First official interfaith week to be hosted by Better Together, student secular community
In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to make World Interfaith Harmony Week the first week of February. This year, Concordia will be observing the week with events and dialogue hosted by Better Together and the Student Secular Community.
Members of the Better Together Lead Team discuss plans for interfaith week at a meeting earlier this week. Photo by Maddie Malat.
Julia Brucklacher, community lead for Better Together took on the challenge of bringing Interfaith Week to Concordia this year. Brucklacher witnessed interfaith weeks on other campuses, namely at University of North Dakota, where her dad works as a campus pastor.
“We, Better Together, chose to do interfaith week at Concordia in conjunction with World Interfaith Harmony Week, [because] our aim is to educate the student body and the community while celebrating our faith and non-faith diversity,” Brucklacher said.
Brucklacher and Better Together aim to create an inclusive and safe community through the events of this week, by collaborating with the F-M community and Concordia’s SSC.
“We have four interfaith chapels, three evening events and we will be tabling during the week,” Brucklacher said.
According to Brucklacher, the evening events will include a presentation on Islamophobia in the media, a food sampling of some dietary restrictions of different religions and a secular student panel. All events are open to students, faculty, staff and the local community.
Rosina Halverson-Studer, co-president of Better Together, sees this week of events as a natural extension of the work Better Together does every week.
“In the past few years we’ve put on some wonderful events, but we haven’t yet capitalized on the fact that there is this national interfaith harmony week,” Halverson-Studer said. “In light of … ongoing xenophobia, Islamophobia and … fear-motivated rhetoric that has been surrounding the general elections, we have a responsibility … to offer students opportunities to grapple with those issues … and seek understanding of groups they might not have encountered prior to college.”
Halverson-Studer said an interfaith week like this has not occurred in the past because there was not a student passionate enough to lead the charge in the organization process. Also, Better Together is busy throughout the year planning other interfaith events.
Brucklacher said that the desire to create an interfaith week has been among Better Together in the past.
“Honestly, I don’t think people have seen an example,” she said. “I was really motivated, and I knew it was possible because I have been to interfaith weeks before.”
With the experience from witnessing other interfaith weeks, Brucklacher felt confident using the organizational expertise of Better Together and bringing the event to Concordia.
“Concordia College practices interfaith cooperation because of its Lutheran dedication to prepare thoughtful and informed global citizens who foster wholeness and hope, build peace through understanding, and serve the world together,” she said.
Brucklacher believes that college is the time to form these interfaith bonds and strengthen our identities through these types of interactions.
“It is important for college students to get involved in interfaith work and interfaith dialogue because it is a time where we are finding our passions, and we continue to form who we are.”
Karen Besonen is a senior Multimedia Journalism major, originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota. She is an enthusiast of music, along with keeping a personal blog and following the action on Capital Hill. She has a passion for traveling and philanthropic work, and with her degree, she hopes to work for a Christian nonprofit that fights the trafficking and exploitation of children.