7:25 PM EDT, May 30, 2011
Religion in Howard County is both diverse and flourishing. Close to 300 faith communities worship here, including Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Islamic, Mormon, Christian Scientist, Seventh-day Adventist, Baha’i, Buddhist, Scientologist and Unitarian Universalist groups.
Among them are at least 43 Baptist, 41 Methodist, 15 Roman Catholic, 15 Presbyterian, 12 Lutheran, 10 Episcopalian and seven Jewish congregations, as well as one for Messianic Jews. They meet in interfaith centers, churches, synagogues, schools or neighborhood facilities — more than 200 places of worship. Many foreign-language congregations also have formed in recent years.
With Columbia’s founding in 1967 came the concept of interfaith centers, allowing city planners to use land and resources more wisely. The interfaith centers in Wilde Lake, Oakland Mills, River Hill and Owen Brown are home to 20 worship communities. The newest interfaith campus opened in Kings Contrivance, housing the Cornerstone Church of God and The Orthodox Church of St. Matthew.
For more than 40 years, the Bon Secours Spiritual Center in Marriottsville has offered a place of retreat for groups or individuals interested in spending a quiet day in peace, reflection and prayer. The center, which is run by the Sisters of Bon Secours, welcomes self-guided retreats, but also offers both day- and weekend-long retreats and workshops. It has meeting rooms, a chapel and a dining room, and elsewhere on the 313-acre site are a pond, labyrinth, Japanese garden, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and bookstore. Its 70 overnight rooms were recently renovated, each with a private bath. To find out more, visit www.bonsecoursspiritualcenter.org.
Useful phone numbers
Associated Catholic Charities
Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church
Bon Secours Spiritual Center
Christian Services of Howard County 410-465-1060
Dar al-Taqwa Mosque
Jewish Federation of Howard County
Oakland Mills Interfaith Center
Owen Brown Interfaith Center
The Gathering Place in River Hill
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