Centre College’s interfaith dialogue organization CentreFaith recently sponsored the second annual Interfaith Dialogue Panel Convocation.
“It was quite a success, filling up Weisiger Theatre and sparking conversation about interfaith dialogue around campus,” said Ellen Tyra ’19, president of CentreFaith.
Tyra said the convocation included dynamic conversations about topics of religion and dialogue between people of different backgrounds. Students were able to submit questions anonymously via text message.
The purpose of the recent convocation was to demonstrate an interfaith dialogue and to provide the campus community with more insight into Buddhism, Sikhism and Catholicism.
The panelists included Sudha Chopra representing Sikhism, Abbott Tyson Davis from the Lexington Zen Buddhist Center and Centre alumnus Fr. Norman Fischer ’95 from Lexington Catholic High School.
“Each of the panelists brought a unique perspective and contributed to the overall conversation about why interfaith dialogue is significant and how to approach opportunities for this discussion,” Tyra added.
In addition, Tyra said a secondary purpose of the convocation was to explore the diversity within each faith tradition.
“Buddhism, for example, is typically associated with Asian cultures,” she said. “Yet, we had a representative who did not fit within the constraints of the stereotypical depiction of Buddhism. This experience of learning about diversity within faith traditions is a good complement to the classroom knowledge that students may be studying.”
The Interfaith Dialogue Panel Convocation started in October 2017, with a panel of speakers representing Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.
“Students expressed an interest in hearing more about these faith traditions and seeing an example of interfaith dialogue take place,” Tyra said. “Each year, we are building upon the foundation that we created with the previous year’s convocation, as students become more familiar with interfaith dialogue and the methods of compassionate discussion.
“That is a key reason why we sought to establish the Interfaith Dialogue Panel convocation in the way that we did,” she continued. “CentreFaith seeks to nurture understanding, curiosity and respectful consideration of differences as they relate to a challenging topic: religion.”
In her opinion, Tyra believes it is important for Centre to host convocations like this and seek opportunities for difficult discussions.
“As global citizens, we will all encounter people who are different from us,” she concluded. “Whether that is a difference in religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, experiences or other forms of personal identity, knowing how to respectfully and compassionately engage in conversation about these differences is a key to building successful relationships both now and in the future.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
October 15, 2018
Header photo: Abbott Tyson Davis, Sudha Chopra, and Fr. Norman Fischer ’95 share their perspectives and contribute to the interfaith dialogue on campus.