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Some matters of faith

February 16, 2005

This past Sunday, Habitat for Humanity and the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County dedicated "The House that Faith Built" in Boonsboro.

In a ceremony that featured a blessing and special music played by the Rev. Ed Poling, the house was presented to its new residents, Dick and Dixie Sirbaugh and their daughter, Katie.

Despite the problems the project faced, it was an opportunity for people of different faiths to share the experience of working together on a project to help a family get affordable housing.

It was formally launched during a meeting held in January 2004 at the Kepler Theater at Hagerstown Community College.

At the time, Sayed Qadir, a member of Habitat for Humanity's board of directors, said that the "greatest moment" in the process is seeing the new home's family receive its keys.

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Habitat for Humanity does not build homes and give them away. The families, chosen by a committee, must still make mortgage payments and perform more than 500 hours of "sweat equity" working on the house. On Sunday, it was announced that the Sirbaughs had contributed more than 900 hours to the home building process.

If there is any downside to this, it is that of the $55,000 the interfaith group was required to raise, $10,000 is still needed. If you can help, please send a contribution to Habitat for Humanity, 20 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

If you're interested in learning more about different faiths, consider attending the interfaith coalition's program, "Exploring World Faiths," taught by Karen Gray, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, among others.

The first of three sessions will be held Thursday, March 3 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hagerstown YMCA on Eastern Boulevard.

To register, contact the Rev. Poling at 301-733-3565 or Dr. Shahab Siddiqui at 240-217-5985.

In her interview about the program, Gray said that we "can't begin to prevent terrible clashes in our cultures if we don't understand each other's beliefs."

Thanks to the interfaith coalition for its work to build a better community.

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