Interfaith Tour of Aiken

A handful of churches and synagogues, including Adath Yeshurun, pictured here, participated in the Interfaith Tour of Aiken event Saturday.

Places of worship across the Aiken area opened their doors to anyone and everyone – especially the curious – this weekend, celebrating and embracing the message behind Interfaith Harmony Month.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., sanctuaries such as the Adath Yeshurun synagogue and St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church offered tours and conversation to those who stopped by.

Judith Evans, who is involved in the local interfaith initiative, spent the morning at Adath Yeshurun, just off Aiken's main downtown drag, greeting and speaking with visitors.

Evans, a Holocaust survivor, said Saturday's Interfaith Tour of Aiken event was meant to be both conversational and educational, something that would hopefully foster a community dialogue and a better understanding of each other.

"We have the same message," Evans said, referencing the spectrum of faiths and belief systems. She added, "Hatred comes from fear."

Just a few blocks away, historian Ed Mann offered tours of the historic St. Thaddeus grounds.

He said the interfaith tour was a great way for people to familiarize themselves with their neighbors and their respective beliefs.

"We open our doors to everyone," Mann said.

Rick Berry, who is involved in the interfaith initiative, too, explained that at its most basic, the celebration is a proselytizing-free opportunity to find common ground.

Interfaith Harmony Month in Aiken kicked off with a proclamation from Mayor Rick Osbon. All the events – including a West African drumming demonstration and a lecture or two – have been free and open to the public.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin