Creating an Environment of Understanding
Oct 10, 2011Cobbers are preparing themselves for a world of change through a student movement designed to better understand each other's beliefs.
Better Together was started by the campus ministry co-commissioners last year to promote conversation between faith groups. When President Obama challenged campuses to embrace interfaith dialogue, Mary Beenken '12, Fort Collins, Colo., and Blake MacKenzie '12, St. Cloud, Minn., took over where they left off.
"We want people to feel safe and comfortable talking about faith," MacKenzie says.
Participants spent the afternoon of Oct. 1 removing trash along the banks of the Red River with River Keepers, a local nonprofit. Because service is a core tenet of many faiths, it was a good conversation starter.
"Serving together helps you get to know people of other backgrounds," Beenken says. "It is a lot harder to judge and be harsh when you know someone personally."
After the cleanup, the students gathered for reflection about service and faith.
This is only the start of what student leaders hope will be a large, longstanding movement at Concordia.
"We live in a world where the black and white answers of faith traditions don't work anymore," Beenken says. "We have to have an understanding of each other's religions if we are going to move forward."
MacKenzie, Beenken and the Rev. Tessa Moon Leiseth attended the August kickoff event for the president's challenge in Washington, D.C. Concordia was one of 250 schools with a student campaign in response to Obama's appeal. While the three were at the Capitol, they networked with other campus leaders and received encouragement from government leaders who are involved with the project.