Multireligious Gathering Shows Campus Unity
April 6, 2017
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With the intention of uniting the community in the aftermath of President Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” the faith and unity service brought together approximately 12 students, faculty and staff to share their faith and support each other.
Mary “Mollie” Montague ’19, a student organizer of the event, maintained that for her, the event was especially inspiring.
“I think we had a wonderful meditative space,” she said. “I, personally, learned a great deal about people I’d worked with on the event and some that I had never met. It was a rare spiritual moment for me that really did re-inspire me with hope and understanding of human unity. If such a small group can do that, I think it would be marvelous to see what a larger group could speak to and discuss.”
The attendees gathered around a small pile of LED candles to sit on the floor together. Montague first introduced herself, then she continued to explain how the hour was to be broken up. She stated that the first half hour was geared towards sharing of texts and discussion as a whole group and the second half of the hour was dedicated to prayer, reflection and further discussion, if desired by the attendees.
The group spent the first ten minutes in silence until Donna Hughes, director of Community Service & Religious Life, broke the silence to speak of the importance of peace and silence in a time of turmoil and anxiety. After another few minutes of silence, Montague shared a hymn that she has always turned to when in need of guidance.
Students and faculty continued to share pieces of scripture, prayers and their own personal insights into religion, faith, the importance of kindness and, overall, unity among humans for the remainder of the hour. Some stayed `afterwards to continue to pray separately or converse with others.
Sara Cochran ’19 was also a student organizer of the event. She stated that she appreciated the diverse body of people that attended.
“As someone involved in the planning process, it was nice to see it all come together. It was nice to have silence and space to reflect. As a student worker in the office of Religious Life, I always enjoy moments when people from different backgrounds are able to come together and feel comfortable discussing things that matter to them.”
Montague commented that originally she had envisioned “an event open to the public in which people from all different faith backgrounds could come share their religion and stand together in support of one another” in the aftermath of President Trump’s “Muslim Ban.” When she presented the idea to Donna Hughes, “she had a similar idea in mind and got together students from her office to start planning what turned into the faith and unity service.”
“We decided to keep it only to the school community after people voiced concerns about directed prejudices,” said Montague. “I had my own expectations for the event last night, but I set those aside in favor of enjoying whatever it became.”
Although not everyone shared during the gathering, Montague “hope[s] everyone walked away feeling as though they could have shared, even if they didn’t, and that they learned something new about others or themselves. I especially hope people are able to take away a sense of solidarity, support and unity as that was the intention of the event.”
The event took place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 2 in the Stern Great Room.