Acceptance is the motto of the Brookville Multi-Faith Campus, where any age, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, marital status, family configuration, physical or mental ability or education is always welcomed.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, members and religious leaders spoke at the campus’ open house where some explained how the church embraced their wish for a multi-faith family when other houses of worship would not.
The Lopera's story
Glen Covers Jessica and Sebastian Lopera were set to be married in Dec. 2015. Sebastian was raised Christian and Jessica, Jewish. They both had a relationship with God and wanted to keep that in their ceremony.
When it came time for them to find an officiant, they were surprised to find that they were discriminated against for wanting to keep their ceremony and marriage multi-faith.
“The temple my family had belonged to denied us, and several churches wouldn’t even respond,” said Jessica.
They ended up using a Catholic justice of the peace to officiate, who was supposed to perform a non-denominational ceremony, but instead it was far from how they had envisioned it. “It was lovely because I was happy to marry my husband,” recalled Jessica, “but he [the justice of the peace] had to be the worst part of my wedding.”
Finding the Brookville Campus
It was the following year when Jessica was pregnant with their first son that the couple knew they had to make a decision on how to raise him. “We needed to select a place that we’d all enjoy,” she said. “We also realized that meant someone would have to compromise their position, it would have to be either or.”
In Sept. 2016, Jessica drove past the church on 2 Brookville Road, and a “blessing of the animals” sign caught her attention. The event was set to take place on Sebastian’s birthday, so she took it as a sign.
When they met with the pastor, Rev. Vicky Eastland, they knew they found the perfect place to “celebrate, respect and learn each other’s religious upbringing and beliefs,” Jessica said.
When their son was born, the Lopera’s held a blessing ceremony for him at the Brookville Church, led by Eastland and Cantor Irene Failenbogen. It included both a christening and Hebrew naming, which united the two halves that is their son. “Each of our guests were touched by the uniqueness of the ceremony and acknowledged just how blessed our son was,” recalled Jessica. “The love expressed that day was just heartwarming.”
The Lopera’s now attend the Sunday morning service with Eastland and the Friday Night Shabbat with Rabbi Stuart Paris and Failenbogen.
“We hope others in a similar situation can find this place, hopefully sooner than we did,” Jessica said. “Religion should be peace, harmony and love, and we are happy to say that we have found that here.”
The Brookville Multi-Faith Campus encompasses The Brookville Church, The Muslim Reform Movement Organization, The New Synagogue of Long Island, and The Interfaith Community. For more information visit http://churches.rca.org/brookville/index.html or call (516) 626-0414.