The Valley’s Interfaith Council hosts “Day of Religious Understanding”
■ By Elyse Askari / Reporter
One piece of baggage that diversity tends to lug along is misunderstanding. Differences between races, classes and religions are something all people face and have to decide how to handle. For the people involved in the Day of Religious Understanding at Mt. San Jacinto College, however, these differences are not only embraced – they are celebrated.
People of all different ethnicities and religious backgrounds gathered together in the MSJC Library the morning of Saturday, April 8th for a delicious breakfast of fruits, pancakes, sausage and eggs – with a side order of understanding. Returning members and newcomers both young and old took a moment of silence before breakfast to pray – in each of their own ways – for the struggles of the San Jacinto Valley and of the world.
“This event has been going on for 16 years,” said Interfaith Council Vice President Krystyne Gray. “There are over 200 faiths and churches in the Valley…anyone can be a member of the Interfaith community.” This past event was the first in recent years where breakfast was served, and it was a great time for mingling and discussion as the open seating format eagerly supported.
“The diversity makes it easier to hold conversation,” said one returning member of the Interfaith community and student at MSJC, “and (we) learn what we can do to help the community.”
JustServe.org, an online, community-connecting initiative, invited people to get involved and explore their display tables, which had materials that explained many different religions. Counters strewn with informational flyers invited attendees to explore the various belief systems present in the Valley and throughout the globe. A panel of interfaith council members discussed various topics regarding the theme of the day: “Who Is Your Neighbor?” Sharing personal back stories, traditional beliefs, and historical figures as they related to modern definitions of “neighbors,” each panel member openly discussed their traditional interpretation of “neighbor,” and how the community can “grow in appreciation of one another,” as council member Michael Madrigal emphasized.
The MSJC Library was the perfect backdrop. Books filled with differing ideologies and lessons surrounded a group of people celebrating a day where all people have “an opportunity to learn about their varieties and grow in understanding of one another” to better the community by coming together in an effort to connect with each other and the rest of the valley.