This week’s reflection comes from Drew Sorenson, a junior Civil Engineering major from Lexington, Ky.
I have had the great pleasure of participating in a series of interfaith service projects over the last several months. My friend Nate is a Gaines Fellow here at the university and a devout Catholic, and he was inspired in part by the Reformation 500 activities to make his jury project about interfaith interactions. He decided to broaden the scope of this interfaith outreach beyond Lutherans and Catholics and focus on more broad, less formal interfaith interactions through service opportunities.
During these projects, I had the chance to serve with diverse group of people, from members of the Jewish campus ministry to some of the Baha’i students to people with no religion at all. One of the things that I liked most about these interactions was the diversity of conversation. We got the chance not only to talk about our religions with one another, but we also had the opportunity to talk about ourselves and get to know one another in more than just an “icebreaker” context.
This kind of interfaith service opportunity worked so well because Nate laid out the expectation for our service project. We were not coming together to solve the world’s religious problems or engage in rousing theological debate or “convert” anyone. Our goals were simply to do good work in our community together, to get to know each other, and to get to know a little bit about each other’s beliefs.
This kind of “global” service has the potential to greatly increase our understanding of both our neighbors and our communities. I am not aware of a religious group that does not value service, and this kind of collective action can help us build relationships and make connections that can strengthen both our communities and our ability to do collective good in those communities.