Interfaith Story, an online discussion group of the National Storytelling Network (NSN), is a gathering of storytellers and listeners who share a common desire to bring the teaching and healing power of wisdom tales from around the world and sacred stories from every spiritual or faith tradition, present and past, to individuals, groups and communities.
We share stories in order to….
We celebrate the power of story to…
History of the Interfaith Storytelling Discussion Group
The NSN annual conference was held in Providence, Rhode Island, and the still-new Healing Story Alliance special interest group was presenting its first all-day preconference workshop featuring Erica Helm Meade. At special interest break-out sessions in the afternoon, Gert Johnson and Sheila Darr (now known as the Rev. Sheila Grace Wellspring) were among 10-12 people interested in the use of healing story in spirituality. Instantly friends, they met for lunch the next day to discuss their ideas for forming a storytelling community of other tellers who shared their interests. Gert had been leading an interfaith story circle in the Tri-City area (Albany, Schenectady, and Troy) of New York state since 1993. Sheila was deeply interested in the use of story for spiritual guidance and healing. After the conference, they stayed in touch.
At the NSN annual conference in Denver, Colorado, Gert and Sheila decided to see what kind of interest people might have in their ideas for an Interfaith Storytelling discussion group. Gert made arrangements and posted a notice on the bulletin board announcing a last-minute meeting space and time. About 25 folks showed up! Everyone shared their reasons for being attracted to interfaith, faith-based, and spiritual storytelling, as well as the work they were already doing in those areas. We generated ideas about what they might want from a formal interest group--resources, ideas, opportunities to learn and discuss, etc. A mailing list was generated, and Sheila took responsibility for creating a listserv by the next fall. Gert petitioned NSN for official discussion group status, which was granted.
Gert led the annual discussion group meeting at the national conference--at 8:00 on Sunday morning--with about 20 people in attendance. Those gathered reviewed the discussion group mission statement and listserv goals, recommending changes to better reflect the interests and needs of members. The changes were made and posted on the listserv webpage (Yahoo!Groups). That year Gert and others who have participated in her Interfaith Story Circle celebrated the 10th anniversary of the group’s existence. Also that year, Sheila moved from Texas to Arizona and began a 2-year seminary program at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary (based in New York City).
In June, the Interfaith Storytelling website was launched (www.interfaithstory.org) --with great thanks to storyteller Kate Dudding, who designed and maintains the site, and also to Brian Lenihan at LIT-media.com, who designed the logo and donates internet access for the site.
At the NSN annual conference in Bellingham, Washington, Gert gave a showcase presentation called “Transforming Communities with Interfaith Telling: If You Build It, They Will Come” in which she described how to form and run an interfaith story circle. That year we held our first Interfaith Storytelling swap, with 40+ tellers attending the early afternoon time slot, and member Doug Bland conducted the annual meeting later in the week.