage contract), the liturgical music, the wedding canopy, the breaking of the glass and the circling of the bride and groom will be shared along with other aspects of Jewish weddings.
The second session will be held at 7 p.m. July 20 at the Edith Davis Eve Chapel at Penn State Altoona. Michael Allison, a member of The Ananda Buddhist Monastery representing the Mahayanist Tradition, will present "Emptiness, Mindfulness and Inter Being," an introduction to Buddhism.
Building on this foundation, he will present a Buddhist marriage ceremony featuring chanted Sutras and other devotional recitations and practices.
The third session will be held at 7 p.m. July 27 at St. George Orthodox Church, 519 58th St.
Deacon Jack Hoffer of St. Luke's Episcopal Church will offer an overview of the rituals and symbolism in the Christian faiths.
The differences and the commonalities between Roman Catholic and the Protestant traditions will be explored.
Father Stephen Lourie of St. George Orthodox Church will share the theology and symbolism that is unique to Eastern Orthodox wedding traditions. Two of those elements are the crowning of the couple and a dance around a table where the Holy Gospel has been placed.
The final session will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 3 in Room 150 Hawthorne at Penn State Altoona.
Shamsa Anwar, secretary of the Islamic Center, will explain the traditions of the intertwining of two families as a man and woman start a new household together, seeking the blessings of God in the Islamic faith.
Sessions will provide a time for questions, fellowship and refreshments provided by the host congregation.
The series is supported by grants from the Jewish Federation and the Ecumenical Conference of Greater Altoona.