On September 24, a kick-off to a new book series discussion occurred in the McCoy room of the Wilmington College campus. Known as the Interfaith Panel Discussion, it was a discussion about three religions that will be introduced in the Pathways of Faith: Muslim Journeys Book Discussion Series. The theme was “Commonalities: The Children of Abraham.” The three women who answered questions about each separate faith were Shakila Ahmad of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Jewish Rabbi Margaret Meyer, and Quaker minister Julie Rudd. Each gave different perspectives from the different faiths in response to questions asked by Wilmington College campus minister Dan Kasztelan.
As a beginning statement that introduced the theme of the event, Dan said, “Usually I tell people to interpret what someone says on the basis of their own understanding of God, but today I’m asking you to open your mind to the differences.” As the discussion proceeded, questions as simple as “Where are your different places of worship?” or as complex as “How does your faith tell you to treat other human beings, whether your religion or not?” were asked. Although there were occasional differences in the answers, there were many similarities. It was unique because the three women did not argue about which faith was correct; rather, they peacefully shared the values of each belief system with no debates, eliminating hard feelings and judgments throughout the discussion.
Marlaina Leppert-Wahl, assistant professor of political science, connects the experience to the values of Wilmington College by sharing, “I feel like this was an excellent opportunity for the Wilmington College students and the surrounding community to learn more about the differences, more importantly the similarities among these three faith traditions. It ties into Wilmington College’s mission to promote respect for all persons, peace, and social justice.” Marlaina and Jean Mulhern, director of the Watson Library, received a grant to organize the series.
The goal of the series is to teach others about the different faiths and create a greater sense of unity between human beings. The more people know about the belief systems, the more respect people in the community can have towards each other. The community partners who made this possible are the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, the Wilmington College Peace Resource Center, the Wilmington Public Library, the Wilmington College Watson Library, and Assistant Professor Marlaina Leppert-Wahl. The book discussions will occur on the Wilmington College campus on select Tuesday nights over the 2013 to 2014 academic year. All students are welcome.