Holy Curiosity for Interfaith Connections

The Rev. Trey Phillips

Priest, St. Catherine’s | Marietta

Ordination was Trey Phillip’s new thing in 2022, and in this new beginning, he channeled his own curiosity and encouraged the same in the young people that he works with as Director of Youth Ministries at St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Marietta. Curiosity is integral to interfaith work and responding to hate, like the anti-semitic vandalism at a nearby high school a year ago.

“How do we respond to this as people of faith?” Phillips asked. “How do we respond to this ignorant hatred that has reared its head again in our community?”

In a circled “fishbowl” meeting where youth spoke and adults listened, “I heard anger. I heard frustration,” Phillips said. “I heard people being indignant that this could happen. I heard confusion, but I also heard love and concern for our Jewish siblings. These were emotive responses to forces in life that shouldn’t take place, and were rooted in Jesus’s own example of one who felt anger, frustration and indignation.”

That circle of concern expanded as the youth led a partnership with a local synagogue, Temple Kol Emeth, and also are making new connections with Jewish and Muslim youth groups, “to build bonds of solidarity, to say that we stand with you and we need each other at this time,” Phillips said. “We need to take time to listen.”

Phillip’s journey to the priesthood was nurtured through mentors who selflessly invested their leadership skills to help him develop as a young person. They inspire him still, and from that passion, Phillips aims to instill in young people what he calls spiritual posture.

“It’s this sense of wanting to honor and respect the dignity of all human beings,” he said. “It’s even just that posture of saying you are welcomed here … that the Episcopal Church embodies this spirit of openness, of journey. You don’t have to have it figured out, despite your history and paths and where you came from, and what you might or might not feel about yourself. Here and in this youth group, there’s a space for you.”

From curiosity comes new awareness of what is possible, and for Phillips, that new discovery is clear: “God is leading us to cross boundaries that otherwise we wouldn’t cross on our own, in particularly the boundaries of faith.”