IN FAITH

Ecumenical Events at College 

 

There have recently been many opportunities for students at the University of Saint Francis to discover their own faith more in depth, while also discovering many other faiths as well. The university’s student body is very diverse religiously, and there are many students who are open to learn about other faiths as well as sharing theirs. College is very diverse and to learn about each other’s denominational beliefs adds to our college experience.

Don Clemmer, an alumnist from the university, and myself planned, initiated, and led the Interfaith Worship program along with USF Campus Ministry last year and I took the program over this academic year. Since the initiation of this program, our group has visited over 15 churches in the area and has plans to visit many more churches in the next semester. An example of a few of the denominations that we visited are: Antiochian Orthodox, United Methodist, Roman Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Missouri-Synod Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, Baptist, and non-denominational. There will be many more churches on the list for next semester as well.

There are many students who have taken advantage of this opportunity to see many other churches and denominations. This program allows students to carpool to the church and back. The program essentially gives students a chance to attend church, while giving them a chance to see other denominations as well. Jr. Hannah Eisenhauer said, “I feel that it is important for college students to involve themselves in a variety of religious experiences in order to grow and develop spiritually.” Even though the University of Saint Francis is a Franciscan Roman Catholic University, there are many different denominations represented within the student body. Through the efforts of groups such as Campus Ministry, Cougars for Life, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), all of our unique and diverse students come together in the name of Jesus Christ to further the kingdom of God.

Another ecumenical event was held on October 14, 2005 in Gunderson Auditorium called, “A Christian Dialogue, That All May Be One.” There were five students who represented their respective faiths in this dialogue by each giving a presentation about their denominations, then asking and answering questions from the other panelists in dialogue. The five denominations represented were Roman Catholic, United Methodist, non-denominational, Disciples of Christ, and Greek Orthodox. The dialogue lasted for nearly 2 hours in front of a very captive audience of around 40 people who were made up of faculty, staff, students, and members of the community.

The students designed this dialogue with some help from the USF theology department. This event was well received by the campus and the hope is that events like this will take place on other campuses as well. These events seem rather small and maybe insignificant compared to other national events, but these things mean a lot to the students involved, who are trying to make a difference in the world. The hope is that more students will get involved with the ecumenical movement not only on our campus, but in all churches as well. Only if people would dialogue together about their faiths, will there be a greater understanding of faiths therefore allowing more respect for each church. A theologian once said that there will be no peace in the world, until there will be peace between the religions. Students at the University of Saint Francis are trying to find respect and peace between religions. My hope and prayer is that all students will understand this need for better understanding and respect for one another including religious beliefs.

The Waynedale News Staff
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