Campus faiths unite to educate

 

March 12, 2014

by Amanda Ramirez

 

The first interactive House of Worship tour allows students and community members an opportunity to experience three religions within a few hours.

Several campus religious organizations will host a free Whitewater House of Worship tour from 12:30 to 4 p.m. on March 14. The tour involves visiting a local Muslim Mosque, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and partaking in a Jewish Purim Service conducted in the University Center.

Zanin
Zanin

The tour begins at the Whitewater Islamic Center at W4890 Tri County Road on Highway 12. UW-Whitewater Catholic Campus Minister Brian Zanin planned the outing.

“There aren’t many people who have the courage,” Zanin said.  “They may [have] the curiosity, but they may not have the courage to walk into an Islamic Center if they are not Muslim, or for non-Christians to walk into a Christian church. It’s a truly unique opportunity to be welcomed in by that community.”

The first time the various religious organizations on campus collaborated was during the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. The organizations conducted a large service on campus followed by an interfaith service involving the Christian, Jewish and Muslim student organizations.

The event is not merely a tour of places of worship, but also a short prayer service with each religion. Attendees receive information from those who are willing to teach and discuss the parameters of their religious practices.

Leaders of each religious group play a role in event organization and coordination of their own site.

Leading the tour at St. Patricks’ Catholic Church is Daniel Strandt, senior finance and general business major and member of the Catholic Student Coalition group.

Strandt will show students of other faiths the different parts of the church while explaining the symbolism associated with various items and rituals.

Drucker
Drucker

“A lot of people have a misunderstanding of what each religion really believes, what they really practice and what they are really working for in this world,” Strandt said.

The event is not only to discover differences between world religions, but also to find similarities among various faiths, said Thomas Drucker, a lecturer in the Mathematics Department and adviser for the Jewish student organization.

“There are a lot of differences in detail, but some of the words that are used and some of the attitudes those words express are remarkably similar across the religious communities,” Drucker said.

The main challenge leaders experienced when planning the event was the balance between authenticating tradition and comprehensibility.

Drucker said traditionally Jewish scripture is read in Hebrew. The Purim service will contain a modest amount of Hebrew so participants can witness a traditional service, but most of the celebration will be conducted in English so students can understand the underlying messages portrayed in readings.

Drucker, Strandt and Zanin agreed the interfaith event will add further depth to participants’ sense of diversity and perception of the world.

“Unless you’re going to spend your life in a very homogeneous community, which there are fewer and fewer of them in the United States, you’re going to be spending time with different people professionally, socially whose religious observances take different forms,” Drucker said.

Strandt said he strongly encourages individuals to attend to better understand the diversity in faith.

“Expand your vision of the world so that you are not going through the world with blinders on,” Strandt said.

For more information or for transportation from campus, call Zanin at the Campus Ministry Center at 262-473-5555 or email [email protected]

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