On Thursday, members of the MICDS community gathered in Brauer Hall for an interfaith panel discussion, co-sponsored by the Parent Education Committee and Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis. Leaders of various faiths were represented on the panel, including Father Gary Braun, Director of the Catholic Student Center at Washington University in St. Louis; Rev. Terrie Desloge, Associate Pastor of Gateway:61 Church; Imam Kacem Djilali, Imam of Masjid Dar Aljalal in Hazelwood; Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel; Venerable Jue Huang, Director of Fo Guang Shan St Louis Buddhist Center; Rev. James Jefferson, Senior Pastor of CrossWalk Christian Church; and Jack Sisk, Member St Louis Hindu Temple, Director Living Insights Center. Rev. Dr. David Mehl, Co-Executive Director of Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis, served as moderator for the discussion.
Following the panel was time for questions and an opportunity to attend two short breakout sessions, each led by one of the panelists and designed to allow for deeper conversation and more questions.
“The Interfaith panel was a great opportunity to see, hear and understand different faiths,” said Jackie Kam-Blackard, parent of Andrea ’21. “It helped break personal preconceived ideas by fostering dialogue and questions which break down barriers; and allow us to see that we all seek similar goals, just in different ways. It was a wonderful evening to proactively build relationships with other faiths, and not as a response to disaster or violence.”
“As a committee member I was already invested in the topic, but as a participant, the event far exceeded my expectations,” said Ana Woodard, parent of Isabel ’22. “There was a beautiful sense of acceptance, respect and even intimacy among the different faith leaders which automatically transferred itself to the participants. The wrap-up session confirmed this as one by one people shared that the evening was truly something special. One participant summed it up well saying, ‘You often see or learn about a particular doctrine from a sterile point of view, but you don’t often get to personally witness and engage with the personal faith of the person that is driven by that doctrine. Witnessing that passion is not something you can ever get from a textbook.’”
“We were so pleased with the energy and openness we experienced among the community members who attended,” Vicki Thurman, director of student support services. “The opportunity to learn from and with seven different faith leaders was a new experience for most, and the conversations led to excitement to continue these conversations and Interfaith events. The feedback we have received so far about the event has been overwhelmingly positive, and the planning for more events in the future is already underway.”
To help us better plan future events, we will send out a survey to attendees so please be on the lookout for that email!