Q & R: Coexist?

Here’s the Q:

I was a virtual participant during the NCLI this past weekend, and was able to watch the recordings of your three talks. I loved what you said about movements and each of us doing our different part. I am currently a UMC elder, however, I’m in the process of transferring my credentials to UCC. I’ve been working on a proposal and plan for a new church/faith community start and would love your input on two areas. My dream is that this community would be intentional with partnering with other faith traditions in the area of mission. I love the idea of working to paint a bigger picture of God, and build bridges of acceptance and understanding. I’d love to do this by demonstrating that because of the God that is within us all, we can work together to take the love that is within us all and pour that love into the lives of those around us. I created a “mock” church website as a way to better visualize all the ideas swirling around in my brain. For this specific area, I labeled the tab “Coexisting.” Then your book came along, blowing my mind at how I might really be onto something here! After reading Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? I’m not sure that’s the best word to use. Do you have any thoughts on that?
And finally, do you have any advice on how I, as a mid 30’s white female, can best navigate my approach and dialogue with those of other faiths? Many if not all such leaders will most likely be men who are not used to seeing women in such roles? Thank you so much for your time. Here’s the link to my website that I’m working on so you can have a better idea of what I’m talking about. Again, thank you for all your work and wisdom!

Here’s the R:
I checked out your website and thought it was very good. One suggestion – any new venture like this will involve people trusting you. So I’d be sure to add a lot about you on the website. I know that might sound egotistical, but it’s not for ego’s sake; it’s to help people feel they know you enough to trust connecting with you.
The language under Coexisting felt kind of “old school.” As you know from reading Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?, I think that it’s a misdiagnosis to think that our problems are because of religious differences. (In the book, I suggest that our hostilities come not from differences but from something we all hold in common.) So I’d speak more of celebrating and understanding both our similarities and differences so that we can collaborate for the common good.
By the intelligence of your inquiry and your website, I know you’ll “get” that.
On the question of you being a woman, I would encourage you to be confident and non-defensive. I think you’ll find leaders from other religions will be respectful of you as a woman Christian leader – it’s easier, probably, to accept differences in other religions than in one’s own sometimes!
One final suggestion: Don’t minimize the wonderful contributions of Christian faith in your attempt to be hospitable to others. The best partnerships don’t reduce participants to the least common denominator. Rather, they call for what is best and most unique in each participant so they can share their treasures with one another.