On Wednesday Feb. 13, the Multifaith Campus Ministry held their second faith fair in the library loggia between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Nine different religious groups were represented, which included the Dayton Pagan Coalition, the Ahmadiyya Mosque, the Sikh Community, the Mormon (LDS) Church, the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Center for Spiritual Living in Greater Dayton, the Bahá’í Community, and the Interfaith Forum of Dayton.
This colorful pallet of religions gave their insights into their beliefs and answered questions from the Sinclair community.
According to Multifaith Chaplin, Larry Lindstrom, the faith fair was inspired by the display “Quilting the Golden Rule.” The display was a showcase with quilts representing different religions and traditions being shown during the month of January. This has been a tradition for the past five years.
The display allows students to explore the teaching of the golden rule; that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated.
“[It] was to help people understand that we need to take care of each other… and we looked for some way to do a program that might connect to interfaith conversation,” said Lindstrom with regards to the creation of the faith fair.
The Ministry originally planned to bring in the religious and traditional groups represented on the quilts while the quilts were still up, but due to the snow days earlier in the month, the quilts were unable to appear for the fair. Nevertheless, the fair was and is certainly a growing success.
One of the main reasons for the faith fair is to expose the different religions our world has to offer; it allows students to explore religions that may interest them for their own practice and helps them better understand the religious communities that are all around them.
“I believe that students, when they go out to the workforce, [will] be alongside people of other faith traditions and it would be really helpful to have some understanding of what their faith is about… my hope here is to help students become more aware of other faith traditions,” said Lindstrom.
In order to expand on the groups that would attend from the four or five that attended last year, the Ministry reached out to some of the professors at Sinclair with connections to other religious groups outside of Christianity (last year, most of the religious communities that attended the fair were Christian).
In the open invitation to any of the religious communities who were interested in attending, groups were reminded that Sinclair’s philosophy is that everybody has a voice and that one should respect that voice.
Groups were also told to exclude any “anti” pieces, for one of the main purposes of the fair is inclusion.
After speaking to many of the communities that were represented, students were able to test what they already understood and were able to have any questions answered by the representatives.
They were able to see how a certain religion helped shape the representatives’ lives. According to Lindstrom, the representatives were blown away by the students’ openness and preparedness to engage in intelligent conversations about religion.
“One of the groups had even said to me, ‘you know, I didn’t expect this kind of warm reception. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but I didn’t know you would be so kind and hospitable.’”
When asked about future faith fairs, Lindstrom states that the Ministry plans on broadening the group even farther. They are also considering providing food during the event.
“I’ve certainly found that open conversation often happens around food,” he said.
The Multifaith Ministry is holding three more events this term: On Feb. 28 at 1 p.m., they will hold a program on the Mormon Church and will have two speakers from the Dayton branch of the church introduce people to the Latter Day Saint (LDS) tradition and the history of the church.
On March 21 at 1 p.m. the Ministry will be holding a program called “Discovering Your Own Truth” that addresses what it means to identify as a nonreligious in a religious culture.
Professors will dive into the idea of how it is assumed that we live in a culture where everybody has a religious commitment of some kind.
Finally, on April 1 they will host a program called “I Want to Hear Your Voice,” which is a part of a growing series of programs which allows voices we might not otherwise hear have an opportunity to speak.
This particular event will focus on women in Islam and will allow them to share their perspective regarding stereotypes of Islamic women.
“It’s really going to be a program where we allow those folks to establish the agenda”, states Lindstrom, explaining that they will steer the ship answering questions and sharing their stories with the audience.
The Multifaith Campus Ministry tries to hold an event every month during the term.