Meet Rev. Steven Greenebaum


Steven describes himself in this way: “My faith is Interfaith. My spiritual path is Judaism. My tribe is Humanity. I’m also a minister, choir director and vegetarian.”

Steven was formally an Associate Minister at Interfaith Community Church in Seattle, Washington, where he served from 2007-2010. He has an abiding interest in and passion for Interfaith.  Steven’s book The Interfaith Alternative was published in April of 2012.  His second book Practical Interfaith was published in October of 2014.  At  present, both are available in Europe, Australia and Canada, as well as the U.S..

Steven holds Masters Degrees in Theology, Mythology and Music. He was also the Director of Music at the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Marysville, for ten years.

Steven has been deeply interested in environmental and social justice issues all his life, spending three years as the Executive Director of Citizens for Environmental Responsibility.

57 Responses to Meet Rev. Steven Greenebaum

  1. Barbara Stahl says:

    I just read your book which I happened upon at our local library. I can’t wait for my husband to read it. Your book is exactly what my husband and I believe. I am Jewish and he is Methodist, but are Interfaith in our hearts. Your church is exactly what we have been looking for in our community. I am wondering if you know of any such church in the Columbus, Ohio area?

    • steven says:

      Hello, Barbara. Thank you for your comments. They are very much appreciated. Thus far, I don’t think there’s a church like ours in your area. We are at the beginning of what I hope will be a movement. I don’t know if you’ll have the interest or the time, but if you and your husband are interested, you might consider taking a bit of a leadership role. The first step might be to get a book group together, read the book and discuss how such a community might be started in Columbus. Are you familiar with Meetup? That might be one way. One of the things our church has done is put our bylaws, Mission and Vision statements on our website so that folks in the future don’t feel they need to reinvent the wheel (though I feel certain that every group will want to tweak things). But that’s getting way ahead of ourselves. For now, I really do think a book group that can read the Interfaith Alternative and discuss it can be a good start, particularly if you are able to include folks of differing faiths. I’d be happy to help with some guidelines on setting a framework for discussion.

      I hope this helps. I’ve needed to take a breather, but am planning to write a book soon that can be a guide for people wanting to start their own Interfaith church. In the meantime, again, let me know if I can be of any help.

    • steven says:

      Hello again Barbara, You might note that Pam Spence (below – posting date July 21st) lives in your area and is attempting to bring a group together to chat. This is a great way to start.

  2. Nancy says:

    Hello, Reverend Greenebaum,

    Like others who have responded, I came across your book by chance in a Barnes & Noble store, and found the “message” very timely and powerful. And like others I am curious how it contrasts with UU. I.e., at the time I happened to be exploring the philosophy and community provided by Unitarian Universalist congregations , and there seem to be very similar themes with your philosophies. So I’m excited to see you have significant experience there (your specific music involvement at UU). Can you explain the difference (if there is anything essential) between your path and that of UU? Or would you say they both support your interfaith philosophy equally?

    Thx for your book. Very thought (and heart) provoking.


    • steven says:

      Thanks, Nancy. Things are a bit full right now. I’ll hope to have a reply for you in the next week.

    • steven says:

      Hi Nancy. I want to apologize for being so slow to respond. There’s no good excuse. You ask an important question. How does Living Interfaith, and the embracing of Interfaith as a faith, differ from UU (Unitarian Universalism)?

      First, two quick caveats.

      One is that UU has no governing body that establishes doctrine. So UU congregations can vary quite a bit. As example, there are some very specifically Christian UU churches and there are some quite Humanist UU Fellowships that are very specifically NOT Christian. Many UU congregations are some blend of people of differing spiritual backgrounds. So generalizing can be tricky, as there is bound to be at least one UU congregation somewhere that falls outside that generalization. So please know that I know that there will be exceptions to however I characterize UU.

      The second caveat is that our culture tends to “compare” two differing entities in order to establish which is “better” or “best.” That will emphatically NOT be my purpose here. To my thinking Interfaith and UU are indeed different, but not in the sense that one is better than the other. Rather, there is something very specific that Interfaith is about that can make it more, or less attractive to a person – depending very much on what that person seeks.

      In general, UU welcomes people from all spiritual backgrounds into the UU family. You are probably aware that UU is a relatively recent combination of Unitarians and Universalists (1961), and while both were rather “liberal” Christian entities in their origin to begin with, the Christian heritage is, for the most part, left behind. As example, many of the traditional Christian hymns that have made it into the UU hymnal have had their words changed to make them less Christian and more universal. This thrust towards the universal, while (once again) having exceptions, is the general thrust of UU.

      Interfaith, as a faith, seeks to celebrate our differing spiritual paths. So, when we celebrate Christmas or Easter (as example) a Christian gives the morning’s message. We celebrate Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i and other spiritual path’s holy days as well – including UU (we just celebrated Flower Communion, led by a member who is UU), and when we do, we embrace for that day that path’s tradition. During a Christian service, we’ll sing the Doxology. During a Jewish service we’ll sing the Shema. And so forth. Roughly half of our services are celebrations of humanity’s diverse spiritual paths. We are intentional about this as one of our major thrusts is to learn about each other. As we say during the service, “Not to convert or convince but to share.” An article of our faith is that an important part of learning to treat each other with respect is learning about and celebrating our diverse spiritual paths as one family – the human family.

      That’s half of our services. In all honesty, the other half of our services might seem very similar to what one might find at a UU service. If you look at our service themes (and you may have already), that will become clear. Like UU (and many others, like my beloved Nuns on a Bus) Interfaith is very much justice oriented. Similar goals, just a differing approach.

  3. Chris says:

    Wonderful book! However, I think it woud be really, really something to see a book such as yours and its content combined (within the same volume) with pyschological development theory. I don’t know how one would go about doing it, but I am sure it would be a very interesting and fascinating read. Interfaith needs a fuller understanding of human development, as does any other faith. I will recommend your book to others, no doubt.

    • steven says:

      Belated thanks for your kind comments about the book. We’ll have to agree to disagree about combining theory regarding psychological development and faith. There’s an implicit value judgment about such a linkage that I don’t find helpful.

  4. Pam Spence says:

    Hello Steven,
    A friend posted a link on Facebook today to the NYT article about The Living Interfaith Church. Kismet! I have just been named chair of the Interfaith Council by my faith group, the Federation of Christian Ministries who often describe themselves as “post-denominational.” I am a fully commissioned and licensed ecumenical minister through the state of Ohio and in that capacity have celebrated rites of passage for many interfaith and “non-affiliated” couples. I would be very interested in hosting a reading/discussion group to explore a possible ongoing interfaith worship group. I am somewhat of a poster child for the interfaith movement myself, having been baptized Church of England, confirmed Methodist, graduated from a (Vatican owned) Catholic seminary, worked on staff for a Unitarian church and currently work as editor of a Jewish newspaper.
    I notice someone else on this list in the Columbus (OH) area who has expressed an interest and am wondering if you might serve as a matchmaker, providing her with my email address so we might connect?
    Going to get your book next and like that idea of starting with a reading/discussion group.

    • steven says:

      Hi Pam, Thank you for your comments. I don’t off hand know who you’re referring to, but when things calm down a bit, I’ll see if I can figure it out. I think starting with a reading/discussion group is a good idea. You might “advertise” it through “Meetup.” And if it helps, our little community meets twice a month. This is intentional. The idea is that no one should have to “leave” her/his spiritual path to join Interfaith worship. About half our congregation goes to their “home” church every other week, and joins us every other week. Let me know if I can help. What we are hoping for here is a multitude of Interfaith spiritual communities. Best, Steven

  5. jane dixon says:

    As a Unitarian Universalist, I am wondering how you see your church as different from ours.

    • steven says:

      Hello Jane. You ask a very reasonable question. If you’ll look just a little further up the page, you’ll see that others have shared your question. On April 30th of this year I tried to answer it. It is, of course, NOT an exhaustive answer. But it does, I think, get to the heart of it. It is assuredly not that one path is “better” than the other. Rather, the thrust is different.

  6. ArchiesBoy says:

    Wow! Here’s hoping you’ll start a branch in L.A. ASAP! 😀

    • steven says:

      Thanks! What you might consider is starting an Interfaith “Meetup”. It might help to start (only as a start!) with “The Interfaith Alternative” so that you are all, if not on the same page, at least speaking the same language. We’re a small spiritual community. I doubt we’ll be expanding to L.A. any time soon. 🙂

  7. Linda Jones says:

    I too just read your interview in the NYT. So happy you are forming this church and movement. I hope you have had the chance to come across Meher Baba and his teachings about bringing the religions together as beads on one string. At the end of the NYT article you say you were hoping to join something like this not start it. I have found Meher Baba has clearly shown the way that all religions are one. Blessings on your journey and that of your church!

    • steven says:

      Thank you. Yes, I’ve come across Meher Baba. Our paths are not the same, but I think you are right, we are trying to move in a similar direction.

  8. Laura says:

    My husband and I have been looking for a spiritual home exactly like what you have created for years. We would like to attend services and be more involved but live in the Kansas City area. Do you podcast your services? If not, do you have plans to start doing so?

    • steven says:

      Thank you for your comments. We have an entire ONE sermon up on YouTube (“Living Interfaith”). It is our hope to put entire services up on YouTube as we can. We’re a small church and really don’t have the resources to do more. But as we grow, we do hope to make our services more available. We ALSO very much hope to encourage Interfaith spiritual communities to begin wherever there is interest. We’ll try to help with that process in our newsletter.

  9. Samantha says:


    I am so happy to hear about you and the Church you have started. I hope that it spreads like wildfire with the love God intended. I am argumentative by nature and have always been one to question the absolutes that christianity puts out that only they will make it to heaven. I have never understood how an all-powerful being who created everyone, that gave us free will so that we were not simply robots following orders, would then choose only one view point or religion for his children to follow. My best explanation of my view that I have been able to come up with is that God is the tree trunk, religion are the branches, and the people are the leaves. I am looking forward to getting your book to see what you have to say about it all. God Bless.

    • steven says:

      That’s a good metaphor (and very Interfaith!): God is the tree trunk, religion are the branches and people the leaves. Far too many of us still argue over which branch is “right”!!

  10. Sam Davis says:

    If Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life and nobody can come to the Father, except through me,” how can I believe this and embrace others faiths that would go contrary to that statement?

    Thank you sir.

    • steven says:

      Thank you for your post. The bottom line is this: if what you state is what you believe and it helps you to be a better person, please know you’ll have no argument from me. I’m not here to say “The Interfaith way or the highway.” And I do wish you well.

      If you are truly asking the question “How can you believe Jesus is the way
      and still respect other faiths?”, you might want to examine Christian
      theologian Marjorie Suchocki’s book “Divinity and Diversity.” She spends
      her third chapter on this very question. It’s an important one.

      • Forest says:

        Sam is correct, true Christians can have no part in this. Truth is what matters, not making people feel good. What if someone’s faith says that molesting children is the way to better themselves? Are you going to affirm them?

        Truth is the only thing that matters, and if different faiths disagree, at least one of them has to be wrong, they can’t both be right. So if you can tell a the child molester that his faith is wrong, well, I guess that proves that the Inter Faith Church is wrong because you just went against what you stand for.

        Truth matters. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by Me.” Either His statement is true, or it’s false. It can’t be both. If you affirm other faiths as valid, then in actuality you are saying that you don’t really have faith and believe that the claim of Jesus is true. Thus, true Christians can have no part in this.

      • Anthony says:

        To me, I believe that verse means “How can you possibly know who God is if you don’t see how my (Jesus) life is?”. Jesus could’ve been saying “I am a way to God, I am the truth about about God & I am the life from God”.

        God bless you, Reverend. I don’t declare any denominations or political label in my life but I support you in what you do.

        • steven says:

          Thank you for your thoughts. If you are interested, “The New Interpreter’s Study Bible” delves into this question with similar conclusions, as do many Christian theologians as well as ministers.

  11. Kelli Crackel says:

    I think this is wonderful. I have been trying for years to establish some kind of interfaith church here in rural Georgia, but really have no idea how to make it work. I am Pagan, my parents and children are Christian, I have friends of all faiths. I’m no closer to figuring out how to pull off an interfaith group in the Bible Belt, but you better believe I won’t give up. Your church is an inspiration to me and others like me who have been told over and over that interfaith services could never work. Thank you for that. It gives me hope and strengthens my resolve to keep trying to bring understanding among people of different faiths.

    • steven says:

      Best of luck to you. If Living Interfaith can be of help, let us know. Have you signed up for our e-newsletters? One of our hopes is to help people such as you who are interested in starting an Interfaith church (or other spiritual community). Are you familiar with “The Interfaith Alternative”? One way to start is to form a book discussion group (Meetup is a good way to let people know). Again, all the best!

  12. Pam Spence says:

    Now have your book and will def explore starting a book discussion this fall (as soon as we get through Rosh Hashanah an Yom Kippur!). I am in Central Ohio and if any others who are reading this blog are interested, shoot me an email at Thanks.


  13. All the people should embrace this effort of unify all these faiths beause all of these faiths have one common: the self absistene and belief for the afterlife and morality. The white light religions should unite to one, the things then will be more clear.

    • steven says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. I’m not sure there is a “should” here. Differing folks will seek differing paths. But I do hope that we can become less focused on our differences and both more focused and more energetic about pursuing our common goal of a loving, compassionate world.

  14. Lorenzo says:

    Dear Reverend,
    I really appreciate your work. I write you from Italy. I’d like to ask you: how did you start your church? I have also read your book, and I think it is really wonderful.
    Thanks a lot

  15. daryl ries says:

    Where have the current blogs been published? I worry that there are no comments for 2014. I even sent a comment last month and it is not shown. I wonder if there are troubles in the organization?

    • steven says:

      Hello. Haven’t been blog posts this year. Sermons have been posted, but have been finishing a new book on Interfaith (it will be published in October). Your comment last month must have been lost. While we haven’t been having problems, our web server has. They have been hacked several times and, unfortunately, that has meant that some comments have been lost. But thank you for checking!

  16. Rev. Dr. Craig Jackson says:

    Hi Rev. Steven, this is Rev. Craig Jackson. I am fourteen years old and have a desire to start my own church and ministry. I have just been ordained a minister by the Universal Life Church in 2013 and now I belive I am ready to start my ministry. Please respond back when you have time.

    Rev. Craig

    • steven says:

      A Rev. Dr. at age fourteen, and a ordained minister at thirteen. That’s certainly impressive. You asked for my response about ministry. My suggestion would be to spend the next twenty or so years working with people, getting to know the brothers and sisters of your human family a little better. I would urge you to wait on ministry at least that long. Ministry is a wonderful calling, and I am truly glad that you feel called. Perhaps one reason you were called so young was to allow you time to prepare. All the best to you! Steven

  17. Alex says:

    I would like to start out by saying, I realize you are probably a very busy person and I thank you for taking the time to read this. As long as I’m on the subject of thanks, I would like to thank you for all you and your church has done.I have a very deep level of respect for your mission and feel that something truly great has been set in motion.

    I was raised a Roman Catholic by a mother who studied and practiced the ways passed down to her from her grandmother, who was full blooded Cherokee, and a father who found solace in a form of Wicca. Growing up in such a spiritually diverse household had a profound affect on me and the way I viewed the world. When I was 16 I began studying Buddhism, this is what eventually led me to be sitting in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery reading the NY Times article about you 6 years later and ultimately why I’m writing this e-mail now.

    For as long as I could remember I wondered why the world wasn’t more religiously cohesive. Meaning in a world where one could walk through a grocery store and see a Sikh, a Buddhist, and a Jew all waiting in line at the deli, why weren’t we, not just more tolerant, but more accepting of one another. It filled me with a very real sadness to see that instead of taking advantage of this amazing opportunity we’ve been given to learn from each other and grow from the experience, we were looking at each other with suspicion and contempt.

    To make an already long story just a bit shorter, I’m thanking you because reading about an actual living person who not only saw the things I saw but was actively seeking to change them, was not only inspiring but filled me with hope.

    • steven says:

      Hello Alex. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, supportive comment. Appreciated! Thank you as well for sharing your story. It’s clear you understand what we are about. Any help you can be in spreading the word would be appreciated. And in the meantime, best to you on your ongoing spiritual quest.

  18. Kristi says:

    I just want to say thank you for your books and your church. I received a ministry degree from a Baptist college, married a Jew and attend a UU church in Alaska. I often times call myself a religious plurialist. Haha. I think I like the term interfaith though. I think it’s so great that you are addressing a void in the religious/spiritual movement that I have felt for awhile. I thought I was alone until I found the UU church, and even so, it doesn’t fully touch on the concept of truly embracing all faiths the way your books do. My family may move to Washington, and if we do, I would love to come visit your church.
    Blessings to you!

    • steven says:

      Hello Kristi. Thank you for your supportive words. If you do move to Washington you would be welcome at our church. We’re about 15 minutes north of Seattle.

  19. Hello. I am reading your first book with great interest. I have two degrees in organ performance and a Ph.D. in humanities/music history. I am wondering if you have any advice for me concerning All Paths Divinity School. I am a Certified Clinical Musician and work part time at our county hospital playing harp and Native American flute for patients in ICU, trauma unit, NICU, etc. (I also work full time as Director of Music at an ELCA church.)

    I started college as a religion major, intending to become an Adventist pastor. After a year as a student missionary, I knew that I could not be Adventist any longer. The idea of getting an M.Div from All Paths interests me greatly but I am a bit concerned about its credentials since I have never heard of it until I did a google search. I would love to pursue the chaplaincy route and combine that with my work as a clinical musician.

    Could you please share any thoughts or advice. Thank you!

    • steven says:

      Dear Laurence, apologize for the delay in answering. In recovering from a February heart attack and open-heart surgery, I’ve gotten behind. Your experience is inspiring and reminds me a bit of my own, as I was a church choir director for many years before understanding and then answering the call to ministry. Combining chaplaincy with your work as a clinical musician sounds truly wonderful. I wish you the best.

      I really can’t comment about All Paths. I don’t know it. I do have some general thoughts and will contact you directly at your e-mail address. I had hoped by now to be more conversant with the many divinity schools and what they offer. But I haven’t been able to.

  20. Leon Books says:

    Is it possible to visit your church in the afternoon on Sept 4th? I will be in Seattle that day.

    • steven says:

      VERY sorry for this late reply. Our next service is on September 12th. We rent our space at a local Baptist church. So I’m afraid visiting our church isn’t possible. But I am glad you contacted us.

  21. Dr. Corinda Erasmus says:

    Is it possible to get copies of the sermons published on this website in PDF format?

    I am a South African and work as a specialist Food Scientist, and the sermons have excellent messages of wisdom and encouragement that we can share within our work environment here, where we have a mixture of faiths working together.

    God Bless

  22. Briana says:

    I have never believed in the idea of separating beliefs into categories with a label. I feel this is the main cause of war and hate and something humans need to really think about. Last night I had a spiritual dream that gave me the idea of a place where all religions and kinds of people can go to to celebrate life and each other’s differences. A place where we can all learn from one another and don’t feel a need to segregate. I truly feel if we stop segregating our beliefs and all come together there will be world peace. Just for a thought I googled to see if there was a place where everyone can go to worship with out identifying with one religion. I found this and was very excited there are people who feel as I do. I wish there was a group like this in Minnesota. I’m ready to make a change and move towards peace so if there are any others out there who are from Minnesota and want to start up something like this please comment or email me at I think this is the beginning of something great and it is so awesome to see others are thinking the same thing!

    • steven says:

      Hello Briana,
      Thanks for writing. It’s good to hear of your interest. In case it helps, there are two books that may assist you. The first is “The Interfaith Alternative.” It sets out a theological basis for what we do at Living Interfaith. If after reading “The Interfaith Alternative” you feel called to work with others to start an Interfaith community in your area, I’d suggest “Practical Interfaith” which was written for people who want to start Interfaith communities like ours. Good luck to you!!

  23. Jess says:


    If you are still answering questions, I have some. 🙂 First, hope you have fully recovered and are doing well!
    I could wait to read your books, in case the answer is in there, but I get excited and impatient, so I apologize if you have to repeat yourself here-
    I would love to know more on what lead you on this journey, as I have found you because I was on my own journey that lead me to the same answer… and to you.
    Kudos for the bravery it took to start this path and stick with it and I really look forward to reading your books!!

    • steven says:

      Hello, and thank you for your kind words. It would take a book to answer your question (I’ve written one, but thus far no publisher seems interested 🙂 ). But in short, I think the bottom line is that for whatever reason, I have never felt threatened by diversity. I am fascinated by it and find joy in people who are “different.” And for me, we are ALL different. Singling out one group as particularly different seems mean-spirited and pointless to me. That’s how I feel about our religious differences. Someone saying to me, “Hello, I’m Christian” (or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim or Secular Humanist or whatever) tells me nothing. I’ve known Christians I would trust with my life and Christians I wouldn’t turn my back on for two seconds. For me, each of us as individuals tells you a lot, but as a group it tells yous little. From my earliest years, I didn’t want to be a Jew worshiping with other Jews, I’ve wanted to be a part of a congregation that celebrated our diverse spiritual paths, in which Judaism has its not unimportant place but where there is no hierarchy of beliefs. It took years, a lifetime really, and a couple of intensely sacred experiences, to develop the words to express this. That became the first book. “The Interfaith Alternative.” In the end, I realized that to be a part of such a congregation I would have to form one. So I did. I wrote “Practical Interfaith” in the hopes of helping others form such congregations, and explain more fully how ours came together. I hope this helps. It’s the best I can do in a paragraph. I do hope you find the books of value.

  24. Brad says:

    I simply can’t thank you enough for your book. I have, for some time now, been searching for a path that I could truly believe in. Thanks, in no small part, to your book, I have found that path. After reading this book, I felt compelled to action. Not just for myself, but for my community and the world around me as well. I have enrolled in an Interfaith Seminary and started myself along the path of Interfaith Ministry and Chaplaincy work. Your book had a great deal to do with that. Well written and truly inspiring. For me, you have given clarity on what I had thought might be a very unclear road ahead. You showed me, not only was I on the proper path for me, but I was most certainly not alone on that path. For that, I can’t thank you enough. I’ll recommend this book to all I find who are seeking the same clarity and understanding as I once was.

    • steven says:

      Thank you for your comments Brad. It is wonderful news that you were moved to enroll in an Interfaith Seminary. I’ll be retiring soon and have pushed the ball up the field about as far as I can. It will be up to people like you to pick up the ball and run with it. If I can be of help, please do be in touch.

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