Students of diverse faiths find common ground


Students who participated in the interfaith dinner found common ground at the Detroit Mercy event Feb. 4.

Clayton Blackwell, a local ministerial candidate in the Southern Michigan Conference of the Free Methodist Church USA, said the dinner was “a great opportunity to discuss common shared interest between all the different faiths and to understand how we all come to the table with different lenses on how to view different issues such as oppression and non-violence.”

Blackwell was one of five student panelists, along with Dalonzo Curges, a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Ana Lopez, a first-generation student who was raised Catholic; Hershel Ungar, an Orthodox Jew and an active member in his synagogue; and Batoul Shinawah, a sophomore on the path of Islam.

The main focus of the dinner was to have panelists discuss the question of what can religions teach about nonviolence and oppression.

Lopez said that more than anything the dinner was about coming together as different faiths and loving each other.

“Oppression and non-violence are intertwined because these generations are being more open-minded,” said Lopez.

Panelists addressed a series of questions from their faith’s point of view and answered questions from the audience had as well.

The event included an introduction by Lopez, a dinner, a basket raffle from different organizations on campus and the panel of speakers.

Anita Klueg, who works with the interfaith student council, said that the council chooses the theme, questions and representatives.

“The student speakers make it real,” she said. “They’re authentic stories.

“We need more opportunities like this,” Klueg added. “We have bias incidents happening on our campus… If we cannot create more awareness, we cannot change those things.”