In June 2013 All Saints parishioners Diane and Bob Frankle launched an interfaith dialogue program to promote dialogue and understanding and build trust relationships among participants from different faiths. Diane and Bob initiated the program in collaboration with All Saints Palo Alto and Congregation Beth Am.
More than 160 people have participated in the multi-session dinner program. Four different churches and two synagogues have served as sponsors for eight programs. The program has included participants from All Saints Palo Alto, St. Timothy’s Mountain View, St. Andrews’ Saratoga, other churches in the Diocese of El Camino Real, Sacred Heart, Saratoga, a Roman Catholic parish, congregants from Congregation Beth Am, Congregation Shir Hadash, and several other local faith communities. The program was last held in Saratoga just before the beginning of the COVID pandemic, in January and February 2020, sponsored by Congregation Shir Hadash and Sacred Heart Church, with 22 participants.
Participants are not expected to be an expert in or an ambassador from their respective religions. The program helps participants learn about their own faith, as well as about people of a different faith. The clergy provide a sanctuary tour of each facility as well as a greeting, but otherwise the program is entirely lay led with four facilitators for each program.
Beyond the introductory program, strong alumni programming has included annual Interfaith Passover Seders and opportunities for further dialogue among alumni on books, films and religious and spiritual topics.
Bob and Diane Frankle founded Building Bridges Together™, a non-profit devoted to promoting interfaith dialogue, in 2019, along with Phil Palmer, another member of All Saints’ and one of the inaugural Building Bridges facilitators. The non-profit has been developing a new curriculum to promote interfaith dialogue with Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
A multi-faith working group, with 14 participants from All Saints, Congregation Beth Am and Pacifica Institute, a local mosque, has been meeting since mid-2019 to provide advice on this new program, Interfaith Bridges™, which will include both bi-faith and tri-faith options. All Saints’ parishioners Diane Frankle, Phil Palmer, Susan Barkan, Beth Wigen and John Toccalino are involved in this ongoing curriculum development project.
In 2022, Building Bridges Together launched its website and began offering its new curriculum across the United States. Locally BBT is offering its Interfaith Bridges program with Congregation Beth Am as the primary sponsor, in a beta program with a local mosque and a Los Altos-based Episcopal Church. All Saints is a Trusted Partner of Building Bridges Together. In April 2022 Diane and Bob Frankle lead an Interfaith Seder at All Saints Episcopal Church on the Wednesday of Holy Week, with more than 25 participants. Future Interfaith Bridges programs and other interfaith discussions are under consideration for All Saints in 2023.